The search for a graduate job, internship or placement is no walk in the park.
If you’re working while you look for an elusive graduate role life can be a tad tedious. The routine of work followed by searching for a job is monotonous, unrewarding and tiring. Meanwhile if you haven’t got a job you probably find yourself with a multitude of free time on your hands and not so much to do. While initially doing nothing sounds fantastic, there are only so many times you can watch Jeremy Kyle and Bargain Hunt before you lose the will to live. At this point it’s almost inevitable you will ask yourself: what am I doing with my life? Having no commitments, goals or challenges will eventually leave you bored, unfulfilled and yearning for something to do.
So, whether you’ve got a lot of spare time, or a little, why not use it your advantage and improve your chances of getting a great graduate job? In this article we’ll have a look at a couple of simple (and free) ways you can use your free time to both impress employers and keep boredom from driving you around the bend.
Cheesy but true…
Without trying to sound like a self-help guru, in order for you to make the most of your free-time, it’s important to have a positive mental attitude! This may sound a little bit High School Musical but, let’s be honest; sitting around feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to do you any good. You need to set yourself some goals and be proactive and positive. Staying busy and keeping your mind active will both improve your mood and make sure your brain doesn’t slowly shut down – so when you do get an opportunity you’ll be ready to show those employers what you’re made of. Go you! (I’ll stop now).
The 4 Points
It’s time for you to get flexible (and we’re not talking about taking up yoga or pilates). Taking this attitude can be a bit of a wrench for those who have an ideal job, location or salary in mind. But while it’s admirable to have these goals, being flexible hugely improves your chances of getting a graduate job. If you are flexible on the kind of job you will consider or the location you will work you’re broadening your range of opportunities immensely.
Don’t discount opportunities just because they aren’t your ‘dream job’. Some people don’t ever have the chance to work in their ideal job, never mind getting it immediately after graduating. This is just the start of your career; you have to work to get where you want to be. This means getting your foot in the door at a business and gaining experience and transferable skills which will help you to develop. You’re a lot closer to getting your dream job whilst working and gaining experience than you are doing sat at home without a job. So don’t get too fixated on one job or location; there are loads of exciting opportunities out there and being flexible and open to change puts you in the position to grab them with both hands.
As the well-worn phrase goes; ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know.’ Whilst this is a rather pessimistic stand point it can at times seem true, so we’re going to counter this saying with another; ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.’ While you may or may not know any high powered CEOs who can get you a job with a click of their fingers, it is worthwhile using the network of people you do know to put yourself out there. Let as many people as possible know that you are looking for a job, ask them to spread the word and before long you’ll have your own bespoke network of recruiters!
This also gives you an excuse to get out and about and have a bit of fun. Go to parties, events, meals, christenings – basically anywhere there are people. Obviously you should go there with the intention of having fun, but a bit of networking never did anyone any harm did it? You may annoy a couple of people with your constant job chatter, but they’ll soon realise the quicker they help you get a job the quicker you’ll be quiet! Don’t be shy, ask everyone; it could be your family, your friends, your friend’s families your family’s friends, you get the idea. You never know; your best friend’s, sister’s boyfriend’s company could have a vacancy; and you might just be there ideal candidate.
If you’ve fallen out of the habit of reading after uni (or never picked it up), it’s time to get down to your local library. Reading is pretty good, if you do your research and cherry pick the right books it’s interesting, informative and if you go to your local library – also free. Read around the subject or industry you want to get into, not only will you learn but you’ll keep your brain ticking over.
If you don’t want to read about your industry then try reading a book that will help you to improve. There are some brilliant advice books out there that won’t bore you to death and could offer you some invaluable advice. Books such as ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ can help you to focus your time and energy on the right things. Have a read of the summary attached above and I guarantee you’ll pick up at least one piece of advice that will help you become more effective.
Employers will be impressed by someone who has taken the time to read around their subject and is clearly willing to learn and try to improve themselves. One piece of knowledge you pick up in a book could be the thing that makes you stand out in a cover letter or interview and help you get a great job. So give it a go, turn off the TV and unleash your inner bookworm.
Learn a new skill
Just because you’ve left uni doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning, in fact as you enter the working world you’ll realise you have more to learn more than ever. There are so many free resources around, particularly on the internet, that it seems silly not to take advantage of them. Top American Universities Harvard and MIT offer loads of courses online entirely free. You should also check out Open Culture for a catalogue of free resources and have a browse of the web to see what you can find. If you do have a bunch of spare time it’s definitely worthwhile using it to learn a new skill. Learning a new language or brushing up on your computer skills will impress employers and boost your job prospects by showing you have initiative, drive and ambition.
Employers are on the lookout for enthusiastic and flexible candidates who show initiative and a willing to learn and improve themselves. These tips may be fairly simple, but if you put them into practice – along with a positive attitude – they can make a real difference to your job prospects.