University is often the last step for someone before they move into their chosen career field. After years of studying and refining the skills you need to get a job your degree quickly becomes one of your greatest achievements and so important for your potential employers.
Something that tends to be overlooked however is the timeframe between graduating a university course and securing your desired job. Sometimes it can happen quite quickly, with some students already securing a job before they finish university. On the other hand, it may be a slow and frustrating journey into your career, especially when it involves a very competitive line of work.
After completing my course in Journalism and PR, I’ve been searching for a job myself in either industry, and unfortunately my path has been the slow and frustrating one, which is why I think it is important for current/future graduates to understand a few key things about the transition from university life to work life, based on my own experiences job searching.
The first thing to consider is how to present yourself to employers and the best way to approach them, or be seen by them. This begins with a CV, which is fundamentally important and needs to be written and set out correctly. A good CV is one that informs employers of all the qualities you possess, your skills, experience, a little bit of personal information about yourself and any references or past employment you can think of. It also needs to be enjoyable to read so it is always a good idea to make it stand out. You can do this by boldening key words, breaking it down into sections etc. It essentially needs to be a reflection of yourself and show why you are a good fit for the job you’re applying for, but it also needs to be easy to read, remember they probably have a stack to go through, and won’t waste their time on badly written or messily laid out documents.
LinkedIn is also a brilliant tool and is something you should set yourself up on; if you’re not already. It not only provides you with a profile to list your experience, but also allows you to connect with employers and receive notifications on job opportunities based on what information is featured on your profile. When you’re happy with your presentation, the next step is to allow yourself to be noticed by employers. Look at businesses and groups they follow on LinkedIn and what they write about, it’s good to build up background information on the area you are interested in.
Another way of making contact is through an email template. This involves looking for employers that you’d like to work for, in my case it was news publications and PR firms, find the best contact information for each one and construct an email template featuring who you are, what you’ve studied, what career you’re looking for and attaching your CV. You’re never guaranteed a reply, or a job offer, but it can at least put you on their radar and maybe even lead to work experience or information regarding upcoming vacancies.
Going through an application process is where job searching is at its trickiest. In terms of preparation, I’d say interview technique is where you should focus your efforts. It’s best to think of a few key talking points regarding your experience for the role, which have a good balance of showing your expertise in a subject as well as your passion for it. Employers are looking for someone suited for the role in terms of attitude as well as experience, so reflecting this in your examples is crucial for making the right impression. Something I’m personally guilty of is underselling myself. This is easily done as no one wants to look egotistical but when explained in the right way, it simply comes across as being confident and driven, qualities desired by employers. Interviews in general tend to become easier the more you take part in them, as you start to understand the kind of questions, you’re likely to be asked so you can better prepare for them.
Most importantly, as the job market is flooded at the moment. it’s important to prepare yourself for the possibility of rejection. Always remember that you are competing with others, and sometimes other people are simply more suited to a role than you are. While this can be upsetting, frustrating and deter you from other applications, it’s important to take a negative and attempt to draw a positive from it. If an employer tells you that they’re not advancing your application, you should try to find out why and if it’s anything you can improve on, whether it be a lack of work experience, not looking confident during interviews, not having the right qualifications etc. Any information can be helpful as it can give you something to improve on as well as ease your mind if there was nothing wrong with your application and it was simply a matter of someone else being more suited to the role. Regardless of the reason, you should never allow it to lessen your confidence, and instead let it drive you to succeed the next time you apply for something.
Finally, having a job in another field while you apply for your dream job isn’t a bad thing. Whether you’re living at home or on your own, you’re inevitably going to need some money. While it would be nice to earn money in a job you want to be in, sometimes holding onto a steady job with a steady income is enough. Besides the obvious positive of acquiring work experience and life skills, working also gives you some peace of mind. When I finished university, I didn’t have a job at all and seeing my bank balance slowly decrease was stressful and made feel the need to rush into a career. After recently starting a retail job, I feel a lot better and don’t feel that same urgency, allowing me to send out applications knowing that I have a fallback plan if things don’t work out.
Overall, your own mental and physical health comes before anything, and as anyone would tell you, there’s never any shame in asking for support, from your family, university, job seeking organisations or mental health support groups. There’s always someone who’ll be there to help you out and put you back on the right track if you’re ever stuck.
Sam is a University of Salford graduate where he studied a joint course of journalism and PR
Sam can be contacted on LikedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-cawley-93598a120/
Note: 'Student Blog' articles highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.