I’ve graduated from tertiary study, now what?

Congratulations! You are a new graduate. You have invested much time, energy and money into your study. It’s time to show off your new credentials and make sure your personal and financial investment pays off.  Outlined below are suggested key activities that will help you to focus your energy and take charge of your next steps towards finding a job.

Keep the big picture in mind: use the planning, analytical and organising skills you have developed while studying to strategise and manage your career from the outset. It is not just about resumes and interviews. Make it about where and how you direct your energy and focus on both short and long term goals. Create your own job search criteria and work out where you are prepared to compromise in the short term. Know that your bargaining power will increase over time as you build your assets and experience.jan 2018 - after graduation post

Do a self-assessment
Self-assessment is the key to strategic job search and positive career decisions.   Who are you? What are your skills and how do they match with the jobs you are interested in? Your values are important too. What sort of environment do you want to work in? Do you want to work in a team, or autonomously? Do you need to be challenged? Or is flexibility your biggest priority? Assess who you are and what you have to offer and ensure you are applying for the jobs that suit your skills, interests and values.

What do you have to offer?
Understanding what employers want and what you can do for them will increase your competitiveness. For example: congratulations again, you gained an interview! This means the employer is interested in investing in you and your assets. You turn up to the interview and say you are happy to learn and willing to do anything. Your competitor (who has completed her own skills assessment) says she is focused on building specific skills that align with the advertised position. She provides examples of how she has used other skills which match the position.  Who would you employ?   Take the time to work out your individual offer.

Where are the jobs?
Once you have done your self-assessment, research where the jobs are and again, focus your job search.  It is better to put all your energy into suitable and relevant occupations and get an interview than apply for every position that vaguely fits your job search criteria. You can waste a lot of physical and emotional energy this way.

Be open to entry level positions
There is no such thing as the ‘one and only’ or ‘the right’ job.  You will change jobs, occupations and careers numerous times throughout your working life. You need focus and you also need to stay open to entry level jobs so that you can get your foot in the door.  Find out about entry level positions in your field; reflect on your assets and where you are prepared to compromise in the short term.

Treat your job search like a job. 

  • Download the Job search guide for resume, job application and interview information, tips and hints.
  • Work out a job search plan. Treat your job search like a job. Set goals and make sure you achieve tasks each and every day, within a given time frame. Also make sure you take time out to recharge your batteries. Job search takes energy, focus, determination and stamina.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and support from friends and family. You can also contact your local free career service on 13 64 64.

Finding a mentor

blog_post_5_mentorSometimes when searching for the next best step to take for your career, it can be valuable to see what other people in your position have done. Or perhaps you are seeking a particular achievement in your career (being hired by a specific company, gaining a promotion, or being selected for an award). Talking to other people who have done the thing you want to do can be both a source of instruction and inspiration.

In general, people enjoy lending a hand to others, to see their knowledge being of use to another person. However, approaching a potential mentor can be intimidating. The key solution for this is simple. You just need to make it as easy for the person to help you as possible.

If you are emailing them, keep your message short. You might want to give them the full context of your unique situation, but you are also far liklier to get a quick response if you structure your message to have just a few, straightforward lines:

  1. A greeting and expression of appreciation for that person’s work and experience. A specific example of this appreciation might be “I was inspired by your deeply personal photographic essays published in The Photographer Quarterly last year.”
  2. A line about who you are, and the direction you are hoping to head in. For example “I recently gained a Diploma of Photo Imaging at TAFE, and I’d love to work towards one day having my own work published in a magazine like The Photographer Quarterly.”
  3. A very specific query that you might think they can help you with. “Do you have any tips or advice for having work commissioned in a magazine? Are there places I could show my work that might get me noticed by editors?”

The potential mentor can then ask you if they need more context for your query. They also might provide you contact information for someone better able to answer your query. In our example above, the photographer might then give you the email address for the editor of the magazine.

The critical thing is to keep your query concise and clear, making it much easier to give you help, fast.

Some other examples of good, specific requests:

  • “I’ve just landed my first consulting role but I’m finding myself terrified at every client meeting! How did you keep your confidence boosted when you started out?”
  • “I’ve started my lawn-mowing business but I’m having trouble finding new clients. How did you get the word out about your company?”
  • “I’ve just graduated in Multimedia Design but I just have no idea where to look for my first job. How did you get started in your career?”

Remember, the person you are contacting, whether via email or in person, is not obligated to assist you. Some people will regularly receive similar queries and simply don’t have the time to respond. Your best bet is to seek out someone who is only a little ahead of you in their career, as they are more likely to have time to respond to your query. And always be polite and respectful no matter what response you receive – treating others professionally is good sense no matter what industry you work in!