Graduation can be a time of mixed emotions for students. On one hand, you’ve graduating after years of hard work and the world of work seems like a welcoming prospect after living on a student loan, but on the other hand, graduation signals the end of an era in your life which can bring up some troubling uncertainties.
But it’s important to remember that every graduate’s path is different and that the road to that dream job is never going to be comparable to the paths which other graduates take towards getting their first employed role.
If you’ve just graduated or if you’re currently studying towards graduation, here are some tips to stay focused and motivated towards that dream job goal:
Don’t be afraid of part-time work
Most graduates don’t walk straight into work. It’s a fact of life that you’re going to have to work hard to be employed and this starts the minute you graduate.
But don’t be afraid of a part-time or full-time job to keep you going while you search for a job.
One of the questions that employers now ask graduates at interviews is: “So, what have you been doing since you graduated?”
If you can demonstrate that you’ve stayed pro-active and focused on your goal by keeping a job that allows you to earn money while continuing to job seek, it shows employers that you’re not resting on your laurels and that you’re trying to stay afloat while chasing your dreams.
Flexible part-time work also allows for time spent on gaining experience. This leads into the next point.
Experience is everything
You probably did work experience at university or during breaks in the academic calendar; try to keep an eye out for these opportunities when you graduate.
Work experience is the first thing that recruiters will look for when they check out your CV. If you have a verifiable honour list of places that you’ve worked at, it can place you on top of the pile of candidates when you apply for jobs.
Modern internships and work experience opportunities do have a downfall though, and that downfall is in the way you get paid. The vast majority of work experience places are unpaid, and the opportunities that are paid are few and far between.
Just remember that work experience is the key quality that will separate you from a candidate list where others probably all have the same skills and attributes.
Do as much as you can, with as many different work experience providers. Graduates who come straight from university and apply themselves to work experience usually end up with the best references and skillsets, so be one of the few who stays active when looking for a job. It will pay off.
Think outside of the box
This is probably one of the hardest tasks to accomplish: making yourself unique.
If you have a particular trait or something that you think stands out that would attract employers, do everything you can to make sure it gets recognised.
Writing a blog about your thoughts on the industry (this is really important if you’re looking for a media job), creating products and examples of your work (such as a portfolio, or designing clothes if you’re a fashion or textiles graduate) and creating unique pitches to advertise yourself (Google the name Adam Pacitti), can all give you a fighting edge over your competition.
It’s the worst thing you can do.
If you use the skills that you gained at university and take the right steps toward job seeking (apply for absolutely everything that would suit you, don’t underestimate yourself and apply for the jobs that you think might suit you), you will get a job.
It takes time but stay active in the way you look for jobs and in the way you make yourself an attractive target for employers. It’s only when you give up, or lose confidence in your abilities that your dream job starts to slip away.
Focus, dedication and the ruthless pursuit of that dream job will carry you through. And as the saying goes: “You have to be in it to win it”, so make sure you’re in contention for every job that is applicable (or even related) to your skillset.