In the run up to the launch party for our You’re Hired! Graduate Career Handbook Korin Grant and I are posting a series of blogs aimed at students and new grads which offer some tips on career building. In this eleventh post we look at what happens if you don’t get a job after graduation.
If you find yourself unemployed after graduation you shouldn’t panic. It has happened to generations of students before you. No one will be surprised if you have a gap of a couple of months on your CV after graduating. But, you also need to get focused, because you don’t want it to turn into six months or a year.
There are lots of things that you can do to improve your prospects. Firstly, get yourself some benefits and then get some help and advice. After that start applying and spend your spare time getting some work experience and networking. But, at some point you might get to the point where you will have to decide whether to take a job that might not be what you imagined you would be doing after graduation.
Our advice is generally that any job is better than being unemployed!
A reasonable concern with this is that if you start working you may find that you have less chance to research and apply for jobs that really interest you. Depending on your financial situation and the willingness of your parents to support you, it is reasonable to give yourself a period of time to research careers, gain some voluntary experience and put in some applications. However, if you are going to do this be really honest with yourself about whether you are making the most of this opportunity. If you’ve spent a week day playing X-box you really need to get a job.
You should also set a time limit for how long you want to be unemployed. Three months of unemployment after graduation is nothing unusual, but six months is starting to look like a pattern.
In general getting a job, any job is usually a good move. Working will get you into a routine, teach you some employability skills that you can’t get anywhere else and open up some opportunities and networks that you might not expect. Even more importantly it will give you some money!
Even if you are going for a job that you aren’t that excited about you should still treat the application and interview seriously. No one will employ you if you tell them that that you don’t really want the job. You might think that you are too good to flip burgers but the manager of Crabby Patty will only be interested in whether they think that you are good enough. You need to be able to convince any employer that you are competent and that you have a good attitude.
If you are going to go for a stop gap job there are a few things to think about that might turn it into a career opportunity.
- Good pay. I’m sure that we don’t have to tell you this, but finding a better paid job will make your life easier and also help you to negotiate a better starting salary in your next job.
- Flexibility. If you are keen to move on quickly to another job you might have to go to interviews fairly often. You want to find a job that will allow you to do this.
- Related to your interest. Finding a job that relates to your interests can be a really good way to get into an industry. If you get a job as a receptionist or assistant in a company that you want to work for you will get the chance to meet key staff and tell them that you are really looking to move up fast.
- Learning opportunity. Some jobs might give you a chance to learn some new skills or knowledge that may be useful for your future career. Taking advantage of these kinds of learning opportunities will really pay off for your career in the long run.
So in summary, life isn’t perfect. You might have to do somethings that you don’t want to do – but moving forwards is almost always better than sitting still!