HELP! – I graduated almost six months ago and I am still unemployed…

Firstly – congratulations on gaining your degree!

Secondly – don’t panic.  I know, it’s hard not to but there ARE jobs out there.

Is this you?

  • Is your mum nagging at you to get out of bed and DO something 😦
  •  You can’t see your bedroom floor because it has become a dirty washing cemetery? 😦
  • Comfort eating has set in. 😦
  • Student loan has dried up– you can’t even afford a pint!  😦
  • All your friends seem to be on graduate scheme or back at postgrads 😦
  • Are you broke, is your overdraft is stretched and you can’t remember the last time your bank balance was in the black? 😦 😦
  • Does every day bring another pile of rejections? 😦 😦 😦
  • Is the Job Centre pressuring you to join a work scheme – you DID sign on for JSA didn’t you? 😦 😦 😦

If the answer is yes – I’m afraid I’m going to have to be blunt. It’s time you woke up and smelt the coffee.  The party is over; it is time to get your life sorted.

So, what next?

Get some help.  For 12 months after graduation, you can access help from Careers Network, to enable you to make that important transition into the work place.  You can use our super informative web pages, email us, ring us up or come in and see us in person 🙂 , all through Careers Connect, or you can call on 0121 414 6120

Meanwhile, ask yourself these questions…

1.       Do I know what I want to do?

  • If yes, great! GO DO IT 🙂
  • No? Don’t panic,
    • come and talk to a Careers Adviser
    •   have a nosey through Prospects Planner ( for job ideas.
    • look at careers/job pages for individual employers
    •  talk to parents of friends who do the job you want to do – it’s not always what you know, but who you know.
    •  work shadow…
    • Find out what it really takes to become that ecotoxicologist, accountant, distribution hub manager… Don’t assume that your future job will have any relation to your degree subject

2.       Have I got the qualifications and skill set required?

  • Although 65% of graduate jobs don’t need a specific degree, many professions require you to undertake further professional or postgraduate study before you are fully qualified.Many may also require you to demonstrate competency before you gain professional registration
  • If you need specific skills, you can develop
  • p these through volunteering, part time work, or further study.  Many postgraduate courses start in Jan/Feb, so don’t worry, it isn’t too late! J
  • Yes, it is tough out there, but if you understand that having a degree doesn’t automatically qualify you for most jobs, and that you still have to undertake further study /training, it makes it easier

3.       Do I have an effective job search strategy?

  • Applying for any job going, or sending out an untailored CV to every company in your home town is NOT an effective job search.
  •   But neither is doing nothing – your job while job seeking is job hunting.  You should be researching companies and jobs, and sending off 2 or 3 well crafted, specifically tailored applications each week.  You must not be sending the same generic CV to hundreds of postings on job boards; it’s a waste of time and effort.
  • Draw up a list of appropriate sites to search, and set up job alerts
  • When you see a job, match yourself against the criteria specified, and if you meet a significant proportion, apply.
  • Unless you have significant job experience, you are not going to land a managerial job  straight away – so look for graduate entry level roles that will train you
  • If you are applying for graduate schemes, make sure you apply before the deadline, and get your competency questions checked before you send them – something you can do at Careers Network. We have a team of highly trained application advisors.

4.       What can I do to improve my chances of success?

  • Keep your networks up to date – Join your professional body as a graduate member and attend meetings and seminars locally.  This helps to get your face known to potential recruiters / employers
  • Use sector specific job boards rather than monster etc., and check them regularly
  • Create a LinkedIn profile
  • Build up a bank of examples to use as evidence in applications that you possess the skills required for the job

5.        Am I imposing restrictions on myself?

  • It has to be a graduate scheme with a blue chip company. Applications to these are incredibly competitive – enhance your applications by demonstrating you meet their criteria.  Bear in mind that less than 20% of graduate jobs are covered by these schemes J
  • It has to be a ’graduate’ job – it would be great if that was always the case, but in a competitive job environment, we sometimes have to start a little bit lower and work our way up.  If you really want to work for a specific company, it may be the only way…
  • Salary – be realistic. Look at the going rates in your local area – they do vary by sector, so if this is an important factor for you, do your research…
  • Location – be prepared to relocate if needed, and also think hard about travelling times and distances.  Commuting an hour and a half each way may sound OK now, but it becomes a chore after a while, especially in bad weather.  Conversely, you can’t wait for that job at the end of the road to materialise either
  • Hours – you may want to work full time, but part time is better than nothing – you are gaining experience and skills which will enhance your applications for other jobs.  You may not like the idea of unsocial hours either, but in some sectors this is standard – and you just have to get used to it

6.       I need / want  to do postgraduate study

  • Research courses, universities and funding
  • Check if the course is accredited by your intended professional body
  • Apply, gain a place, sort out your funding (!) and do it!

7.       I want to travel

  • What benefits will you be able to articulate to a potential employer? There is nothing inherently wrong in travelling, but you need to be able to make the links to skills developed during the travel to employers so they don’t consider it as ‘holiday’
  • Funding travel – don’t expect to be funded by the bank of mum & dad – get a job,any job, and SAVE money to go travelling.  You can frequently pick up part time work when travelling – e.g. teaching English, picking fruit, retail, catering…

Having read all that, it’s not looking quite so bad, is it?!

With all the help available, you can and will be successful – it’s just taking you a bit longer than you thought.    You now need to set yourself up for the future.


About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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