Graduate training schemes can be a great pathway, and they’re at the forefront of most final-year’s minds as they furiously clutch that free stress ball from Deloitte.
I mean, yeah, Aldi might be offering a 40K starting salary and an Audi A4, but grad schemes aren’t always the best way to get ahead.
The majority of grads don’t even get onto a scheme. Graduate job hunting’s no walk in the park, and it’s only getting more competitive; fun fact - youth unemployment is at its worst since the 1980s.
So perhaps it’s worth dodging those corporate giants at the campus fair and investing a thought into some alternatives…
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Ok, now back to the tips:
Social media, talking to people, harassing family and friends - do what you need to do to get ahead! Knowing the right people can be key to opening doors, so be opportunistic in making new contacts.
LinkedIn needs to be your new best friend too. Build your profile, add your credentials and a (professional) profile pic and then get people to endorse your skills. Start following people and companies you like, connect with people you know and watch your network grow.
2. Polish Your Profile
Take a long, hard look at your profile and then try and build a CV around your skills and experience. Throw in some action words and examples of your achievements - and some modest boasting won’t hurt either.
Tailor your applications to specific jobs roles with a great covering letter, making sure you can demonstrate what you can do for the company, and what they can do for you.
As a struggling final-year, recruiters can be a lifeline! Based on your profile they can find the jobs that will suit you, put you forward for applications, and prep you for interviews - helping you stand out.
3. Look at entry-level jobs
Entry-level jobs ask that candidates have a degree, so CONGRATS you’re halfway there!
With entry-level jobs you never used to need much experience, so they were always pretty perfect for new grads. But, alas, times have changed. Nowadays employers expect developed work environment skills in their candidates, usually achieved through voluntary/part-time work or internships.
The crucial thing is to read the job spec and make sure you hit the criteria, and are able to give examples of achieving them too.
4. Get yourself an internship
Which leads us here – short-term placement roles to help you learn some industry skills, spruce up that bland CV and get your foot in the door. This kind of work might not pay you, but you’ll be able to expand your network and make those horizons feel a bit less bleak – and you can get started while you’re still studying. You might even land a job at the end of it all!
5. Look at start-ups/SMEs
Remember that small and medium enterprises have loads of opportunities for grads too. The UK’s start-up scene is thriving, so if you fancy a taste of that for a change have a gander at your options.
SMEs can be literally anything, from tech start-ups to niche media firms, so the world really is your small or medium oyster. It’s the chance to escape that corporate animal-herding metaphor and land a position with more responsibility and a more personal work environment.
6. Apply to companies directly
This doesn’t just go for SMEs, you can approach any company you like the look of and send a speculative application. Showing a company that you’re proactively looking to work for them will put you miles ahead of the others. It also means there’s probably less competition to bat off, so win-win.
7. Start your own business
Did you watch The Social Network and just think it looked super easy and straightforward? Well if you did then you probably shouldn’t start your own business – but if you do have a decent idea and the know-how to set yourself up, being self-employed might solve all your problems.
8. Do a postgrad!
It’s a scary old world out there, you might be better off in the library’s nourishing warmth for another year. If your 10,000 word disso just wasn’t enough to quench your thirst for research, do another one!
The government now offers loans specifically for Master’s courses, and, better yet, many unis offer their own grads discount to continue with a postgrad at the same uni. Many employers like to see Master’s candidates, so you can just keep milking that system until you’re more sure of your career direction.
So don’t let depressing grad scheme searches which make you want to shred your CV get you down. It’s not all doom and gloom, search widely and make the effort with networking and companies you like the look of – you’d be surprised how many positions welcome graduates! (But maybe enquire first if it’s not clear, that time could be better wasted in the library.)
And let’s face it, you’ll probably be at least 70 before you can claim your state pension, so it’s probably a good idea to get as far ahead now as you can, even if it means working voluntarily or holding out until you find what’s right for you.