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Understanding types of employers and sectors

If you’re looking for work you may want to consider what type of employment sector you want to work in.

Sectors include:

  • The public sector includes all state-funded services and some of the biggest employers in the UK. You could work for the NHS, the Civil Service or an emergency service like the Police.
  • The private sector covers a variety of organisations from big multinational banks like Barclays or NatWest to small local shops.
  • Third sector organisations like charities offer a variety of paid positions. There are over 160,000 registered charities in the UK.
  • You may prefer the idea of being your own boss and becoming self-employed.

Working in different sectors

It's worth considering the opportunities and challenges of working for different types of employer.

Large organisations – over 250 employees

  • Includes national organisations like Network Rail, PwC and the Civil Service.
  • You’ll usually go through a structured training and induction programme and you may receive perks like a company car and a higher starting salary.
  • There may be a formal company structure so you can see what direction your career could go in.

Graduate vacancies for large companies are often offered through competitive graduate training schemes.

Small and medium enterprises (SME) – less than 250 employees

  • You could have responsibility early on in your career.
  • There may not be a formal induction or training programme.
  • Your starting salary could be lower.

SMEs don’t usually have graduate training schemes and it’s more likely that they’ll have ongoing recruitment.

Third sector – charitable or not-for-profit

  • You’ll focus on ethical work and could have variety.
  • You could work for a very small organisation and therefore your starting salary could be lower.
  • You may encounter less bureaucracy than larger companies.

Working in the Third sector could offer you the opportunity to work for an organisation or cause that you feel passionate about and matches your career values.

Find out about the different types of jobs roles on offer

As well the type of employer you want to work for it’s also worth considering what type of sector you want to work in and the jobs on offer. You could explore the employment trends within a sector and find out which roles are in demand.

Graduate schemes and other job opportunities

Graduate training schemes are usually offered by larger employers. They’re often open for application at certain times of the year although some employers recruit on an ongoing basis depending on need. A growing number of graduates are now finding jobs through SMEs. Visit our information on job seeking strategies to find out more about graduate schemes and the different ways to look for work.

Where other OU graduates work

Get some inspiration from other OU graduates by checking out our what OU students do case studies. You can even connect with OU graduates on social media like LinkedIn or Facebook. Take a look at our advice on using social media in your job search.

Not sure what job you want to do

It’s OK to be unsure about what job you want to go for. We can help with planning your career and support you while you start thinking about what types of employer or job sector might suit you. You can explore your skills and qualities and reflect on your interests, values, responsibilities and life as a whole in our plan your career section.

You can use tools to generate new career ideas based on your interests and skills using a choice of tools.

Related links

Last updated 2 months ago