The Best Advice For Graduate Job Hunters
18th May 2023
From the moment you decide to look for a new job, there are several pinch points where stress can easily creep in. For some, this will be the search itself while for others, worry sets in when you start your new job.
Recent graduates in our team share their advice - information that with hindsight, they wish they'd known when they were job hunting.
We can’t promise to make the experience stress-free but, based on their own experiences and conversations with candidates during the placement process, we think this real-life guidance will help.
What job is right for me?
It’s not always easy to know what the right next step is going to be. Take plenty of time to think about what you want to do, what would motivate you, and make you happy to go to work.
Do your research and ask those who know you best, friends and family, what they think your strengths are and what they envision you doing.
You'll find much more success if you focus your search.
Online psychometric assessments can provide insight into what sort of job might suit your personality based on your strengths and motivations. You might be surprised at some of the suggestions, after all, there are lots of jobs out there that you haven’t even heard of.
Megan Sutherland from our Supply Chain recruitment team recommends focusing your job search once you have decided what you want to do: “You’ll find much more success if you focus your search and apply to jobs within one area, rather than scattering your applications across jobs randomly found on job boards.”
No, we’re not asking you to settle down with a life partner. Rather, are you ready to commit to your job search?
Megan continues: “You need to ensure you are fully ready and committed to your job search. Don’t apply for a job and then ghost the employer if you’re asked for more information in relation to your application or invited to interview. This discredits your name, and you could unknowingly burn professional bridges.”
If you’re someone who works better in small teams, make sure you keep this front of mind when looking for a new job.
Leigh-Anne McIntyre from our Business Support team says: “Making the team or business size part of the job search criteria means you’re more likely to find a role which is going to be a better, long-term fit.”
When looking for a new job Hannah Smith, Office Support recruiter, recommends having realistic expectations and making the most of opportunities to get valuable experience and develop useful skills. “We sometimes see candidates whose expectations aren’t in line with their qualifications and experience and their focus on jobs which are beyond their reach means they do miss out on jobs which have good career potential. For example, having a degree does not mean you will necessarily be an employer’s preferred candidate, or be able to walk into a managerial role.
There is no substitute for getting experience and proving your skills and capabilities.
“It’s important to remember that there is no substitute for getting experience and proving your skills and capabilities. In the longer term, this will help you to progress in your chosen career because you will have achievements behind you that speak to your abilities.”
Patience is a Virtue
Some people will find a new role extremely quickly, while others will take longer.
Don't compare yourself to others.
The key message from Hannah is that everyone’s job search is different. “Looking for your first job can take time. On the other hand, some people manage to secure a role before even graduating. The point is that it is different for everyone, and it is important not to compare yourself to others.”
If you’re concerned about the length of time it is taking to secure a new role, Hannah has this advice. “Talk to someone who knows the sector you are trying to get into and get their take on the situation. That’s where specialist recruiters can really help, we know the job market and will have recommendations for you to follow up.”
Once you’ve secured a new job, the team has this advice for getting started and settling in.
Go Easy on Yourself
When starting a new role, it’s very easy to put yourself under pressure to get up to speed as quickly as possible. However, HR recruiter Lauren Hutton’s key tip is to be kind to yourself. “I got very frustrated that I wasn’t learning certain aspects of the role as quickly as others and had that nasty ‘imposter syndrome’. I had to remind myself that we all learn at different rates.”
I had that nasty imposter syndrome.
Lauren also found that asking questions and taking lots of organised notes she could refer to, was helpful. “There’s no such thing as a silly question. After all, you don’t know, what you don’t know. I found that my manager was glad I asked lots of questions because it gave him the opportunity to explain things clearly and check that I understood what he meant. My manager is not a mind reader! By asking questions I maintained open communication between us and he understood that I was asking questions because I was keen to do the best I could.”
Working in an open-plan office can also prove extremely useful for picking up tips. Lauren recommends taking notice of what is going on around you and listening to how your colleagues interact with one another. “Paying attention to what is going on around you can provide valuable insight, you’re learning just by listening to how more experienced colleagues go about their work.”
It’s good to get regular feedback during the first few months of a new role. Leigh-Anne has found this to be the case. “Having one-to-one time with your manager can make you feel supported and more productive. It is good to have these meetings in the calendar, aside from letting me make sure I am hitting the correct criteria, they also provide a chance to raise any issues I might have.”