Graduate tips: How to get on the career ladder after university

Finished uni this month? Time to clue up on our graduate career tips…

Graduating from university can be a bittersweet experience.

Once the photos have been taken and the champagne has been drunk a new chapter begins. For some this is a thrilling sensation. For others it’s terrifying.

For most it’s a mixture of the two – but with a 37% increase in graduate vacancies year on year there’s nothing to fear. Well, not that much anyway.

Follow the tips below and you’ll give yourself the very best chance of landing the job of your dreams.

Ask yourself: What to do you want to be when you grow up?

Get in touch with the careers department at your uni. There have never been so many potential career options and they will know about more than you ever dreamed of so tap into that knowledge.

Don’t focus on a specific role from the word go. Tell them your values and goals – both for the short and long term. They might surprise you and suggest something that hadn’t occurred to you.

What do you want? Variety of work? Opportunities to travel? A high salary? The chance to help others?

The more honest you can be the more they can help so if you are all about the cash just say so.

Failing that, an online resource such as TARGETjobs’ career planner can prove useful.

Take your time – any decisions you make will shape the rest of your life.

What type of organisation could you see yourself working for?

Do you want to work for a big multinational or would a small business with a more personal touch suit you better?

Are you prepared to commute? Would you be looking for flexible hours?

Talk to people. Ask how they got into their professions. Ask newly-employed friends about their first impressions of graduate work.

If any are working in a career you’d be interested in ask if there are any potential openings. It’s a long shot but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

If you aren’t sure what you want to do why not apply for some work experience? At the very least a week working a particular field might allow you to cross it off your list.

Don’t let yourself get abused but if you are prepared to work for free and you can prove yourself an employer might just go out of their way to keep you.

At the very least it should help with your decision-making process.

Even if that’s not the case you should keep in touch with them. Touching base every so often might just keep you in the picture for future vacancies.

Extra career contacts and referees are always useful too so start that charm offensive right now!

uni grad hats

Even if it’s not perfect, a job is better than no job. Probably

Don’t panic if you’re still struggling. But don’t stand still either.

This survey from the Office of National Statistics shows that grads have higher rates of employment and lower rates of inactivity than non-grads.

Pretty much any kind of work will provide you with some transferrable skills and CV-wise it’s better to avoid long gaps in your employment history.

You won’t be the only grad to get on the first rung of the career ladder with a view to making a change further down the line – but if nothing relevant is available a part-time job might free up enough time for you to apply for other stuff.

Nearly half of graduates employed within six months of graduating were working in jobs that did not require a degree and only a fraction find the perfect career at the first time of asking.

In fact, research conducted by the New College of Humanities reveals that 19 out of 20 graduates have changed jobs at least once within three years of leaving uni.

Going through the application process is useful too. Even if you’re uncertain about a role, tinkering with your CV and practising your cover letter style is ever important.

But 9-5 can be a culture shock so if you don’t fancy getting straight into work after university there are other options.

Volunteering, further study or vocational courses can boost your employability while giving you some extra time to ponder your next moves.

Just make sure you are doing something worthwhile and not festering at home in your pants.

Be tenacious – improve your chances of beating the competition

Last summer an estimated 600,000 grads joined the job market. The competition is pretty fierce.

The Office of National Statistics survey showed that a third of unemployed graduates send at least one job application per business day.

So give Jeremy Kyle a wide berth, step away from Homes Under The Hammer and dust down the laptop that served you so well come dissertation deadline day.

The majority of grads are willing to travel up to 35 miles for a job interview – with one in six prepared to travel over 100 miles to secure a job.

Keep your job search as wide-reaching as you feel you can.

Fix up your CV. Check out our graduate CV guide or get in touch with us for a chat.

Get yourself on LinkedIn. Ever growing in importance to recruiters, a LinkedIn account shows you’re career minded and gives you another angle from which to sell yourself.

Be persistent. Chase up applications you don’t hear back from and make sure you get feedback after rejections and interviews.

This shows a desire for self-development that may cause an employer or recruiter to remember you. It’ll also help you assess your strengths and weaknesses.

The world of graduate jobs can be a daunting one. But having read this guide hopefully you might have a few ideas on how to get started on a career path.

Congratulations on your degree – the hard work starts here.

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