What steps should you be taking when you are just about to leave University?
In the final months of university, alongside the stress of final exams, handing in coursework or dissertations and leaving the life you’ve known for 3 years or more, attention turns to what to do next.
If you’re on the verge of leaving university the temptation can be to take off for the summer and put off thinking about careers, but generally, the sooner you take steps to get on the job ladder the better. If you’ve already narrowed down what field you want to work in the next step will be job applications and potentially lots of them.
When applying, ensure that you keep a detailed record of what and who you are applying to, so that when the company does call back, you know exactly what you applied for.
If you’re sending your CV out speculatively it’s worth taking the time to add a personalised letter to the relevant person in a target company rather than just hopefully addressing it for the attention of the MD or HR manager. State why you think your experience to date and skills you can offer would be relevant to that company. If it’s done well, it can be right place – right time and be effective. Think about what gives you an edge over the competition and highlight this.
That same detailed approach can also help take the fear factor out of an interview. Find out who will be interviewing, the format of the interview and have a test run. Get your parents to put you through a mock interview situation, you will feel silly but they will be honest about how you come across and the practice will really help. Be self aware and prepare like crazy, it will take a lot of the fear out of the interview which will enable you to answer the questions without stuttering and get your personality across. Don’t just wing it!
If you haven’t got much work experience get in touch with people who are currently working in your chosen field and try to arrange an informal meeting. The purpose of these is not to angle for a job but to obtain information on exactly what the job entails and also to build your contacts list in that industry.
Networking – as horrible a word as it is – can be massively important in hearing about a job before it’s advertised. Your connections, both social and professional are invaluable resources during a job hunt. Even friends of friends who you have met out and about are worth touching base with during a job hunt.
It’s also not too late to arrange work experience placements. Even if you haven’t done any of these while an undergraduate, many companies will be happy to take recent graduates on work experience. This allows them to take a look at you without having to pay you.
By having temporary experience while you are looking for permanent work, looks great on your CV and offers you varied experience, letting you hone some basic, transferable skills as well as sometimes opening more doors.
It’s worth considering whether you may have to look at alternative positions to the area of your study, and seeing whether you can transfer your skills into another role.
Right now you may not know what it is exactly you want to do with your life, but transferable skills will serve you well no matter what path you decide to pursue.