Some home truths about the world of work

A good CV is not necessarily your starting point

Many recent graduates believe that once they have a CV, they can send it off ‘scattergun’ style, sit back and wait for the interview offers. You might get lucky, but you need to recognise that the CV shouldn’t be the priority. The process of finding fulfilling work (assuming you want to find something fulfilling rather than just any old graduate job?) is all about being able to answer these three questions in order – Who am I? What do I want? How do I get it? The first part relates to being clear about your skills, values, personality, abilities and passions. That’s the foundation you need in order to identify the right sector and role that could be a good fit for you. Only then will you be ready to take aim and fire with your CV. 

You don’t have to be defined by your first job

I’ve often heard recruiters say that today’s graduates want everything too soon. Perhaps in the immediacy of today’s society we are all a little guilty of falling into that trap. When you talk about climbing the career ladder it’s important to remember that the bottom rung is not always the graduate job; it’s sometimes an admin job at a relatively small firm or performing a hands-on role before being considered for management. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that such jobs are now ‘beneath you’ – you will find that they can provide the experience that can make all the difference between an offer and rejection. 

There is more to you than the degree you attain

Many students go through university believing that their degree topic or indeed their degree classification is the ticket to that elusive graduate job. It may be true that they can open up certain avenues, but they are by no means the ‘be all and end all’. Recruiters also want to see what makes you unique. Work experience, either paid or voluntary, plus extra-curricular activities demonstrate a proactive attitude and give you the opportunity to demonstrate the kind of skills that can’t be developed in the lecture hall. Remember, you don’t need a salary in order to contribute. 

Repeating the same job search strategy will not always secure a job

They say (well, apparently, Einstein said) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If something isn’t working, it’s important that you remain open-minded. If you’re stuck, don’t be too proud to ask for help. Independent career coaches, your old university careers department, contacts and mentors in the ‘real world’ are all available options. 

Flexibility is key

If you’re not flexible, you’ll pound your head against the wall and you won’t see a different solution to a problem you’re trying to solve.  Jeff Bezos.

If you’re only prepared to return to the Isle of Wight to find your dream job after graduating, you may have to wait a bit longer than your peers in London. I’m not saying that you need to work in London, nor am I telling you to avoid the Isle of Wight(!), far from it, but the more flexible you are when it comes to location, or indeed the type of role you consider, the more chances you have of landing a great job.

For every rejection, you are getting closer to an offer

Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill.

Keep perspective

When your focus is 100 per cent on one thing, such as job hunting, it can become a bit of a holy grail. True contentment, however, is wrapped up in our values. If you can identify your values, i.e. what is important to you, this will help you to put some perspective on your situation and help you to continue your job search in a more positive frame, of mind. It will also help you to find work that’s in line with those values.