Moving on once your studies come to an end may even be more challenging than the studies themselves, especially in an economic downturn. Some undergraduate students will move onto postgraduate courses. For most it will mean that they will start looking for employment. Hopefully you will have started thinking about, and planning your next step well before your final days at university. There is a lot you can do to increase your chances of finding a good first (or not so first…) job. Below is a simplified grid of how your planning could work. We'll look at this in more detail on the next pages on this website.
… remember: don't give up and don't take things personally, ever… Be your own business; your business goal is getting a job, what you sell is your skills, experience, personality etc… You need to think of your assets as well as your weaknesses and build a strong sales/marketing strategy… I mean this in a very literal sense. Most importantly: market yourself efficiently at every opportunity, building more skills and insights in the meantime!
Competition for positions may be fierce, or should I say, will be fierce. Increasingly, it is very important not to rely on your degree alone, or your work experience, but to market yourself appropriately. Also increasingly, the above applies to jobs at all levels for different reasons. I often see people trying to find a basic job really struggling to get anywhere. Why am I telling you this? A lot of graduates will need to start out with 'a basic job' until, often after hard work, they get 'a break' in their chosen field.
Difficulties occur for different reasons. For academic jobs there seems to be an increasing trend to 'gain experience' before acquiring that all important first job. This may be by doing internships, (un)paid work experience etc… For the more basic jobs you will be in competition with lots and lots of people without qualifications and those 'just looking for any job'. No need to say, times are hard for many sectors right now and you will need strong entrepreneurial skills and will power to get to where you want to be. Below is a simplified grid of how your planning could work. We'll look at this in more detail on the next pages on this website.
I would advise that you become a member of a professional organisation as soon as possible after starting your course to build up a good overview of the sector you are about to enter. I would also start gathering information for your CV as soon as possible and build this up all the way through your studies. You can use this information not only for your CV but also for your LinkedIn profile, for online applications, for looking for and applying for voluntary work etc…
It would be most useful to explore and build on all three of the main routes at the same time to ensure success within reasonable time. I can't stress enough that you ideally need to start well before you graduate!
Obviously the grid above is only a simplified representation, as mentioned before, and it's important to use your creativity, motivation and interest in your subject and linked career to proactively pursue possibilities.
On the next couple of pages we will look at:
- CV writing
- Preparing for interviews
- Filling in application forms
- Using LinkedIn and networking
- Applying through the hidden job market
- How you can engage friends and family
I hope you will find some of it useful for your own situation and that it will help you motivate yourself to find your dream opportunity.