It’s graduation week – time to celebrate, let your hair down (after the formal photo) and enjoy your final few days in CV4. If you’ve got a graduate job lined up – congratulations! And if you haven’t….don’t panic. You have a long career journey ahead and it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t hurry into those starting blocks.
Keep some perspective
Some people hit the bulls eye after one application, others take 200. We all compare and compete, but try to focus energy on your own job search – it will prove far more productive. Don’t get caught up in any misconceived notion of fairness: there will always be someone more talented, more experienced or better connected. It’s worth remembering however, that as a graduate from one of the UK’s most prestigious universities, with an excellent track record in graduate employment, you’ve already been dealt a pretty good hand.
Make small changes
We recently held our first ever ‘Finalists – Get Hired!’ event and hosted an employer panel to bust some job market myths. One of the most positive themes to emerge from the day was the impact of small changes in attitude and approach. A small change can make a big difference.
- If you’re keen to move into a particular field, but lack both contacts and experience, start a blog. Find your voice and offer something unique. Blogging can generate a great ‘return’ for a modest investment of time. It’s a good way to build your profile, demonstrate your enthusiasm and start making (potentially) influential contacts.
- Ask someone in your chosen industry – or a careers professional – to give your CV the once-over and tell you where the gaps are. It might take very little to turn your CV from ‘no thanks’ to job ready.
- Don’t dwell on past mistakes and rejections – learn from them. I’m not sure attitude entirely trumps ability, but it goes a long, long way.
Stop saying no; start saying yes
I’m not suggesting you throw caution to the wind and agree to scale Kilimanjaro (unless you really, really want to), but try to approach life with a renewed vigour. You’ve just graduated from Warwick, so ride the wave of positive momentum and say ‘yes’ a bit more.
I’m not one for career theorising, but I am comfortable bedfellows with ‘planned happenstance’ and the role of chance. By saying yes, you may open yourself to new encounters which could have unforeseen and far-reaching effects (to the good!) on your job search.
Don’t be a gloom merchant
When I blogged this time last year, the graduate job market was still a little ropey. If the class off 2013 was feeling circumspect about their prospects, there was some justification. Very few economists were prepared to stake their reputation on an economic recovery, but fast forward a year and it’s a different story. I’ve highlighted just a few of recent good news items on the AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) site:
- Employers expect an 18% increase in graduate hires
- Graduate job vacancies up 10% with 23 000 jobs on offer
- The totaljobs Barometer calculates an 11% year on year increase in graduate and trainee vacancies
Now, I’m the first to urge caution and context when it comes to stats and the AGR represents just a slice – not the totality – of the graduate job market, but it’s still indicative of an upturn in graduate prospects. Add to that the range of opportunities within smaller businesses (SMEs) and there’s every reason to feel optimistic.
Here comes the practical bit
I have been working in this profession long enough to know that quite a few of you (actually, more than a few) like being told what to do and how to do it! So, I’ve decided to oblige with short list of practical, tangible things you can do. Starting now.
- Read the email from Student Careers & Skills informing you how to convert your student account into a graduate one. We know you get frustrated with our
frequent emailsregular communications, but this is one you don’t want to miss. Did I mention there are still hundreds of graduate opportunities on myAdvantage….?
- Use social media as a professional tool, not just a recreational one. Yes, it’s fun to waste time on Twitter, but it’s more than just a lunchtime distraction. There’s a really rich mine of sector and market information out there, and it’s a great way to unearth potential opportunities. I came across a great post, Jobs in the Twittersphere, from Edinburgh student and guest HuffPo blogger, Francesca Mitchell, which I think just about nails it!
- Set yourself some realistic – and manageable – goals. Much will depend on your state of career ‘readiness’; are you looking to enter the job market now, or do you need to get more experience before launching yourself fully into a graduate job search?
- Be proactive. Now is not the time to retreat to your bedroom, post a few CVs to online job boards and hope the offers will come flooding in. Your time is better spent investing in quality relationships and quality applications, both of which are far more likely to bear fruit.
- Plug in to any relevant Warwick networks (see point above about quality relationships) and join professional groups and associations in your chosen sector.
This has been something of hybrid post but I’m hoping it might diffuse that post-graduation anxiety and encourage some positive thinking. Remember, graduation marks the end of one journey and the start of another. Embrace it.