This is the first in a series of posts, helping recent graduates to turn their degrees into careers. You can sign up for more here
When you leave university, you quickly realise that you need to be good at marketing yourself if you want to secure a career job you really want.
And you also need to have buckets of focus and direction.
At first you might feel lost and lack motivation and purpose. Your parents and friends keep asking you what your career plans are, and you quickly change the subject.
You’ve completed your degree but that doesn’t seem to lead to any obvious career path. You haven’t done an internship and have only worked in a pub.
You’re worried that you don’t have any relevant experience to offer employers.
And there are so many other graduates out there who have done cool placements, have completed relevant projects and are fabulously connected. It all seems overwhelmingly competitive.
You dream of taking the first step in your career, in a job that you love and that will make use of your degree. This job will excite and motivate you and enable you to continue learning in a supportive environment. You’ll earn enough money to move out of your family home and start living the independent life you crave.
But you’re anxious that you might have to compromise on what you really want and take any job that will bring some money in and get your parents off your back.
I’m here to tell you not to give up on your dream job. It can be yours.
But it’s essential to do some career focusing first, before you start sending out applications. Investing time in the research stage will really pay off later on and prevent you taking a job that bores you to tears.
Here are my top 3 tips to help you with your career research.
1. Write a draft CV
Start by getting down absolutely everything you’ve ever done, both in and outside your education, including individual and group projects, modules, essays and practicals, travel etc.
You’ll be amazed at how many skills and great experiences you’ve gained without even realising it. Dig deep into your education, part time jobs, volunteer work, sports, societies and other activities. You’ll have learned how to work in teams, how to organise your time effectively, solve problems, work under pressure and learn from setbacks along the way.
Now go through your draft with a highlighter and red pen. Highlight the things you really enjoyed and strike out things you never ever want to do again. See any patterns or themes?
Next, have a look at a variety of graduate job boards and find some job descriptions that match some of the things you’ve highlighted in your CV. Spend time looking at the person specifications and see how well your skills and strengths link to those required to be successful in the role.
From this you’ll gradually build up a list of ‘interesting’ careers that can be further refined later on.
2. Become LinkedIn savvy
Set yourself up with a short headline (220 characters only), upload a professional looking profile image and select the ‘open to work’ status. At this stage, most of your ‘about’ section can be content from your CV and anything else you feel would add value, for example dissertation or extended project details, extra detail on specific work experience, and interests.
Invite all your friends and family to connect with you and then start liking and commenting on posts you find interesting.
3. Reach out (it's not that scary, honestly!)
Spot individuals on LinkedIn who have jobs that you’ve identified as ‘interesting’ and invite them to connect with you.
People love being asked for their advice so why not ask for 10 minutes of their time to chat about their experience? You’ll gain such a great insight and it you’ll be surprised how helpful it will be in eliminating some of your career options and finding your focus and direction.
To receive more free advice on how to get your career search up and running please sign up here.
How Interview Coaching can help you
If all this seems overwhelming and time consuming, and you'd like some help, please get in touch. I've helped hundreds of people just like you, to find careers they really love through bespoke interview coaching sessions. Email me or call 07971 511731