A graduate is defined by the Oxford dictionary as "A person who has successfully completed a course of study or training, especially a person who has been awarded an undergraduate or first academic degree". Starting your career as a graduate is a new beginning that many students look forward to. It is an exciting time as you leave the student life behind once and for all and take a step on to the career ladder. No more all-nighters to finish assignments, no more cramming months of study into weeks or even days and no more plain pasta and baked beans, well! Going from a graduate to the professional world can be a challenging time as routine and responsibilities kick in. It can be stressful as other graduates are looking for employment, increasing the competition and leaving companies choosing the best. Practice patience and don’t let knock-backs get you down. Aim high and read these tips for kick-starting your graduate career.
Find Your Niche
First, figure out what it is that you want to do. Make a list of things you want to change in the world, your skills, passions, motivations and goals. This will help you learn what kind of person you are and what you want to become. It will aid you in choosing a career that suits you. Ask friends and family for support and advice. Speak to people already working in the area you would like to try out and get advice from them, if you’re lucky you might even get some work experience.
Networking is extremely important and useful for graduates and future graduates. There are so many people in your network that can help you when it comes to your career – lecturers, classmates, peers, other students, friends and family. Talk to as many people as you can about your aspirations, you never know what advice or help you may receive. It can also be a good way to listen out for employment as most vacancies are filled by word of mouth and as the saying goes it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know. The more people you talk to, the more likely you are to pick up tips, learn and find opportunities.
Update Social Profiles
Ensure that your online presence is presentable. This is a must! Most employers will search for potential employees and it is important that you don’t make a bad impression. Keep yourself respectable on all social platforms and make sure you are using LinkedIn to its full potential. Network and search for companies and employers of interest etc. Include contact information such as phone numbers, e-mail address, all social media profile URL’s, company websites, blog web address etc. This will make it easy for an employer to research and contact you. And think before you post!
Recruiters search for CVs on job websites when looking to fill vacancies and hire employees. Create a profile on job websites and upload a copy of your CV, it doesn’t take long to do and it means potential employers looking for the type of skills or qualifications you have can find you. Upload your CV to your LinkedIn profile as employers can use this to search for employees. Tailor your CV to individual jobs. When applying for a specific job role, you are essentially telling the employer why you are perfect for the position. It might be more time-consuming but changing your Cover Letter and CV for jobs will make you stand out more.
Volunteer for charitable organisations that you have an interest in. Get involved in new projects or new tasks whether it is in college, work or socially. The more experience you have and things you have done the more interesting you seem, the more you people you meet the more learn.
Skills & Experience
Most people will have work experience whether it is related to your graduate job/degree or not. Use your experience from previous jobs or the skills you have obtained through work life such as efficiency, working in a fast-paced environment, organisation and leadership etc. Don’t forget about college or voluntary experience. If you were involved in college projects or activities such as college radio or magazine make sure to include this and list the skills that you have gained from them.
Research the Company
Make sure you do your research and know the company history and core values before going for an interview. It is important to know about the company because if you are questioned on it and you don’t know anything about it you can give off a bad impression and it show disinterest. It is also helpful when it comes to writing your cover letter and knowing which skills to enhance during the interview process.
If there is a brand or company that you would love to work for then don’t be afraid to approach them. Do your history, research them and find out as much as you can. See if they have any vacancies. Find out who works for them and network with these people. Send them your CV or approach them directly. If you would like to work here then you more than likely have the skills and personality fitted to the company. It’s worth a shot.
Start a Blog
Sell yourself as well as your degree. A lot of the time, employers are looking for skills and personality. Use your strengths and make yourself stand out. Blog about things you know and are interested in or passionate about. You can share these on your LinkedIn profile.
No longer a Graduate - When you Get the Job
Your employer can’t read your mind. They don’t expect you to know everything. If there are certain elements of the company or workload which you don’t understand, ask for clarification.
Throw yourself into the work assigned and show your enthusiasm. Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen. Get involved in important events and projects. Use your initiative to think and act independently. Speak up and voice your opinions and ideas.
Assess yourself regularly, set yourself some long-term career goals. Know your personality, your skills, your weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and improve on where you think you should. With appealing jobs being limited and those that are advertised getting snapped up quickly it can be tempting to apply for all sorts of jobs which might not appeal to you, just for the sake of finding a job. Think about what it is exactly that you are applying for. Do not apply for something which you have absolutely no interest in. You spend most of your time at work so choose something which you will enjoy, learn from and can grow in.
Even if you don’t love your job, do it well anyway. Every job is an opportunity and you must start somewhere. It’s OK if you feel that this is not the right job for you. It will give you a greater understanding of what you don’t want to do and what want from your career.
Making mistakes in your career is a lot different to making mistakes in college. When you make mistakes in college you might fail an assignment or subject. When you make mistakes in your job you learn lessons that you can grow from and take with you throughout your career.
Most great people did not get to where they are today on their own. They had a strong support system to help them on their way. Learn from your colleagues and if they give you advice, listen to them and take it on board. Chances are, they have a lot more experience than you, accept their help.
You never stop learning. Read books that are related to your job role, sign up for events or courses to update your skills. If you are passionate about it, this won’t even be work and you will enjoy it.
Now go and prosper! 😊