I don’t often calculate how many years it’s been since I graduated, mainly because it makes me feel a little old but what those years have taught me is a hell of a lot. So with experience on my side, I thought I’d share my advice, my thoughts and just exactly what I’ve learnt since graduating.
Don’t expect it on a plateRemember in the build up to your university application when your tutors sell the idea of years of debt for a bigger financial gain in the long run because you’ll be more ‘employable.’ Yeah that’s partly true but what I would say is don’t expect it on a plate. I once knew someone who was so smug about his degree and saying he’d have X, Y and Z within a year of walking out with that shiny degree and it didn’t happen. Call it karma or call it reality. Yes a degree is great but a lot of other people have it too so you’ll be up against competition.
Take a breakIf you went straight to university following college, you’ve spent most of your life in education. Fantastic, but at this point that’s all you’ve ever known. Whether it’s a few months travelling, an actual gap year pre-first job or simply a week at home to take everything in - do it. You need time to reflect on all of your qualifications and decide your next steps.
Don’t compare yourself to othersJust like most things in life, never compare your life to someone else. Why? Because everyone is on a different chapter, a different walk of life and no two people are the same. Sure you may think your best friend has ‘her whole life figured out’ but that doesn’t mean it’s one, true, or two what you should do.
Experience is everythingWhilst having a degree is amazing, you can’t put a price on experience for many reasons. One, it enriches you as a person and allows you to make more well-rounded and educated decisions, not only in your career path. Two, it will put you above others when it comes to recruiting because if HR have two degree CVs and yours has 6 months experience prior in that industry - which one looks more appealing? And three, maybe you’ll discover that what you thought was what you ‘wanted to do’ actually isn’t anymore. And that’s okay too. There’s no shame in starting over. Don’t waste your life being anything other than happy. You grow and change every single day and sometimes a switch up can be the best thing for you as it gives you a fresh look on life. It’s better to realise this now rather than 20 years down the line and have lived a life of regret.
Do your researchYou may have done a broader degree at university - say for instance - marketing - so do your research into what area of that you want to go into and why. Research what type of job you want to do and remember you spend most of your life at work so don’t research the ones where you know you won’t enjoy it because if you do get the gig, you’ll be miserable. Research the area where you want to work - whether that’s as specific as say Manchester or London or has more of a broad spectrum of anywhere in a 200 mile area if you’re willing to relocate. And finally research companies that you’re interested in working for. Where are they based? What are the hours? Do you want to work in a big or small organisation? Whilst you have the luxury of time to research, do it properly.
Get yourself out thereWe’re such a social media savvy generation that getting yourself out there couldn’t be easier. From sprucing up your LinkedIn to running a site in your spare time - make yourself known. Join in career Twitter chats, sign up to daily job alerts and just make yourself visible.
Apply, apply, applyOnce you’ve done the above, apply, apply, apply. And when I say that, I don’t mean apply for apply’s sake. But don’t put all of your eggs in one basket by only applying for the one job you’ve really got your heart set on. Still apply for that but have back ups because it could be that when you actually get an interview, it’s not what you thought and then you’re back to square one. Don’t rush applying either. Spruce up your CV - ask your old tutor to give it a look over and perfect your covering letters. Ask yourself - would I want to read this letter? If no, re-think it. Although the CV in a bottle tricks may initially look a bit cheesy - they get attention and if you’re up against 100 other candidates, there’s no harm in trying. One guy at my place printed his CV on a t-shirt and sent it in. Did he get the job? Yes he did.
Be patientEasier said than done, I know, but be patient. You can help things along and give the company a call but don’t overdo it. Keep on top of your emails and voicemails and respond to ensure you don’t miss out on an opportunity.
Realise everything happens for a reason
Sometimes you get rejected and yes it sucks but there’s not a lot you can do about it - that’s life. But don’t let it get you down, there’s plenty more fish and jobs in the sea. Learn from it, if you can ask for any feedback so you can put it into place for your next application/job interview. You can’t just walk into things all of the time. A combination of hard work, luck and being in the right place at the right time makes for a winning formula.