You’re standing in your graduation gown, clutching your degree in hand and no longer classified as a ‘student’. It’s time to leave the world of toga parties and two-minute noodles behind and put your degree to use in the big, wide world!
The future is unpredictable and most of the time we have no idea what we are doing. Making things up and learning as we go is how we all function in the so-called “real world”. This realisation can hit uni grads hard as they find themselves floating outside of their uni bubbles for the first time in years. While the first year out of uni can be one of the most exciting times of your life, it can also come with anxiety and uncertainty.
Across the country many young, hopefuls just like yourself are graduating at the same time, with a similar level of education and experience, all applying for the same jobs. When you’re fresh out of uni, this can make it a little difficult securing a job in your chosen career field. All it takes though is resilience, an open outlook and a clear understanding of what you want.
So, what do you want?
Firstly, you need to work out what fields and careers you have a genuine passion and interest in. Just because you did a law degree does not necessarily mean you need to become a lawyer – you could be interested in politics or finance. If you have an arts degree that could lead you into a career in journalism or community services. For instance, I did a degree in criminology and ended up in recruitment!
There are so many options out there that it can get a little over-whelming. So, how do we narrow it down? Have a think of any work experience you might have had and what aspects you enjoyed. Perhaps you enjoyed writing articles, or you liked working in small teams. Think of subjects or assignments in your degree that you liked and excelled in. Whatever your strengths, apply for jobs with these in mind. And remember – you spend the majority of your time at work, so choose something that you are actually interested in.
Time to update the resume
Once you have decided what jobs to apply for it is vital that your resume is up-to-date and makes you stand out from the masses of applicants. Your degree is your main asset at this point, but any additional experience you have is a bonus. If you haven’t been able to gain any experience in the field, never fear! Any work experience, volunteering, achievements and extra-curricular activities will help to demonstrate your initiative, work ethic and versatility.
Your resume also allows you the opportunity to sell yourself to your potential employer. Be specific; don’t expect to get the job with a generic resume. Make sure you individually address each of the criteria listed in the job ad, relating each one back to previous experience you have had. This is the time for you to demonstrate how your stint as a checkout chick at Coles has made you a team player and therefore suitable for the role advertised!
Make a good first impression
So you landed yourself a job interview! Even though you have probably spent the last four to five years wearing track pants to lectures, in the land of job interviews shoes are not an option but a necessity. I cannot emphasise enough how important first impressions are. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new outfit, however, it does mean you need to dress appropriately for the role.
Equipped with your university degree, most employers will have the expectation that you have a clear understanding of the industry and relevant current trends, as well as the basic skills required for the job. Research the company and know the position you are applying for inside and out.
Make sure you are optimistic but also realistic when conveying your abilities to a prospective employer. If you haven’t had much experience in the field, describe how other work experience or previous jobs have provided you with transferable skills, which will allow you to excel in the job. Don’t forget to be positive and enthusiastic – it goes a long way. When hiring a graduate, employers largely look for the right attitude.
Starting at the bottom
If you’ve only just finished uni, you’re not going to get to the ‘top’ straight away. This may sound obvious but the number of graduates I’ve come across who have this mindset is surprising! Starting at the bottom of the food chain is a good way for you to get your foot in the door. If the only position available at your dream company is for a receptionist or admin officer then don’t despair. Australian Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements was a receptionist before working her way to her current position.
So starting at the bottom may one day land you that perfect job. Work hard and get to know the key players in the company – this is also a great way for you to build up your contacts and network. You also have a better chance of hearing about job vacancies from within the company.
Hang in there!
Throughout your job searching, remain resilient. Don’t let the rejection letters dishearten you or deflate your confidence. Be proactive, positive and enthusiastic. Look through, job search sites, LinkedIn and social media sites. Ask your friends and family to ask their friends.
Be open minded about jobs that you would accept – you are not going to get your dream job straight out of uni. You may have to settle for something unexpected, but remain positive and don’t give up. You never know what’s around the corner!
Georgia Narayan – Consultant