Leaving formal education is hard enough under ‘normal’ economic circumstances let alone through a pandemic and without a career coach to guide you. Graduating means leaving so much of what you’ve known for the past few years behind. It means moving away from the bubble you’ve been living in. It means going it alone for the first time in the ‘real world’ where it’s just you making your own path, not someone laying that path in front of you for you to follow. It’s a hard adjustment and a big upheaval, and for me it definitely was! I can only imagine the emotions the Class of 2020 are feeling right now or those who have already graduated and those who will next year – as you ask the question “now what?”
Upon graduating university, college or high school, most of us will ask ourselves or have the thought of “now what?” After all, your life has been dictated and structured by school and education. Up until this moment you’ve always known what the next step will be. At the same time, everyone you know – parents, friends, relatives, and acquaintances – are all asking you: “What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?” It can feel overwhelming especially if you don’t have all the answers to the “now what?” question. Throw in a social pandemic that has not only affected the way we work, employability for the whole economy, but also our lives doesn’t make it easier.
Career Coaches – 6 Ways The Class Of 2020 Can Boost Their Employability
1. Be kind to yourself and have some breathing space.
You’ve just spent years of studying and having a plan, so take some time off before you start the next chapter of your life. Before jumping right into something, sit down and have a think about what you want to do next. Speak to family, friends, students you studied with, or chat with a professional career coach here at Optimum Consulting, via our Career Support Program about what the next step could look like or where to from here.
2. Don’t write this time off.
Don’t assume that the economic situation is so hard that you won’t be able to make any headway on your plans or take steps to improve your employability. Take advantage of this time and the huge amount of learning materials and courses out there online to upskill, or perhaps commit to something more long-term such as a Master’s program or exploring vocational training.
3. Showcase how you’ve used this time and learnt on your curriculum vitae (CV).
A gap on your CV during which you’ve done nothing of real value will do absolutely nothing for your future career credentials. So, don’t forget to add to your CV all the ways in which you’ve been using your time. Whether that be upskilling, volunteering, do-it-yourself (DIY), caring, setting up a remote book clubs or even attending virtual career fairs or events. If you need some help getting started or writing/updating your CV then check out our career support service called Fllair.
4. Be open minded.
Be ready to consider roles you may not have initially planned for or envisaged in your future. Don’t confine yourself to just graduate positions either. Even if at first glance a job isn’t what you had in your mind as your ‘dream job’ or perhaps isn’t at the level you’d been hoping for, appreciate that every opportunity is an opportunity to learn, and learning is what you need to be doing the most of right now at this early stage in your career.
5. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.
We always want to continuously grow and learn, which is a great personality trait, but in a labour market when it’s challenging, once you’ve secured a job it’s more about proving your value and potential. So once you’ve started your role, strive to be the best you can be at it, master every aspect of it. Persevere through the aspects you like less and you’ll soon start to get noticed for other opportunities down the line.
6. Build your network.
It isn’t easy getting your first job and there’s definitely a pressure around the idea as well. You’ll need strong a support network around you, such as friends and family. In addition, get yourself set up with a LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one already. Start building your networks and ask them for their advice and expertise. Research prominent figures you look up to on the platform and review their profiles to get an understanding of the steps they’ve taken to get where they are today.
If you need a further extra boost with your career, read our previous Oblog, “How to apply for a job – the secrets to getting noticed”, to help you stand out in the job market.
Tamarah Nguyen – Consultant
Tamarah joined the Optimum team in July 2019 as a Consultant and has recently completed her studies with a degree in Masters of Human Resources and a Bachelor of Business.