As most final year students are getting ready to wave goodbye to university, having finished final exams and submitted dissertations, thoughts turn to the next step.
Should they shun responsibility for another year and go travelling? Or is it best to knuckle down and take that first step on the career ladder?
Con Lam from recruitment firm, Brightwater Northern Ireland, says that although it may seem like a daunting time, there are now many options available to today’s graduates.
He explained: “Whilst there’s no denying the advantages of seizing the day and being among the first to apply for the top graduate schemes, there are also many positives to taking a more considered approach, especially if you’re unsure of the direction you want your career to take.”
So, what’s the best move if you’ve just donned your gown and mortar board? Con, has the following advice…
Get to know your industry
It’s essential to do your research in your chosen industry or sector. Find out what job opportunities exist and who’s employing. Seek out young professional bodies and speak to people working in the roles you’re interested in. Read up on industry magazines, blogs and newsletters and use tools such as LinkedIn and networking events to begin developing your own bank of industry contacts.
Look out for the small guys
Don’t just focus on the biggest organisations or assume they offer the best opportunities. There are some fantastic graduate schemes available in large corporates, but the SME market in Northern Ireland is not to be sniffed at. According to research from Ulster University and the Federation of Small Business, SMEs here account for 75% of employment. In a smaller organisation you will also have a better chance to experience multiple aspects of the business, as departments are rarely clear cut and you are likely to have the opportunity to get involved in a very wide range of roles.
Consider your digital CV
It’s been said a thousand times but cannot be stressed enough – think about what your social media accounts are saying about you to potential employers. That double beer bong profile photo might fill you with pride and fond memories, but it doesn’t exactly scream ‘consummate professional’ if an interviewer were to do a quick google.
It’s easy to get despondent if you’re not making progress in your job hunt, especially if your peers are updating their LinkedIn profiles with recently secured roles. However, persistence is key, and the right opportunity is out there. Don’t just spend your time blindly emailing your CV to anyone with an HR job title. Stay focused and look for alternative career routes and register with a recruitment firm – but be sure to stay in touch regularly to show you’re committed and keen.