Career Advice for the Savvy Jobseeker
Strangely enough, I realised I’ve never actually addressed the whole topic of career advice or jobseeking on this blog, which is interesting because it’s a field that I’ve worked in for a few years now, so it’s definitely something I discuss every day.
I tend to work with people who have established themselves in their careers already, and are usually looking for a promotion or a slight career change as their next step.
However, I thought I’d focus my first career post on the entry level candidates; people who have just left school and/or university, and those who aren’t quite sure what they should do next. Here are a couple of my tips for success!
Work out where your gaps are - this means taking stock of exactly what skills and experience you have so far, (and bear in mind that this doesn’t necessarily have to be experience in a previous job, it can be life experience), and measuring the jobs you’d like to apply for, against it. Work out where the gaps are and how you can gain experience if required.
Use your connections - this doesn’t mean you need to move in the highest society circles. Everyone knows someone; your parents might have friends who can offer you a starting point, you could go make an appointment with an old school teacher and speak to them, or even try your local library or community centre. A personal connection can often help to get your foot in the door, especially for entry level jobs.
Examine your interests - job searching is different when you know exactly what you want to do (because that typically gives you a career path to get you there), as opposed to when you’re not quite sure where you want to end up. If you fall into the latter category, I’d start with examining your interests; what is it that makes you tick, what are you passionate about, what would you like to learn more about? Start there.
Graduate jobs - for those of you who have left university as graduates and are now finding yourself a bit stuck, remember that your careers centre can usually still help you for at least 6 months after graduation. If you find yourself Googling ‘graduate jobs,’ it’s not the end of the world. Grad schemes don’t last forever and can equip you with interesting and varied skills. Don’t discount them.
Gain varied experience - if you’re not quite sure where you want to end up, I’d recommend trying to gain varied experience. Unless you’re absolutely loving a particular job, I wouldn’t re-apply constantly for the same thing. It can pigeonhole you later on. Try lots of different things and see what takes your fancy.
Check out where the demand is - if, for example, you left school at 18 and didn’t want to go down the university route, and you’re not sure where to start, I would honestly suggest reading up on where candidate demand is the highest. You can either read survey results about this, or just search on job board for salary levels (start from £12k-20k) and see what comes up. The vacancies will be a mix of things which might need certain qualifications (e.g. specific A-levels), and others won’t require anything of the sort. There’s nothing wrong with going for what happens to be available just because it’s not your dream job. Don’t forget that you are allowed to change jobs and careers. No-one’s going to stop you!
Gain qualifications - it’s true that experience counts for a lot, but it’s also true that for some jobs, you simply must have the qualifications. I think we’d all feel a bit funny if our doctors or engineers weren’t qualified for their roles, so if you see a job which requires a degree or other qualification, particularly if it’s something which will offer long term career progression, it might be worth looking into how you can achieve that qualification. For degree programmes, you will typically need certain GCSE and A-level grades to get an offer; other programmes may take you on with less.
Don’t stop looking - just because a suitable job isn’t available right now, don’t stop searching. Vacancies are added all the time and the internet is your best port of call. It’s worth registering with job boards as well as directly with career portals of potential employers. Sign yourself up for job alerts across as many different websites as you can and speak to recruiters in your local area.