In March 2021, the Financial Times reported that “almost one in eight recent graduates was unemployed in the third quarter of 2020”. The Office for National Statistics finds that this is around 12 percent of recent graduates, almost double the average rate for this group over the past three years. Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic is the reason for the current rate of unemployment amongst recent graduates.
Although the vaccine has presented a viable path to normality, the World Health Organisation has made clear that the rulings and restrictions implemented in society may take several years to retract. This is because the vaccine alone is not enough to bid adieu to our bitter foe COVID-19.
According to the Graduate Mental Wellbeing Report, a collaborative effort by King’s College London and The City Mental Health Alliance, key findings from over 300 recent graduates show that the majority of graduates do not feel prepared for the transition out of university. A more critical concern is finding a job.
To help recent and future graduates, we at Furity have crafted the ultimate guide for graduates. The guide will equip graduates with the advice needed to build the confidence and assurance needed to feel stable and supported in their search for a job.
- Be Positive and Persevere
According to St George’s University, the ‘new normal’, with its many uncertainties, has affected many of us. In particular, those who have lost loved ones, had their income affected, or who have been struggling to find graduate roles. Whilst it is certainly difficult to stay optimistic during these testing times, we must find it within ourselves to not allow the fear of not finding a job to consume us. This may make it more difficult to find a job and is harmful to our mental health.
St George’s University recommends shifting our mindset. Instead of being fearful, we should stay hopeful. To do this, we must think positively and openly, so that we target the right opportunities and channel our energy on the applications which are worthy of our time and effort. Instead of settling or applying to anything, carefully choose your applications so that you can produce an application that is of high quality. Employers are always recruiting, and you will find something, so continue to persevere.
- Update your CV
CABA, a charity that supports the wellbeing of the chartered accountant community, claims that often it is easy to forget what you have accomplished or achieved. They recommend documenting all your achievements so that you can pick achievements that suit your applications.
The more frequently you update your CV, the less work you’ll need to do when you do need to use it. CABA recommend updating your CV regularly with the following information: key projects that you have led or worked on and the impact that they had on the business, process improvements where you have decreased costs or increased efficiencies, ongoing qualifications with the name of the course and when you completed it and lastly, new skills that you have developed.
- Build and engage with your network
Online recruiter, Monster International, claims that professional networking does not mean walking into a room (remote or not) full of strangers and trying to charm them. It also does not mean targeting the most senior professionals and following their every word or action. Instead, Monster International, believes that professional networking is about consciously creating a group of mutually supportive individuals.
Key traits of a good professional networker are someone who “actively listens, joins in and aims to create long-term relationships with contacts”, they are not there to boast about themselves or exploit their relations. There are plenty of platforms to build these kinds of networks like LinkedIn or Atleto.
Regularly engaging with members of your network will allow you to build valuable, strong relationships. This may help you become more noticeable to graduate recruiters and employers.
- Develop your skillset
TARGET Jobs claim that graduate employers “place a lot of emphasis on finding candidates with the right skills and competencies for their organisations.” These skills can sometimes be very specific and may require certain abilities and knowledge. Some general competencies and behaviours are also essential for successful working, these are often known as transferable skills. These skills draw on examples from your work experience as evidence.
According to TARGET Jobs, top skills graduate recruiters are looking for include commercial awareness, communication, teamwork, negotiation, problem-solving, leadership, organisation, motivation, ability to work under pressure and confidence.
An excellent way to develop some of these skills is using platforms such as Skillshare, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning or Knoma.
- Active and proactive job searching
Instead of feeling miserable and slouching at your computer because of your ‘failure’ to secure a job, Talent Lyft advocates for active job searching. “Active job searching occurs when someone is currently seeking a job and is putting time and effort into finding one.” Active job searching does not mean you did not put any effort in at all, instead, it encourages people to not just passively click on job advertisements that occasionally pop up. It is about actively putting an effort into the pursuit of a job, at all stages.
Once you grasp and embrace the concept of active job searching, you can upgrade your active job search to a proactive job search. Proactive job searching means that in addition to sending your CV to organisations that have job openings, you contact a company, even when there may not be an opening, and introduce yourself and inquire about future openings or other opportunities.
- Gain some experience
According to a recent survey by UCAS, “two-thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness.” Interestingly, “one-third of employers also felt that applicants did not have a satisfactory level of knowledge about their chosen career or job.”
To tackle this, UCAS advises graduates to gain experience so that they can develop a better understanding of their job sector. The insight which you gain can not only advance your skillset, but it can also provide you with invaluable insight.
UCAS recommends researching and contacting companies yourself for opportunities or you could also use your usual online job searching platforms.
- Do your research
TARGET Jobs believes that often “the temptation to skimp on employer research can be strong, particularly if you’re up against the clock with application, degree or decision deadlines. However, if you want to give yourself the edge, appear informed and make the best choices, find some time to fit it in.”
The reason research is so important, especially before interviews is because graduate recruiters recognise your effort to research, and further your understanding of their organisation. They appreciate this and are therefore more willing to see you as a successful candidate.
- Tailor your applications
According to Reed, “tailoring your CV is essential if you want to stand out to recruiters”. This is because it shows you making an active effort to show interest in their job, it also allows you to highlight the skills and experience which are most relevant to the role, increasing your suitability.
To tailor your CV, Reed recommends using the job description, prioritising your skills and matching your skills to the job specification.
- Practise makes perfect (well, near perfect)
Balance Careers advocates practising for interviews, especially if they are remote. This is because practice “will help reduce stress during your actual interview, and will allow you to focus on connecting with your interviewer rather than struggling to come up with answers”.
The better prepared you are for the types of interview questions you’ll be asked, the better prepared you will be to interview.
- Patience is a virtue
The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed working culture and alongside this, organisations have had to adjust too. Things like working arrangements, technology, and hiring processes may take longer than usual.
So be patient and don’t panic! Also, don’t be afraid to follow up to show you’re seriousness about the opportunity.
Written by: Zahira Rafiq
Edited by: Zahira Rafiq
Artwork by: Lydia Hill