Career advice from our graduates
You have a degree, and padded your CV with extra-curricular activities. The graduate job should follow… right?
Yet, the graduate job market has never been so competitive. The number of degree-holding UK adults has increased from 24% in 2002 to 40% in 2017 (ONS Graduates in the UK Labour Market: 2017) so for most office based jobs, having the qualification is a formality.
Quality graduate roles are also becoming scarcer. Although the Institute of Student Employers expects an 11% rise in graduate vacancies for 2019, last year 49% of recent graduates were found to be working in non-graduate jobs (ONS).
Faced with these realities, it can be hard to know where to start your job search.
Here are some real tips, from our own graduates, on landing on your feet after university.
Experience work, any way you can
It might surprise you to find out that only 39% of university students undertake work experience while at university (Prospects Early Careers Survey, 2018). Yet it remains as important a route into work as ever.
“Getting experience is key to starting your career off in the right path. Don’t be afraid to take a low paid internship if it’s a stepping stone to your dream career.” Chinmay Javeri, Digital Marketing & Social Media Executive
“If you are unsure what path you want to take, say yes to all the experience you can get – you never know who you will meet or what lessons you could learn!” Hayley Morrison, Internal Events and Operations Manager
Work experience opportunities like CEOx1Day – where undergraduates are paired with a top Chief Executive for a unique day-in-the-life experience – are valuable in showing potential employers your business acumen and personality.
Importantly, exposure across a business can help you decide where you don’t want to take your career, as well as revealing the right specialism for you.
The university bubble can sometimes stop you connecting with the types of businesses and organisations which may, one day, employ you.
This can make life difficult when you’re applying for jobs – it’s hard to imagine the day-to-day realities of your potential career. Asking questions, and exploring your options, is key.
“Whether you have known what career path you’re heading to your whole life, or you’re unsure what exactly it is you want to do, being open to advice from people around you, asking questions to someone in the industry or using careers advisors at University is invaluable. Think about who around you might be able to guide you in the right direction to help you get to where you want to be.” Fiona Burns, Business Intelligence Research Analyst
Your universities’ career advice service is a good place to begin exploring different career avenues. There’s also a host of online resources, such as Target Jobs and Prospects, with information on everything from average salaries to in-depth insights into sectors and roles.
Advice and opportunities can appear in unexpected places, so keep your ear to the ground. Doing your research will pay off in the longer term too.
“It may take a little while but then you’ll be left doing something you actually want to do and be much happier for it!” Seanne Kohler, Events & Marketing Administrator
What you think is normal, others see as a skill. You’re part of a digital generation, so you’ve likely got social media or perhaps even design skills. Use these to your advantage.
“Be creative. On average, a recruiter will look at your CV for 3-5 seconds. Create a visual CV that has your key stand-out attributes on the first quarter of the page and delve into more information afterwards. You will need to work out of the box to buy their time. Be smart. Using social media networks such as LinkedIn is an excellent way to find opportunities. Turn on the job indicator in the settings on your profile and recruiters will find you, saving you valuable time and effort. Also, ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch and is completely filled in with information.” Chinmay Javeri, Digital Marketing & Social Media Executive
If you’re a student with the aptitude and drive to impress a leading CEO and improve your career prospects, show us!
Rupert O’Donovan, former CEOx1Day finalist and current researcher in Odgers Berndtson’s CIO Practice, had this to say of his time with CEO of Deloitte David Sproul:
“I cannot highlight the use of this enough to my thought process when considering career steps upon graduation. Spending the day with David, I was able to understand the inner working of Deloitte and the people management skills required at the board level. This process allowed me to gain a brief insight into what is required to run a complex organisation, providing a useful framework to focus upon within my own career.
The selection process within Odgers Berndtson, from the initial application letter to the internal assessment, helped me understand the key skills that employers focus on, something that was invaluable at an early point in my career. Having that exposure to the corporate world as an undergraduate really allows you to align your career aspirations with your studies prior to the stress of university final exams.”