Okay – we’ve all been there. We work (and play) hard for three to four years and then wham – we finish university and graduate – hooray!
Then, unless you have already got a post graduate placement or apprenticeship arranged, the reality of what suddenly becomes ‘unemployment’ strikes! With this in mind, we’ve highlighted 5 key pointers that will help you to manage your mindset and job search when university ends.
First up – the good news
In a UK economy not too long long ago, Graduates had it pretty tough.
In fact back in 2013 TheEmployable reported that around 1,000,000 young people were not employed, in education or training. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and we highlighted that graduate employment was on the rise and was back to 2007 levels. So that’s some good news; you’ve probably got it a lot easier in terms of searching and applying for jobs than your counterparts from a couple of years ago. Keep this in mind then when you get your first knock back – dealing with rejection is unfortunately part and parcel of the job market, but perhaps you won’t have quite as many knock backs as those who graduated just a few years before.
There are two ways to look at this. Firstly set expectations with yourself with regards to how long it might take to find a job / the type of job you might be looking for / the type of commitment you might be looking to offer in regards to the type of job you want / and where perhaps you would be prepared to work and travel for the right job. All of these factors can have impact on both your job search and also your own personal life balance – so it’s best to consider them all in the short term at least.
Also, set these expectations out to other people who matter to you and perhaps most importantly, to your parents or guardians who may have supported your time at University. It may be that others around you have unrealistic expectations of what your post university career should look like. It is therefore best to address this early, as otherwise the pressure you feel will be made worse.
Get the basics right before you start applying
Assuming you’ve got to grips with your own expectations, you still need to get the basics right in terms of preparing to search and apply for jobs before you actually go ahead and take those next steps. Understand what makes a good CV and then prepare one, understand what type of interview questions you might get at a job interview and then practice your potential answers, and consider where and how you might find the type of job or career that you feel you are suitable for. Once you have these areas covered, consider yourself to be ready to start applying for suitable jobs.
Working whilst travelling / Volunteering is most likely a good thing
By this point you’ve probably looked over quite a few jobs and realised that alongside the degree that you now hold, the reality of the jobs market is such that practical work experience and skills are kind of a big deal. Therefore using the time post university to gain practical work experience might be a good idea for your overall employability. This can in turn help when explaining to the family, how a more laid back approach to one’s job search, or working whilst travelling abroad, might actually be more worthwhile than first assumed! Indeed you can often part time or short term work whilst travelling and also it is relatively easy to find out about volunteering opportunities. Whilst volunteering generally does not pay, it will still benefit you considerably in the long run.
Try something different
The point here is that there is not a one shoe fits all approach to either your career or indeed your lifestyle after university. Therefore don’t fret if you decide to take an entirely different career path, end up working for yourself or in the startup sector. More than likely, ten years from now you and your fellow graduates will look back and realise that whilst your degree and time at University was valuable, the life and career you have forged since may be entirely outside the parameters of your degree subject anyhow. Don’t therefore consider trying something different as being futile or pointless. It may well set you on the right career path altogether!