As a graduate, taking the first steps towards a new career is an exciting and rewarding experience, provided you are prepared, focused and flexible in your approach. Here are some practical suggestions to help you make a smooth and successful transition from study to the workforce.
Competition is strong for the best graduate opportunities, with many applicants competing from a relatively level playing field. It is important to keep your options open and consider a variety of roles, with a degree of flexibility in terms of salary expectations. Think about where you want to be in 2-3 years time and make a list of potential of roles that will help you get there.
Start looking early
Start scanning graduate job opportunities as early as you can. Internet job boards, trade publications, newspapers and your network are great sources of potential openings. Not only will you get a good indication of the type of roles available, including the skills required and salaries on offer, but you may also be amongst the first to uncover a great opportunity.
To have an edge in a competitive job market, it is essential to be as well prepared as possible. Identify target companies and research graduate recruitment programs so that you can make contact prior to completing your studies. Make a list of the job types and salary you are looking for and register with recruitment agencies that specialise in your market. You should also start rehearsing common interview questions to polish your technique. Thorough preparation will mean that you can quickly and comfortably seize any opportunities that arise.
Increase your employability
High achievement at university is only one element of what makes a graduate attractive to potential employers. They will also be looking for work experience, leadership in extra-curricular activities and key ‘soft skills’ such as interpersonal and communication skills, critical reasoning and problem-solving plus passion, enthusiasm and industry knowledge. Getting involved in community activities, volunteer work, sporting teams or university committees will demonstrate that you have practical skills beyond your academic results.
Build your network
One of the most effective ways to find a role is through networking. Inform your family, friends, lecturers and peers about your job search so they can stay alert for relevant opportunities. Get involved in professional associations and attend events to begin meeting potential employers. Networking at these events can provide you with job leads and start building your reputation in the industry as an engaged, enthusiastic and well-connected young professional.
Graduate candidates come from a relatively level playing field, competing for the best graduate opportunities. Get ahead while you study by:
- Looking for opportunities and researching companies early in the year
- Balancing your education with extra-curricular activities and work experience
- Effectively increasing your network by attending events and joining professional associations