Help! I’ve just graduated, and I haven’t got a job yet
I studied international management at the University of Manchester and like many students, didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do after I graduated in 2009. There were lots of intimidatingly impressive people on my degree, and everyone else seemed to have a much better idea about what career path they wanted to take.
Fast-forward 13 years, and now I work as a career coach and consultant, helping people get clarity as to what career path they want to take, and take steps to get there. I love my job now, but it wasn’t always this way. I spent many years unclear what I wanted to do, stuck in roles that weren’t quite right for me, and feeling like everyone else knew what they were doing.
To the graduating class of 2022, I have one message. It’s OK if you haven’t found your dream job yet. And it’s OK if you don’t even know what that dream job looks like.
Here are my top five tips for graduates feeling overwhelmed by the graduate job market:
1. Get to know yourself really well
Often graduates leap into job applications without being clear what it is they’re really looking for. Take time to reflect and identify your personal strengths (not just what you are good at but also what you enjoy doing), your personal values and your career preferences.
Would you prefer to work for a global company? A large company? Do you want to travel? To be able to work from home? Take time to work out your preferences, and your deal breakers – what you know you aren’t willing to compromise on.
2. Talk to others about their careers
Networking can seem intimidating, but at a fundamental level it’s simply about connecting with others. Talk to friends, parents, and anyone else you can about what their job entails. Ask questions to learn more about what they do and don’t enjoy about their career.
Attend networking events with the objective of learning, rather than landing a job. Be curious and learn as much as you can about what is out there, but don’t panic if you start to feel overwhelmed – there are a lot of options out there and that can feel intimidating! Take it step by step and make notes to capture your learnings.
3. Create a plan
When you want to start applying for jobs, come up with a plan of action to help you manage your time and plan effectively. Some job applications can take a while to complete, and some deadlines may clash. It’s important to focus on quality rather than quantity – employers want you to personalise your job applications to showcase your motivation.
Ensure you build in down time from completing job applications too – it’s not productive to spend 10 hours a day applying for jobs
4. Avoid the comparison trap
It often feels like everyone else has their career all figured out. Remember that people are more likely to shout about their successes than their failures. Many others will also be feeling confused, lost and unsure what path they want to take.
Remember that comparing your progress to others isn’t helpful, and it’s often inaccurate. You are comparing your internal doubts, fears, and insecurities with someone else’s polished and curated external image that they are choosing to share. Concentrate on your own journey and your own job-hunting experience, rather than worrying about what other people are doing.
5. Seek help
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone else about how you’re feeling. Your university careers service may be able to offer guidance and support even after you’ve graduated.
Want more advice on how to work out what you want from your career and how to land your dream job? Later this year I am releasing my first book – Graduate Careers Uncovered. This encompasses everything I have learnt in my 13 years’ experience working in graduate recruitment and career consulting. To be first to hear when the book is released, and to be in with a chance to win a free copy, drop me an email with ‘Book’ in the subject line.
Congratulations and good luck to everyone graduating this year!
Hannah Salton is a qualified executive coach, career consultant and former graduate recruiter. She spent the first eight years of her career recruiting graduate talent for top international corporations before transitioning to a career in coaching and consulting in 2017.