Graduation inevitably spells an end of an era for many people, a transition period between study and the world of work. Naturally, there is some hesitation that comes with stepping out into the unknown, and making yourself seem employable may present itself as a challenge. Fear not, here are my top 5 tips for making yourself more employable.
Firstly, though not one of my five main points, it is important to reflect on your University years and congratulate yourself on successfully graduating. I’m sure that many of you felt a similar kind of trepidation when first embarking on your academic career as you do now, you survived University so I promise you that you’ll conquer this too.
1. Be Pragmatic
‘Be pragmatic’ by itself is an ambiguous instruction. What is meant by the phrase is to ‘think sensibly and plan’. There will be many people who have graduated with the same degree as you, what sets you apart after graduation is how effectively you apply yourself to the job hunt.
A key way to understand what employers in your field are looking for is to scour job adverts before you even think about applying for yourself.
Identify what jobs you most like the look of and evaluate the most commonly mentioned skills. What transferable skills are most important to the jobs you want to do? Think about how you have previously displayed those skills either in your studies or through other previous experience; make sure to promote these in your CV or on any future cover letter.
If you have not previously shown these skills then think about a way to rectify that, either through work experience or enlisting on a course. Even if you do not feel like you are particularly skilled in a certain area when leaving university, that’s not to say that the situation can’t change if you prioritize things correctly.
2. Be Open-minded and Challenge Yourself
Studying within the confines of a certain discipline can affect how you see the world of employment. It is hugely important that when you are ready to search for jobs that you do not expect to find something custom suited to your degree.
Studying more often than not strengthens more than just the ability to research and answer questions. Employers will be looking to see what ‘transferrable skills’ you have developed over your time in academia. These can be many different things, from resourcefulness, the ability to problem-solve, or the ability to work well under pressure.
Most employers realize that University is not an easy thing to complete successfully; often they will be better at recognizing your potential than you will.
More often than not employers understand that graduates still have a lot to learn within the job itself, and they are not looking to hire the completed article. It is important to be brave in new situations, apply for a job you want; even if you do think it might be a bit too far out of your reach. What is the worst that could happen? You might even make it to an interview!
The employability situation for an interview is the same, in my opinion, you could never have enough practice in an interview environment.
If you are offered multiple interviews in the same week, make sure to attend all of them. People often feel pressured to accept jobs because they’ve been successfully interviewed, a job offer is not binding and just because you’ve spoken to the employer’s face to face it does not mean you have to accept their offer. You decide, if you like the job take it, if there are more interviews and more options available then take your time to pick the one that’s right for you.
The best way to overcome employability nerves is to attend as many interviews as possible, by doing this you will also have the experience of holding out for something that you want.
3. Be Proactive and Maintain a Positive Attitude
You may have heard this before regarding employability, most likely from your parents, but the adage ‘the world doesn’t owe you anything’ is unfortunately true. For the lucky few a good job may land on your lap, but for the vast majority, you’ll have to go out there and work hard to earn one.
Being proactive and doing whatever you can to improve on your current situation is bound to have a positive effect on your search for employment. Whether that is checking whether your CV is up to date, and is stylistically correct, or preparing varying cover letters that you can use for different job roles.
Be prepared for potential employability interviews or trial days and make yourself aware of common tactics and questions that are used in the interview environment. The more prepared you are for each stage of the hiring process, the better you are likely to come across to potential employers.
4. Leverage Counselors and Services
Many people will come out of University without a firm grasp on what it is they want to do vocationally. In these instances, it is always better to seek professional advice rather than wandering into the job market. Your university will have a career advice service where they will have people who understand employability inside out, find out where they are located, and get yourself acquainted with the service.
Sometimes pride can get in the way of seeking advice, and I can understand that as someone who has a degree you feel qualified enough to make decisions regarding your future without any help.
However, it is important to remember that careers advice is there to listen and advise you, not to try to force you into anything you don’t want to do.
Following on from the previous point, it is always good to maintain an open mind when dealing with careers advice, there might be something that had never crossed your mind before that suits you down to the ground!
5. Understand Rejection
Things don’t always go as planned, and in many instances, you might find yourself receiving a rejection email for a job you wanted. Now, I understand that rejection can be disheartening but it can also be the key indicator as to where you are going wrong in your job search.
Don’t dwell on what might have been, instead turn your focus on why you were rejected. In most instances a company will highlight why they deemed your application to be below their standards, take note of what is said, it is there to help not to criticize.
If a company does not send any information as to why you were rejected, then email them back and ask! It never hurts to enquire, and any company worth working for will send you some feedback on your application.
Searching for a new job can be daunting for employability, but the fact you are already looking for advice is a good sign. If you maintain the diligence that you have shown so far by getting here, and follow my advice above, you should be able to work out and plan your next moves forward.
Choosing a vocation is something that might take some time, but searching for a new job is something that should be filled with anticipation and excitement, not fear. Never compare your situation to others, and make sure not to make excuses! Remember that if you work hard enough towards something like employability, the likelihood is that you will achieve it.