Looking for a graduate job? 10 tips for navigating the jobs market right now
By Vicky Shaw
With recent falls in employment rates, and many people having been furloughed or even facing redundancy due to the pandemic, 2020 is a very tough year for the jobs market.
And for recent graduates with little previous experience in the world of work, getting a foothold on the career ladder may seem like an impossible task right now.
The new reality of the jobs market may look nothing like what you had hoped for. But if you can avoid focusing on a narrow career path, the situation may appear less bleak, and some opportunities you may not previously have considered may turn out to surprise you.
So how can you approach the jobs market more successfully? Here, Georgina Brazier, a graduate jobs expert at Milkround.com, which connects graduates with companies, shares some top tips…
1. Take time to reflect
If you are only just starting out in the world of work, take the time to reflect on your university experience, understand what you have learnt, what you want to learn, and what your next steps are.
2. Accept that your timeline towards your career goals will be different to your peers’
It is really common to start feeling down or stressed as more of your peers start to secure graduate jobs. Remember that everyone’s timeline is not the same. This the case for industries too, with many industries recruiting at different times.
3. Break the ‘grad job’ stereotype
While there’s a tendency for people to see ‘grad jobs’ as those which are in consultancies, finance, marketing, for example, don’t just think about treading the same old path.
There are new and exciting graduate opportunities available in less traditional graduate sectors, such as retail, which will let you put the skills you learned at university into practice.
4. Research, research, research
Use this time to really get to grips with how your dream industry works, what they are looking for in an employee, and how you can best market yourself for it.
Job titles often vary between companies, so make sure to do as much research as possible, or use a specific graduate jobs website to make sure you’re putting your time into applications aimed at recent grads.
5. Build your network
Reach out to relevant professional contacts, whether that’s through friends and family or over LinkedIn and email. Check in, seek advice and build your network – whether that’s virtually or socially distanced.
6. Refresh your CV
If you’ve got time on your hands at the moment, use it to rework your CV. This could mean adding new and relevant work experience, ensuring you’ve included all of the ‘soft skills’ you learned at university, switching up the layout, or even looking to develop a few versions, tailored for different positions or industries.
Take as much time as you can when putting together an application to make sure you focus on matching your skills to the job description, and relaying this in both your CV and cover letter.
7. Prepare for a new type of interview
Traditional face-to-face interviews are hard, but socially distanced video interviews pose new challenges.
It’s key that recent graduates practice presenting to a camera, and are able to sell themselves virtually, as much as they would in-person.
8. Don’t stop learning
Why not join a skill-based training session, take up an online course, or work to overcome your public speaking nerves?
If you’re applying for jobs in different industries, focus on your transferable skills. Work to bolster and develop existing and new skills, making you as employable as possible.
9. Remember ‘stop-gap’ jobs are fine – and they can lead to opportunities you’d never have expected
If you’re on the hunt for a graduate role, you may need to apply for a stop-gap job to keep busy and pay the bills. Be reassured that this is common – and it will also help you to enhance your skill set.
If it isn’t the job you’d always intended to do, it’s still an opportunity to try something new or different. And you never know – your ‘dream job’ could be something you might not have considered previously.
10. Finally, remember the current situation won’t last forever
Businesses across several sectors are still recruiting recent graduates, looking for those who can help them hit the ground running. Remember that by staying open-minded and applying for a range of positions, you will be giving yourself the best chance of success.