This blog relays some practical advice for recent graduates and their families on ways to best succeed with the job hunt. These suggestions offer valuable insights to get on the career ladder, and some helpful hints for peace of mind. Let's face it: the more practical pointers we can absorb can only help the hunt. Please share the recommendations mentioned below with recent graduates so we can continue to be supportive and helpful for our younger gen. Let's help our recent grads be as productive and successful as possible.
A little reflection is needed before the practical pointers. I understand this time may be scary for many because this is most probably the first occasion you or your loved one is forging out on their own. Let's remember that for anybody, no matter our age, change brings opportunity… and also worries. What can be even more unsettling is facing the end of a path when the next road isn’t yet clear. For some lucky adventurers, entering unchartered waters is exciting. Congrats if this describes you and I hope you always keep this spirit. For many, however, (including me) uncertainty is worrying at best.
This blog is dedicated to appeasing some worries associated with job hunting by providing helpful suggestions to both the graduate looking for employment and the parent spectating this stressful process. Let's first discuss some general advice to parents and then provide practical suggestions for recent grads looking for jobs.
General advice for parents of recent graduates looking for jobs:
Provide support and encouragement. It’s vital we understand the murky and stressful path our children are traveling. Please read the advice below targeted for your children to further understand this.
Don’t stress: Your child has gotten this far and will find their next path. Our role in this is to provide an environment of support and limited stress. Let’s encourage and not add to their anxiety with probing questions. We are only human so please remember not to be too hard on yourself if we succumb in a moment of overwhelm. We all do. That will also teach the younger gen that we are only human and suffer when they struggle. However, lets strive to be supportive and encouraging.
Keep open communication and dialogue. Let our child know we are there for them. This dialogue will most probably be on their time schedule, but so be it. Let’s continually strive to communicate to understand their plans, their goals and how we can help them through contact introduction, admin or organisational support, or just a parental hug. Let’s think before we nag. Now lets focus on helpful suggestions for our recent grads on how to find a job.
Practical advice for recent graduates:
First off, big congratulations of graduating!! That’s a huge accomplishment and one that perhaps received less fanfare than usual due to the pandemic. Big self-hug required.
Now let’s get to the practical suggestions:
Don’t stress: My first pearl of wisdom is to try not to worry. Seriously. With perseverance and strategy, you will find your next step. If you don’t have a job, know you will, eventually. But this will take focus, perseverance, and resilience. I will provide practical pointers below on how to do this, such as job search planning and interviewing tips.
Don’t allow yourself to succumb to the additional and unnecessary pressure that because the next school term is approaching, your next step must be sorted. It doesn’t need to be. But your plan of action on how you will attack this project does need to be organised. Below you will find practical pointers for action planning.
Be organised: Dedicate the time needed. If you are looking for a job, attack this like a dissertation. Schedule your time and be aware this search will require full time hours. Plan that your “day job” is researching and applying. This can take 4-6 hours a day. It can take months. Plan for that. Then also plan to budget time for pursuing your hobbies, interests, and mental and physical well-being.
You may be competing against your own expectations and an anaemic bank statement. Your personal situation dictates whether a part time job is required whilst you are looking where to join the career ladder. The key to succeed is being organised. Schedule in a mixture of activities you enjoy with the more mundane part of this this excruciating search and any requisite part time jobs. Knowing you have something to look forward to reduces stress levels. Now, let’s get planning.
Pursue Your Interests: Think about what other feats you would like to accomplish over the next week, month, year and plan, plan, plan. Pursue stuff that is interesting to you. Do you want to learn a language? Perfect your golf game? Write a book? Join a band? What are your dreams? Do you want to make some progress in achieving it now?
Identify and pursue your interests and improve on them! But do this around your primary focus on applying for the next step. Exploring more than just an application will make you a more interesting candidate and also will be more fulfilling for you. Be honest with yourself about doing both. Be organised and disciplined. Be the candidate who used their time productively to better themselves and their community whilst they were looking to launch their career. That’s impressive.
Stay on a productive clock: Get up early, shower, dress and plan your day and week. What do you wish to accomplish and by when? Whether it be research for the job hunt or graduate program, schedule it like it’s your full-time job. 9am start. Daylight hours.
Plan your search. Attacking this is like a funnel. First your search needs to be broad and wide. Then it narrows. Here are the specifics:
- Spend time understanding what interest you. What industry, sector, role makes you light up? What are you looking for in a job? Google different companies, such as Top 100 Graduate schemes, or Top 10 jobs for Engineers, Historians, English majors.
- Then let’s narrow the search to companies, associations, organisations that you may wish to target. What values are important to you that are non-negotiable for your first job? Do they align with the ethos of your target companies? Many people don’t think about this, but it is helpful to determine your best fit for the next year or two. Some companies support fitness and provide health memberships, others promote further education, some have days off for long hours, and many don’t give any of this.
- Where do you want to live? Are you mobile? Do you want to move? Try “Top 50 most coveted places to live when you’re 22”.
Talk to people. Contact your uni career centre, alumnae, and friends. Ask them questions to both discuss and better understand the sectors and industries and to hear about opportunities. If there is an information session at your uni or school, get invited and attend. Networking will help. Even your school career centre may have listing of contacts you can approach. This will take time and effort and perhaps be out of character for some of you, but it’s time to schmooze.
Get on lists: Get on mailing lists to get as much info in your inbox as you can to hear about opportunities. If you want to apply to a company or organisation, get on its newsletter distribution lists… and also that of its competitors. Use social media to hear what’s happening and stay current. The more you see and learn about the better. There are also search engines (?) like Target Jobs or Indeed that provide daily listings of job opportunities.
Time for writing, and re-writing. Write your CV and cover letters. Edit and write again. Have someone read them and give you feedback. Get some help and input if needed. Remember to tailor your CV and letter for each application. There are many websites which are fabulous at CV templates. There are companies, such as The Next Half, that have experience in assisting in CV and cover letter writing. Find them. Use them if needed.
Interview and case study prep. Currently each stage in the process of getting an interview is tough. And there are many stages. If you made it to an interview, congrats! That’s great. Pat yourself on the back. Now, prepare….
- Be thick-skinned and resilient. You may need to go through many stages of interviews for each application. My best advice is to be prepared, be thick skinned and if it doesn’t work out, get feedback. Let’s help with this…
- “Win or Learn”. Now is the perfect time to remember that expression. It’s a wasted opportunity if you don’t learn from a failed experience. I know this is hard. Who wants to be told exactly what they did was poor? No one. But if we don’t learn from the mistakes, we will make them again and not improve. Also, remember often the employer may chose not to pursue you NOT because of a fault with your candidacy, but for a reason that has nothing to do with you. They may be looking for a purple alien, and you aren’t that. The boss’s kid may have gotten the job, or an internal candidate. Or maybe the position was pulled. Or maybe you weren’t strong enough. Find out and you will gain something valuable from this, rather than just a waste of time.
- Get feedback: I sometimes hear that company will not openly provide feedback. Keep asking. Politely. It may take several attempts. But what do you have to lose besides some pride? What you may gain is potentially very valuable.
- Interview Prep: Please see my separate blog here which discusses Top Tips to Win at an Interview.
Good luck, Graduates! Remember you will get there! You will find the job and have the successful career you deserve. Soon you will be in the position to hire aspiring candidates. Remember how you felt. Interview accordingly.