What should I do after university?
Not knowing what you want to do after university can be daunting and with so many graduates also looking for work, competition for top jobs can be tight!
So we have put together our top five tips to help you boost your graduate employability.
Know your practical & transferable skills
Sometimes it can be hard to identify the practical applications of your degree, especially if you studied a non-vocational subject such as those within the Humanities. Making sure you take the time to really consider what you have learnt at university will allow you to identify both the Practical and Transferable skills you have acquired throughout your period of study.
Practical skills are specific skill sets which are usually acquired through training, or work placements, and are measured in relation to an individual’s ability to ‘put them into practice’. For example, if you studied IT you may have learnt how to code. This would be a practical skill set that you should be able to apply in any given situation in which you are required to code.
Practical skills may often take precedence on your CV. While it is important to highlight these, especially if they are relevant to your chosen career path, they are by no means the most important skills you would have acquired at university.
Time management, communication, team work and problem solving are all examples of transferable skills you can expect to have learnt while studying. Transferable skills, often referred to as employability skills are those which can be applied across a range of different jobs and industries. They are skills which we are constantly developing in our day to day life, and your ability to demonstrate them will often have a huge impact on whether an employer considers your CV to stand out. After all, it is not unlikely that several applicants will have the same degree and qualification.
Don’t forget, always tailor your CV and cover letter to suit the job role for which you are applying. Pick the most relevant of your practical and transferable skills and be ready to provide examples of each, should you be required to.
If you haven’t done so already, make sure you create a LinkedIn profile. This professional platform is not only great for networking with existing contacts, such as classmates, colleagues and tutors but will also allow you to engage with potential employers and companies in your chosen field. It can be a little daunting, but if you are really interested in a topic or industry don’t be afraid to join the online discussion or even publish your own article on LinkedIn.
Networking events such as job fairs are also a great way to meet potential employers, recruiters and fellow job seekers. Make sure you collect as much information (and freebies) as you can from these events – you can always read through brochures and info sheets later on if you don’t get a chance to visit all the exhibitors.
Consider Temporary work
You may feel under a lot of pressure to find that perfect job before you’ve even unpacked, but sometimes taking the time to seek advice and do your research will be of benefit in the long run. Getting temporary work while you explore your options is a great alternative to jumping straight into a graduate job. While gaining valuable work experience, it also allows flexibility to attend interviews or even complete additional educational courses should you require them. Temping may also allow you to gain experience within a variety of organisations, from large corporates to small local businesses, helping you decide what type of business is best fit for you. It’s a great way to ‘get your foot in the door’ when you find a company and working culture you truly connect with.
If you’re considering a gap year, temping is also a great way to earn while you travel.
It can be really tempting to mass apply for roles which simply match your job title criteria, but not taking the time to research the role and company properly can really hinder your job seeking success!
In addition to the time wasted applying for roles which may not be suitable, you also risk an awkward exchange with a potential employer if they were to call to discuss your application. It is not uncommon for employers to carry out a telephone ‘pre-screening’ before inviting candidates to interview, so be prepared for calls in which employers will ask ‘What do you know about our business?” or “Why do you think you are suitable for this role?”. Keeping the research you complete to hand, if possible, is a great idea, although thoroughly researching the roles you are truly interested in should ensure you are prepared enough for such a call.
Finally, stay motivated. We know that job hunting can be hard and if you’re finding yourself binge watching your favourite Netflix show a third time over, it’s probably time for a complete job hunt overhaul. Create a plan, set yourself goals and always keep a record of everything you have applied for.
Routine can be a hard thing to get back into after university, but setting aside time each day to research, apply and relax will ensure consistent progression towards your end goal while preventing a complete job hunt burn out!