Career Start – Meaning Career Drama?
If there ever was anything that slapped any student in the face upon graduation, it was a career entry. And it’s no wonder, given the precarity of the job market, the ever-growing demands laid on newly graduated students, and the whole dramatic shift from university into work life. If you’ve already had part-time jobs, you’ll be familiar with some of the tenets of professional employment, but working full-time will still be a bit of a shock to the system.
Your career entry venture doesn’t start the moment you’ve obtained your degree – ideally, it should have started long ago with career planning. If you haven’t considered planning what you’re going to do, you should first take stock of your interests and ambitions – and no, getting rich quickly doesn’t work as a great motivator 😉. Once you have a clear(ish) idea of what gets you up in the morning, you can search for an appropriate job. Internships and volunteering during your studies will also help cement your ideal job idea.
Career Start – Program Your Success with These 10 Easy Tips
No lies here; getting a job in any industry (well, lucky you if you’ve studied software engineering!) might be a bit of a sobering experience for new graduates. There will be rejections and disappointments, but what must never be there is apathy. No matter how difficult and disheartening it may seem at first, you should keep your head up and brave through the teething issues.
Follow these tips for a successful career start:
- Polish up your résumé. Update it with all your experiences and activities, make sure there are no spelling mistakes or formatting discrepancies, and provide relevant information about your previous employers (or organizations you volunteered for). You’ve probably heard that you have to tailor your résumé to different offers, but at the beginning of your career, there won’t be too much to modify.
- Look for jobs that speak to you. I firmly believe it’s never a good time to suffer from working at a job you don’t like. Naturally, reality is sometimes cruel, and you must endure a bad job before getting a good one, but you should always be in touch with your personal needs.
- Don’t take it too seriously. Chances are, your first job may not be your ideal one, so don’t sweat it. Take it as a temporary set of circumstances and roll with that. Your job is not your one-way ticket into a tomb, and you can change it whenever a good opportunity strikes.
- Learn what you can. Just because a job is temporary doesn’t mean you can’t learn while at it. Each job comes with transferable skills like time management, organization, and a host of soft skills you’ll use wherever you work. Along with those, you’ll also pick up tons of job-specific details and faculties that may come in handy in the future.
- Make yourself look good. By looking good, I mean performing well – be at work on time, complete your tasks as efficiently as possible, and maintain a good rapport with your colleagues. After all, someone’s got to write you a good reference letter.
- Build your network. I personally cringe at the word networking because I’m an incorrigible hermit. However, you don’t need to become a party animal to build a decent work network – all it takes is some politeness and asking a few questions. You never know how each person you meet may lead you to a new opportunity.
- Develop your skills. You should never stop learning – see whether your company offers traineeships or learning opportunities. Check out Coursera or similar online learning platforms where you can obtain various specialization certificates. Life gets boring when you stop learning, so it’s better to keep your brain engaged.
- Check in with your supervisor. Try to get some feedback from your supervisor by arranging meetings or check-in sessions. These don’t have to happen too often, but keep an eye out for expectations and preferences. Ask what is expected of you and whether there is anything you can do to improve your performance.
- Ask for help. When you find yourself stuck, it’s better to ask for help straight away than to bumble about without achieving anything or making matters worse. In fact, you could even ask for a job mentor or buddy to use as a contact point while you’re learning the ropes of your new job.
- Take part in team-building events and office activities. If your colleagues are going out for dinner and a board-game session, join them occasionally. Don’t skip big events and meetings, make your presence known, and show interest in people around you. (If you’re working remotely, this may be more difficult, but then try to be responsive on social media channels.)
It’s only that simple (note the sarcasm). Jokes aside, you may need some time to pick up all these habits, but they’re certain to help you advance your career beyond the first job you land.
Tackling the Job Search for Recent Graduates
In the big universe of entry jobs, finding the right fit may become more of a hassle than a productive effort. Especially when those “entry” jobs turn out to demand years of experience. Some companies just set themselves up for failure in that respect, but one thing I’ve learned is that job requirements act as guidelines. Not every single one needs to be fulfilled (as reported by a friend of mine who is recently happily employed after switching careers).
Still, how do you even go about this massive job search? Let’s start with the basics:
- Write down a list of possible jobs you’d want to do. These should be based on your qualifications, interests, and ambitions (or any combination thereof).
- Google keywords. Play around with your search engine and see what formulations or permutations come up. These will help you with your online searches.
- Identify networking points. A lot of job-hunting happens offline by word of mouth or recommendation. Instead of sending tons of applications and being sabotaged by an automatic screener, you can find people already working in the industry you’re interested in. Get in touch with them and see if they’re willing to share information about their experiences in the field, skills necessary to succeed, or entry points into the company. This is not a job interview or an attempt to slither into the company, but if you make a decent impression, this person may help you.
- Be flexible. Make yourself available for interviews and test sessions.
- Keep your expectations in check. If the dream job doesn’t arrive straight away, consider moving laterally.
Now, off to the job search.
Career Start – LinkedIn Tips
LinkedIn is probably the best-known website for job hunting. The only problem? Probably a billion other people have the same idea. Still, if you’re using LinkedIn to get hired for your first job, here are some tips:
- Get acquainted with basic SEO. Make yourself visible by adding keywords that match your dream profession to your profile (the ones that popped up on Google).
- Save your searches. As you’re playing around with basic formulations of the job you’re applying for, you can save relevant searches so that you get notifications and tip-offs when something new pops up.
- Look professional in your photo. Take it as a résumé photo – a headshot with proper lighting, a hint of a smile, and professional clothes come across far better than some random selfie.
- Set up proper search parameters. Thankfully, LinkedIn allows you to pick entry-level jobs as a search filter, which will save you the displeasure of reading through tons of descriptions only to find out they don’t fit.
- Alter your résumé accordingly. Here’s a pro tip. When you apply for a particular position, use the vocabulary from the job ad in your résumé. For example, if they’re mentioning B2B in their job posting, make sure you have it in your résumé – that way, you have a much better chance of surviving the automatic screening process.
- Build a personal brand. Highlight what you do best and how you do it. List your specializations and how they tie to your career plans.
- Be patient! Looking for a new job always takes time. It can be dehumanizing to be dismissed, and it is undoubtedly a drag to tailor your résumé to every application, but in the end, it pays off. And it probably pays well, too 😉!
Graduate Trainee Jobs
It matters not if you haven’t amassed that much experience during your studies! You can apply as a trainee in several companies where you will learn the necessary skills to work in that field and, who knows, maybe get a full-time position. To get hired as a trainee, you should first locate companies you would like to work for.
Considering that you’ve graduated from university, you will probably know what’s available to you within your field. Do some snooping around to see what companies are lurking in plain sight and check whether they have any entry positions or traineeship options. Don’t be surprised to find a series of startups out there. In fact, don’t shy away from them – get in touch. Send your polished and tailored résumé and cover letters and emphasize you’re available for an interview.
Prepare for your interview by going over typical questions about your educational background, skills that’ll help you complete your traineeship, and how you intend to contribute to the company you’re applying to. Most importantly, ensure you have a convincing answer to the question on what you will gain from doing the traineeship at the selected company. And don’t forget to emphasize your interpersonal and organizational skills and long-term ambitions.
Career Start with No Experience – End of the World?
While you’re deep into online search engines and counting your old internships and volunteering you’ve done, I have some good news. The fact that you don’t have experience in a particular field is not the end of the world. What matters is your willingness to learn.
The one important thing is not to pretend you have experience but to put a strong emphasis on related practical work you’ve done. For example, projects you’ve completed in the past, be they part of a university course or some community work you’ve done or even help you provided to your cousins once. Demonstrate what you’ve learned from these excursions into practical work, how they’ve led you to the current company, and your desire to work in a particular field. Always highlight your passion for the said job!
Not having experience does not deter you from starting your career, so ignore the bads and focus on the goods.
Career Entry – Things to Remember
Starting a new job after graduation is never an easy task. Unless you’re extremely lucky. But if you are among those who didn’t wake up one day to find that a new job has landed in their laps via some mysterious influence of a tooth fairy or some such entity, you should remember these tips:
- Check your expectations. An ideal job doesn’t just spring into existence because you’ve graduated recently. Be flexible with your choices and make the most out of your entry position.
- Take it easy. Don’t kill yourself over a less-than-ideal job – after all, jobs can change, but lost nerves cannot.
- Tailor your résumé. If you’re applying over online platforms, make sure to tailor your résumé in accordance with the job requirements.
- Don’t be afraid to apply even if you don’t match the requirements 100%.
- Go for traineeships to gain more practical experience.
Keep your head up no matter how taxing the whole process is; getting that perfect job may take some time, but it doesn’t mean you cannot learn from your not-yet-perfect positions. Always do your job conscientiously, and don’t forget to network – it really helps!