You have your degree – now what next?

You’ve finished your degree – what next?

While some students take time out to travel the world, volunteer for a good cause or enrol on
another course, the vast majority of new graduates set their sights on chancing their arm in the big bad world of work the moment their gown and mortar board are handed back over to the hire company.

Some approach the job market in eager anticipation, some with trepidation and some with a plain old confused and puzzled look on their face.

So which category do you fall into?

And what do you actually want to do work wise?

These are significant questions, but it is surprising just how many graduates don’t really know
what they want to do upon leaving university. Worse still, many who do know are still frequently unprepared, and so miss out when it comes to landing their target job and fulfilling their career objectives.

Really, this isn’t so surprising when you consider the differences between student and professional life, and between academic and commercial work. True, there are some overlaps; standards to reach, deadlines to meet, procedures to follow etc. Even so, impressing an employer so much that they want to hire you over and above all the competition isn’t quite the same as getting an ‘A’ grade in your history module. For one thing, it is possible for others on your course to also get an ‘A’ grade, whereas in commerce there is frequently only one job per advertised vacancy. Similarly, personality rarely comes into the equation in academia; usually if you’re good enough you get the grade. This is not the same in commerce, and employers often want to know whether you will be a good fit for their organisation. This is one reason why they are so particular about CVs, personal statement and application forms. And it is also a primary reason why they grill candidates so thoroughly at interview.

Whilst there is competition in academia, it isn’t to the same degree as in commerce, so new graduates can be forgiven for not quite being fully prepared when they are thrown into the dog eat dog world of work at the deep end.

So what can you do to prepare?

How long is a piece of string?

There are lots of things that you can do, and really they are better explained in detail in a book, rather than just summarised in a short article. However, one highly significant tip that can dramatically boost your odds is to remember that the job market is NOT a level playing field, and remember that competition is fierce. Yes, it is good and even commendable if you want to rely on your own steam when it comes to job applications. At the same time, if when you look in the mirror, you admit to yourself that perhaps you aren’t the greatest writer in the world, and you are not the world’s leading authority on (or even particularly au fait with CVs, cover letters, personal statements, application forms etc), then you may want to do what many of your competitors do, and get smart and look for some quality professional help to give you the edge.

Of course quality costs, but if you choose the right CV consultant then it’s an investment. And even if you don’t have the budget for e.g. a top quality CV consultant then there are some very good CV
books on the market (well one at least!).

Paul (182 Posts)

Paul , top UK CV specialist, head of leading firm CV Succeed, and author of the most pioneering CV book in decades, The One Page CV (published by top career sector publishers Pearson Education).

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