Developing your graduate capital doesn’t have to stop when you leave uni

As you begin life after university, it’s important to recognise that your development doesn’t stop when you get your degree.

The concept of graduate capital emphasizes the key resources that empower you to successfully navigate the job market. These capitals go beyond academic development to include human, social, cultural, identity, and psychological aspects.

Graduates who can draw on these capitals feel more confident and can better present their value to employers. This blog post will explain each capital and explore practical ways to develop them as a graduate.

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Human capital is the foundation of your employability. While subject-specific knowledge shows the technical expertise needed for graduate-level work, general skills gained from higher education, such as learning how to learn, critical thinking, information management and problem-solving, are equally vital. This capital equips graduates with the confidence to enter the job market.

A good first step to build this capital is making sure you’re aware of what the essential skills or knowledge you gained from your degree. It’s important to have examples to share of how you developed them as you begin your career. To continually develop your human capital, consider engaging in lifelong learning to showcase your adaptability and willingness to grow.


Building meaningful relationships and networks is key to enhancing your social capital. These networks can considerably influence how much knowledge and awareness you have of the job market, including job openings, demands and who best to approach.

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  • Attend industry events via sites like meetup.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Attend alumni panel discussions.
  • Leverage online platforms like LinkedIn and Bristol Connects to connect with professionals in your field. Look at our top tips for creating your LinkedIn profile.
  • Actively participate in networking activities – these relationships not only provide insights into the job market but also create opportunities for mentorship and collaboration.


Understanding and adapting to workplace cultures is crucial for success. The ability to develop and present the attitudes and cultural knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace will enhance the value that a graduate can bring to any organisation.

Develop your cultural capital by immersing yourself in the industry.

  • Get to grips with industry-specific language by reviewing job adverts or industry-specific publications (abbreviations, acronyms etc).
  • Review how individuals working in target industries present themselves via their LinkedIn public profiles. Consider activities they’ve previously undertaken that may have enhanced their credibility.
  • Seek internships.
  • Attend company events, and observe how professionals interact.
  • Cultivate a diverse skill set and showcase your ability to adapt to different work environments, making you a valuable asset to any organisation.
  • Review alumni panel event write-ups for examples of culturally valued knowledge and activities.


Crafting a strong and authentic professional identity is essential in your career. Reflect on your values, interests, and long-term goals. This not only empowers you to make informed career choices but will also enhance your perceived value in the job market.

  • Actively seek experiences that align with your ‘future self’.
  • Create a personal brand that resonates with employers, showcasing your unique strengths and attributes.
  • Attend a ‘Get clear on your career’ workshop to understand what you are looking for in your career and what might suit you. 
  • Use the Career Ready Course – Explore to reflect on your interests, skills and strengths. 
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When facing career challenges and uncertainty, psychological capital will be your defence. Build resilience and adaptability by embracing a growth mindset. Learn from setbacks, view challenges as opportunities for growth, and maintain a positive outlook.

  • Engage in activities that promote well-being, such as mindfulness and self-reflection, to build the resilience needed to navigate the ever-changing professional landscape.
  • Consider career contingency plans if plan A is not immediately achievable.
  • Review the squiggly career paths of five Bristol alumni and how they learned from challenges along the way. 

Leaving university is not the end of your learning journey;

It’s the beginning of a lifelong process of developing and refining your graduate capital. By continually investing in your human, social, cultural, identity, and psychological capital, you’ll not only enhance your employability but also be able to approach your future with confidence and resilience. As you begin life post-graduation, remember that your growth is ongoing, and each experience is an opportunity to further enrich your graduate capital.

To find out more watch this ‘Overview of the Graduate Capital Model’ video on YouTube.

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