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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Seize opportunities and other useful tips from Nick

Great advice from Nick Talbot an ex-TARGETjobs work experience member of the marketing team (we miss him!!) 

Hi. My name’s Nick. As a recent graduate who is currently employed, with a grad scheme position lined up for September 2012, I’ve been asked to chip in with some advice for all you student job hunters. In this entry I hope to pass on a few general points, which will help you to structure your first year after completing university, with the aim of breaking into the job market.

First things first. Congratulations to everyone who has graduation to look forward to this year, or even over the next few years. The celebrations will be wild, and sharing in your friends’ successes as well as your own creates a sense of collective achievement. Nothing makes you value your hard work and the good times along the way more than the realisation that your time at university is coming to an end.

That said, many people around you and in the media would have you believe that there’s not much to look forward to on the other side. If you took it to heart you might think that the world was coming to a stand still. Well, don’t panic. There is a world outside university and a job market that still values graduates a great deal. It might be a cliché, but we really are all the world’s future leaders- a fact that isn’t lost on most companies.

So how do you go about getting what is probably your first “proper” job? Well first of all it helps to know what you want that job to look like. That is to say, create a clear job-related goal or an outline of the job you are aiming for. For some of you this may mean setting yourself the target of getting 3 or more internships/temp jobs over the next 12 months in a variety of industries, to help you decide what roles suit you. For others it might mean trying to get a grad scheme offer from one of the Big 4 accountancy firms for next September in their audit department.

Now those goals might seem a bit advanced right now, but the more ambitious and specific your targets, the more you start to actively think and research what you want to do. Which brings us to my next tip. Make use of your free time. This doesn’t necessarily mean spend every waking minute job hunting though. Chances are after university you’ll have a fair amount of free time if you’re still seeking work, or just doing part time odds and ends to earn some cash. At the time you might not know what to do to keep yourself entertained on a low budget and boredom could set in. But that free time is like gold dust. Whether you take up a hobby, catch up with friends, or research different jobs it’ll be time well spent. Staying busy and being productive are crucial to remaining upbeat during a job hunt.

Seeking and sharing help and advice from a range of sources, is my third pointer. Perhaps the word “networking” needs a bit of rebranding. It comes across to me as a bit egotistical and one-sided. Chances are if you genuinely take an interest in talking to people about their experiences and spread the word that you’re interested in learning more about jobs, people will mention opportunities or provide useful advice. Your parents have probably been there and done that when it comes to building a career, so they’re a good place to start. The internet too, is full of detailed personal and factual accounts of different industries and roles. Friends can be a good source of information as regards the here and now. My university career service was limited in what it offered but the service and leads were of a very good quality. If you spread your job hunt into more social or adventurous activities you’ll probably enjoy it more and open up new opportunities.

Seizing opportunities is tip number four. For example when I heard that someone at my friends workplace had left, I knew that they would need someone. Who better to hire at short notice than a job-seeking graduate who is available immediately and friends with one of their current employees? (I got the job). Likewise if you do get an interview put the extra effort in to research the company and try to emphasise how you have the skills they’re looking for.

Finally I want to put forward my interpretation of job hunts. My chosen phrase is: “it’s (almost) a numbers game”. Yes, getting your CV out there is essential. Yes, the sooner you can get over being rejected (or even not hearing anything at all!) the better. But how I intend to use that phrase is to suggest that every company with a vacancy or potential position looks for a good fit. Realising that you wouldn’t really be happy with just any job will hopefully help you empathise with the employer. That means by researching jobs you want, putting yourself out there and being positive about every opportunity that comes, you will come closer to achieving your goal.

For more helpful tips and advice on how to get yourself ready for the graduate job hunt why not visit our career pages