First of all, if you are a recent Graduate and you are reading this post, may I start by congratulating you on your degree level qualification…However, I must be honest in that the advice I will give you, will be frank, may be hard to hear, & some of you will feel frustrated. But if you take my advice on board, you will stand a better chance of succeeding and being as employable as possible!
Times are tough. Graduating is the easy bit.
If you are keen to transfer your university studies into your first post Graduation job, a strong element of tenacity, patience and hard work is required. With extensive experience in high-street recruitment, it has become more and more apparent to me, that graduates are less and less aware of the reality of their local jobs market. Graduates have less knowledge on what a degree actually qualifies them to do, in terms of the level of role they will find after University. If you have applied for a Sales Manager role, because you have a Business Degree, don’t be surprised that you are not shortlisted for the role, unless you have sales experience and unless you have management experience. This might seem obvious, but the amount of times I have heard “but I could do that” from graduates who have applied for roles, is crazy. The old adage, start at the bottom and work your way up, still applies to graduates, as much as anyone else. The World does not owe you a career. You have to earn it.
Seek out those who have strong backgrounds in the industries and professions you want to enter. If you are speaking to a CEO from a local business, find out how he or she rose to the top. Again, often, graduates often do not want to do data-entry or call centre work at the lowest level, as if this now below their expectations. However, ask that CEO where they started in their career (graduate background or not) and a good number of them would have started at the bottom. Get the experience, be dedicated to your job and its’ responsibilities, bide your time, and, if you are half as good as you think you are, you will rise through the ranks. This again leads onto;
First of all do what you need to do and then you can do what you want.
When I left University, with a degree in Drama and Media, I wanted to write films (I still do). There is nothing wrong with having this as your career target, but appreciate that you might have to sidetrack somewhat within your career to get where you eventually want to go. I ended up in recruitment, as I wanted to earn money, and the film and TV industry pays little or nothing at the bottom. So in effect, I gave up and gave up truly before I had begun. Apologies for the analogy, but you need to learn your trade, before you can master it. If this means working for free to gain experience, taking an internship, working on minimum wages, or begging for your 1st opportunity, do it, because as much as your degree is an asset, your work experience will become the key.
Remember that you have demonstrated commitment by gaining your degree. Remember also that the degree you gain, might not be within the subject area you end up working in. Unless the degree that you undertake is vocational, like Teaching or Nursing etc, the degree is more a testament to your personal endeavours than your overall knowledge on the subject you studied. For example, you are not an expert in working in Finance, just because you studied Accountancy. However translating that onto your CV is hard going. CVs are read by employers and agencies, within 5-10 seconds. Key words and skills are picked out (or not) and you are put to the side or on top of the pile within a minute.
Remember your degree and the quality of writing you produced, and the dissertation you spent night after night producing. Your CV is just as important as that. People say, “get me in front of that business for an interview and I will get that job!”, well I say, make your CV the best you can possibly can , and at least you will have a chance. This is where the internship that you gained, the work experience that you begged for, the uncle that you asked to help out in the office, the call centre job that you took, the data-entry office role that you did in the Summer, the advice you gained from the CEO and the time you then took on your CV will come into its’ own. By demonstrating commitment in gaining the key work skills and experience that you need, you are half way there…now for the interview!