5 Pieces Of Advice On Job Hunting After University

7 Sept 2019

Graduation – it’s a time that’s supposed to be happy and a brilliant reflection on the years of education that you’ve had. However, for me, it was a turbulent time of anxiety mixed with an overwhelming fear of the unknown. Life after university isn’t something that is talked about much whilst you’re studying, so many people feel unprepared for ‘the real world’. In fact, Strada-Gallup found in their 2018 survey that only a third of students feel like they are ready for work after graduating, so you’re definitely not alone if you’re a bit nervous about graduating!

What made my graduation anxiety so much worse was that I injured my foot in a ridiculous accident (it involved a free jumping session at a trampoline park… I told you it was ridiculous!), which meant I couldn’t walk or drive for around two months. As you can imagine, this really hindered my job hunting and totally destroyed any ambition that I had. Check out the image below to see my ridiculous boot and heel (and crutch, which was taken off me for photos) combo at graduation - I wasn't gonna sacrifice wearing my pretty shoe!

I’m pleased to say, though, that just under a year from graduating, I’ve been in my first grad job for a little over seven months, so because I’ve experienced this struggle with unemployment after university, I thought I’d share five job hunting tips with you.

Don’t feel as though you have to get a grad job right away

There is an enormous amount of pressure on students to land themselves a grad job as soon as they leave university, which is pretty toxic. There is absolutely no need for you to get a grad job straight away. If you do manage to find one or have one lined up for after you graduate, that’s incredible, but it’s not for everyone. There is no shame at all in working in retail or as waiting staff until something right for you comes along! There shouldn't be the pressure of a time limit put on you, so take things at your pace.

Related: Life After University - Moving Home & Unemployment

Add your transferable skills from university to your CV

It's quite easy to talk about jobs and the skills that you've learned from them on your CV, but definitely don't neglect the transferable skills that you've learned from university! Sure, with my English degree, I can say I've got brilliant written communication skills, but that's kind of obvious. What about:
  • Time management - maybe you've had to juggle several projects at once or you worked a part time job whilst studying
  • Organisation - being organised is a huge deal, so if you had to co-ordinate your time effectively or manage a project, talk about it!
  • Presenting ideas - perhaps you were asked to give a talk in a lecture? Or maybe you had to create a report?
  • Decision-making - this is a huge one. In every assignment you undertake, you'll make a series of teeny decisions, right down to the language you use, the way you present your findings and so much more. Of course, it can also pay to talk about big decisions too!
  • Problem solving - I can guarantee that at least one person reading this has had to resolve some sort of problem in a group assignment setting - we've all been there
Need a few more hints? There's a fab little list on Rate My Placement. Litter them through your CV and be prepared to talk about them in detail during an interview. The best thing about transferable skills is that they can be applied to almost any setting, so they really shine and stand out to employers.

Related: How I Bagged My New Digital Content Job + Advice

Make use of your university's career services

I'm not sure whether this is a thing that is available in all universities (it should be), but at Teesside, we had a killer careers service. I bagged two internships through using them and I know that there are plenty of other things that they offer, like CV workshops, interview tips and more. These were available to us for some months after we graduated, so if that's something that you can make use of, go for it! Sometimes, having a chat with someone in the know is all you need to give you that little confidence boost to go out there and chase what you're looking for.

Cast your net and look for work experience

If you don't feel quite ready to dive straight into full time work, it could be worth sending a few emails and knocking on a few doors to see if you could gain some unpaid work experience for a week or so. This would give you the chance to see what a working environment is like, whilst giving you experience to tuck under your belt. The only issue here is that you would need to have financial support from elsewhere, so it's an option that needs careful consideration.

It also requires a bit of confidence to go in with all guns blazing. All it takes is an initial email or phone call to introduce yourself, what you're looking for and your education background. The worst they can say is 'no, thank you'!

Remember that everyone is in their own lanes

This is 100% easier said than done, but I've been there. When I was suffering with my foot, I used to torture myself by comparing my progress to my university pals. I felt like I was stuck and that I was miles behind, and that no one was going to hire me because I hadn't worked for three months after receiving my results. And that just simply isn't the case.

Everyone is in their own lanes, taking life at their speed. Yes, some people may have landed themselves their dream jobs and are living it up on holiday or getting married, but that doesn't make you any less of a successful person. Life isn't a race. Whatever your destination is, it will come to you and you can take the necessary steps to get there at your speed.

This is a topic that I'm pretty keen on talking about, so I hope that this post has helped someone in some way. I've been in your shoes and I know what it's like to be nervous about graduating, so please use my advice or have a Google to see what other help is available. My Twitter and Insta DMs are always open if you need a chat too, so don't be afraid to message me if you need a friend!

Let me know what you studied or how your graduation experience was.

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