Date: Sep 18th, 2020

So now you’re a graduate, what’s next?

Graduate food jobs

We know how much finding a graduate food industry job means to you so we’re here to help find the one that’s absolutely perfect.

After 3+ years of study you’ll know the stats: the industry employs over 500,000 people and is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK worth over £95 billion.  The industry is constantly innovating to meet the tastes of demanding consumers and as it looks like the need to eat is not going anywhere soon, now is a truly exciting time to be starting your career.

So, once the dust has settled, the exams are finished and you are done with uni, how do you find that elusive first job?

First of all get to know the industry and identify which area interests you the most.  Here at Zest we focus on a few main areas


Supply change




Food science and technology


Identify the area that you’d like to work in then start researching the companies that offer those career paths.  Start looking at the jobs they advertise and of course, check out our website and submit your CV.  We love graduates at Zest and can offer advice as well as jobs.

You need to make yourself stand out and there’s a few ways to do this.  Obviously a good degree helps – a 2.1 is standard for most schemes however for graduate jobs experience in the food industry can be just as attractive to employers.

It’s unlikely that you’ll have had a permanent position in the field you want so explore other options.  An industrial placement is a great way to get experience and get a foot in the door.  If this wasn’t an option for your degree consider arranging a work experience placement.  Again, think about what type of company that you’d like to work for then approach them for a work experience placement.  Most are 1 to 2 weeks and are unpaid, however some companies will offer longer internships or just a couple of days.  All of this looks great on your CV and gives you something to talk about.  It also shows initiative and a real ambition to work in your chosen field.

Another option is to take on summer work, this can be anything from packing boxes to icing cakes.  Working in a relevant area for a known company even though it’s a temporary job again shows determination and helps your application to stand out.

So, the CV.  This can be daunting, you’re told to make it stand out yet at the start of your career there’s not a lot to put on it.  Don’t be put off.  Resist the urge to make it stand out by adding crazy colours or writing diagonally (I have actually seen this abomination) – stick to black and white.  A few obvious pointers:

Make sure your name, email and contact details are on the CV

Make sure your email is sensible may seem great when you’re 14 but stick to your name for professional accounts.

No spelling mistakes!

Don’t embellish – stick to the facts. That 1 year in management that was actually a week on the shop floor will be found out.

Add your summer jobs, employers want to know that you are hardworking and can keep to a schedule.

Don’t list every school achievement – no-one wants to know you got your swimming badge in year 2.

Add interests, especially if they are relevant.

Leave off the professional photo, just stick to the facts.

No social media links unless they are relevant and professional i.e. LinkedIn, leave your twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts private – future employers don’t want to see your mad Saturday nights out.

No spelling mistakes (so important it deserves being mentioned twice).

A good CV is a great thing but it’s not the only key to getting an interview. When you apply for a role or send a speculative CV write a short but concise cover letter.  Introduce yourself, spend a few lines explaining why you want the job and why you’re a good candidate.  You don’t need to write an essay but a bit of background is a good accompaniment to a C.V which is quite a sterile doc.

Failing that try bribery.  Only joking, please don’t do that.

A few good links to help you in the job hunt:

Careers in Food & Drink advice and information

Institute of Brewing & Distilling

Food & Drink Federation Advice and information

Improve food & drink sector skills council online resource for the companies within food manufacturing

Yourfoodjobs  job board aimed at food manufacturing

Foodman Jobs: job board aimed at food manufacturing

And of course, Zest!

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