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Graduate Advice: Finished University, what’s next?

You’ve been studying for 3-4 years and in some cases up to 7 years and now the time has come to put all that study to use and find that all important job and start the career plan.

This can be a daunting task but tackle the job hunt as you would with any project, in smaller manageable tasks.

Research your industry

Go online and do some research about your industry. Look at job profiles, who are the companies operating within your chosen industry. What are the sizes of these companies? Who are the major players? Are the companies all large scale, or are there SME’s or even start ups? Make a note of the skills they are requesting (you will need this later on when you start putting together your CV). Can you tick off most of the requirements, are the requirements more than you have? All this information will determine your next step.

What type of work do you want to start with?

So, you’ve done your research and seen the requirements needed for the roles. It is now the time to choose the best way to get there. Remember you may have the education requirements, but you still might need to start at an entry level to build up the experience in that area. What is the best way to build up your experience?

  • Volunteering – Always a good way to get in some experience. It is unpaid but sometimes that shows any recruiter that you are willing to work hard for no money to get the experience required within the industry.
  • Graduate Schemes – Graduate Schemes are a work-based training programme. These schemes enable you to gain hands on training and experience in your chosen field. There are lots of organisations that offer a graduate training scheme. The demand for graduate schemes is extremely high. You normally need to apply at least a year in advance, but some companies do offer this all year round. Therefore, it is always best to check the process with each individual organisation.
  • Internships – An internship is starting off at an entry level gaining hands on training within your chosen field. Internships are normally unpaid and can run for a period of anything from 6-12 weeks where you have the chance to work within the company and gain vital experience as well as allowing you to see if you want to work within that role / industry.
  • Apprenticeships – If you want to get more hands-on practical on the job experience. Normally apprenticeships are focussed on particular industries such as construction, catering and hospitality, agricultural, environmental mechanical engineering, culinary, there is such a wide variety of apprenticeships available so if your chosen career has an apprenticeship option why not look at this avenue.
  • Contracting – looking for short term work can help you get experience in your chosen field as well as offering you a bit of diversity within the industry. All companies work differently, different environments so gaining as much work experience as possible can prove beneficial
  • Permanent – looking for ongoing stable work. Allowing you to get fully involved in the daily working environment

Where do you want to work?

  • Abroad – this could be the ideal time to investigate living and working abroad. There are countries that have a skills shortage so this could be a chance to get into your industry and experience another country.
  • Stay local – look at local businesses that may require your knowledge and skill set. And luckily you have local knowledge and don’t have to incur high travel expenses
  • City options – do you need to be in the heart of the city or travel further afield to be able to do want you want to do? Just bear in mind travel costs, would it be easier to move closer possibly look at alternative accommodation options.

Get your CV in shape

Up to this point, you may only have your personal statement, so it can be difficult to create a page of text just about yourself. Again, if you take it in small chunks you will easily fill up the page, giving a hiring manager reasons why you should be employed.

Begin with your personal details – you do not need to put your entire address, or date of birth. Your CV is the chance to put down all your experience skills and highlight the great enthusiasm and knowledge you have for the industry.

Then follow with a brief personal statement – Remember some of the notes you took earlier about what companies are looking for. Compare your strengths and highlight them with bullet points.

Work Experience

Everything you have done whether it be babysitting your neighbour’s child, having a Saturday job at your local shoe shop. Everything counts. All work will highlight your skills and strengths. All jobs take some form of organising, managing time, communicating with customers. Have a good think about what traits you were exhibiting whilst carry out your experience.
Training courses – Highlight training courses you may have attended, whether it was in house or official accredited course. The more knowledge you express the better.

Once completed send your CV through to recruitment agencies, provide them with your requirements and the rest will be to sell yourself at interview stage. Good Luck!