For the first-time job hunter the period between finishing your studies and the day you receive that much anticipated job offer can be a lengthy and anxious one. But it’s important not to lose heart.
Some people assume getting the perfect first job will be a piece of cake; that it’ll all happen in a flash so that they conveniently cruise straight from uni into the workforce. In a perfect world that would certainly be the case, but unfortunately, the reality is often very different.
It’s important to bear in mind that it’s often not easy to get your foot in the door. These days many industries are increasingly competitive, and the job-hunting period can be difficult and long. It may take a considerable length of time, often several months, and multiple rejections before you find your first job.
But it’s important to stay positive. There are a few useful and important things to consider that may help you maximise your job-hunting success, minimise stress, and make the job-hunting period as enjoyable and positive as possible.
A few tips for staying positive
Remember, you’re not alone. You may feel like you’re the only one suffering the trials of the job hunt but you’re not, there are many others in the same boat as you—just ask your friends! Try not to take it personally. A job rejection is likely to be much more about experience levels and skills matching than it is about you as a person. Try to look at the bigger picture.
This will probably be the hardest job-hunting period you will ever face. Once you’ve got that all-important first job it’s likely to be a lot easier securing subsequent positions.
Keep in contact with fellow students who may be in a similar situation. Go for coffee, remind yourselves that you’re not alone, and encourage each other. It’s amazing just how useful this can be in maintaining morale and helping you stay focussed.
A few tips for staying productive and on top of the game
New graduates often come up against the bewildering catch-22 that you’re probably already familiar with: you need experience before many employers will consider you, yet you need a job in order to get that experience. Or do you? Volunteer work provides valuable work experience that can be a crucial first step to securing a position in the industry of your choice. Keep in contact with your former teachers and lecturers. They are often a great resource and may have useful industry contacts and links to the sorts of jobs you’re after. Let them know that you’re looking for work and where your particular goals and interests lie. Remember, as the old saying goes: ‘It’s not what you know but who you know’!
Stay in contact with other recent graduates. Like your former teachers, they too may act as an important resource and potential link to job opportunities.
Develop your networking skills. Don’t be afraid to approach people and ask—you’ve got nothing to lose! Try to make contact with as many people in your desired industry as possible and get your name out there. Don’t be afraid to send out your resume to prospective employers even if you haven’t seen a job advertised.
Get someone experienced to check your resume and give you feedback to help improve it.
Even a good resume could be made great with a bit of help from an experienced eye.
Ask someone to run you through a practice interview. This will help you develop your interview and communication skills, give you experience dealing with those inevitable tricky questions, and most importantly, build your confidence.