Graduate Career Advice

As a graduate approaching the end of your time in tertiary education, it’s natural to start focusing on what comes next. A good degree is a pre-requisite in the graduate employment market, but this alone is not enough to secure your first graduate job. With thousands of graduates leaving university every year, what can you do to stand out from the crowd? The skills you develop whilst at school/college and university and the experiences you gain will all help to give you the edge over the next candidate. This means it is essential to be proactive and engage in interests and work experience alongside your degree to help to enrich your life and your CV.

It’s rare to fall straight into a job after you’ve graduated. Job hunting can take several months so it’s important to stay motivated in your job search and make the most of the opportunities and support out there. The following will aim to help you choose your ideal career, search for job vacancies and stay focused on your career goals.


Working out what career path is right for you?

As you start to think about choosing a job, you will not know about all the jobs available in particular industries, but a good starting point is to think about what you enjoy, where your interests lie and what you are good at. The more clearly you know what interests you, what you like doing, what your talents are and which skills and strengths you want to use in your working life, the easier it is to recognize the opportunities that best suit you. Once you have an idea of the type of work you would like to do and the industry you would like to work in, it is important to research the jobs available in that industry. Remember you can never do too much research – visit your university careers centre, search the web, read job adverts, look up relevant journals and Professional Bodies.

Ask yourself what is really important to you and what you are willing to do. Everyone has unique motivations and ambitions and yours may be different from those of people you know. Writing your ideas down or talking them through may bring out more possibilities. Your friends and family may help you identify the key deciding factors for your career planning and may point out strengths that you take for granted.

Your careers services at your university will have a wealth of resources to support career research and planning. As well as talking to a careers adviser, you may gain insights from psychometric tests, which focus on aptitude, ability or personality.


What do different jobs entail?

Learning what people actually do on a day-to-day basis is a crucial step in your job search. Understanding jobs is the best way to ensure you make the right decision for you. It is also essential for writing strong applications to persuade a company or organization that you are a good fit for the job.


Job Hunting

Once you have decided on the job role, sector and type of employer that are most suited to you, make a list of organizations that interest you. If you are flexible on location broaden your search but if you want to remain in a particular location then you need to be very focused and do research on all the various industries/companies located in the region. How do you find these companies?

You need to use your research skills – look up business directories/business parks/ personal contacts – friends, family etc. Many jobs are not advertised so you need to pro-active in your search!


Your Action Plan

Creating an Action plan for your job search keeps you motivated and helps you track your progress

When you create your action plan, remember to think long term and then break the plan down into smaller, manageable short-term goals that are more achievable.

Have you:

  • Developed clear ideas about your strengths, skills, interests and motivations as well as your practical needs?
  • Considered whether completing further study is an option?
  • Gathered enough information to understand different jobs?
  • Systematically weighed up pros and cons?
  • Drawn up a list of contacts and prioritised who to approach?
  • Activated your network?
  • Researched recruitment agencies specific to your sector?
  • Prepared your CV? Click on the link below to download a CV template to help you get started.
  • Investigated support and resources available through your university career services?
  • Explored relevant professional bodies and sector journals or websites?
  • Discussed options with significant people (partners, parents, dependents) and impartial helpers, such as careers advisers?
  • Created target dates to complete your actions?