Graduate Jobs: How to Get One After University

Graduated a while ago but still haven’t got a job in your field yet? Well, you’re not alone. Research is showing that Australians are not only taking longer to finish their degrees but are also struggling to get a job afterwards. Graduate jobs have proven to be difficult and you’re often competing with huge numbers of other recent graduates to get them. Some industries have big needs and immediately scoop up university leavers. For instance, 98% of people graduating with a medical degree quickly get a job. Other fields aren’t so lucky. In fact, research shows that 14% of graduates are still unemployed 4 months after they finish studying. 

If you’ve recently finished studying and haven’t had any luck finding a graduate job, your approach might just need a refresh.

Check Your Employability

When looking for a job after graduation it's a good idea to take stock of your skills and experience

Although you have a degree that is hot off the press, you can still fly under an employer’s radar. Despite what’s on the package, not all degrees give you exactly what employers are looking for. Therefore, if you want to break out of a slump and nail one of those elusive graduate jobs, you might need to make a few changes. The first step in looking for one is making sure that what you are showing to employers is the best version of yourself possible.

Is Your CV Resume-zing?

It’s possible that the reason you haven’t been successful is because your resume simply isn’t making hiring managers bite. To get through Applicant Tracking Systems and robots you need to make sure you have keywords. To get through to hiring managers you need to have some pop. Make sure you’re not making common mistakes and that you sell your skills and abilities. Don’t forget the importance of soft skills! Especially if this would be your first job in the industry and/or your previous jobs aren’t closely related to the one you’re applying for.

You are probably more skilled than you think. Your classes would have helped to hone self-development, communication skills, presentation skills, resilience and awareness. These are all highly valued by employers today so make sure you highlight them on your resume.

Close the Gap

Sometimes what you learn in the classroom isn’t the same that’s being used in the real world. With the pace of business now days, it can be hard for educators to keep up. This creates a Skills Gap. One that exists between what you know and what employers expect you to know.

What this means for you is that you might need to up-skill. Find out what techniques, skills, or programmes are being used in your industry and see if there is a way to get those skills. A lot of employers are turned off the idea of having to up-skill people. When you have little or no experience, you have to think outside the box to impress employers.

If you can show them that you already have the skills they want, you’ll be miles ahead of the pack.

Get An Experience Boost

“Sorry, we are looking for someone with more experience.”

“Okay, but how do I get experience without a job…”

This terrible cycle is all too common, especially for first time job seekers. One way to break the experience ceiling is to volunteer. Volunteering can help you develop the professional skills and experience that employers are looking for. It can also help put you in contact with a network of people from different backgrounds that may be able to help your job search. At the very least, the fact that you volunteer can put you in good stead with employers with similar values.

Similarly, internships can be a great way to work on real world projects and develop experience and connections. While not every internship leads to a paid job opportunity, the experience will definitely help with future applications. Be aware of your rights as a worker however and know the duties of the employer providing the internship.

Keep Moving Towards Your Goals

Take some time to see where you want your career to go after graduation

One of the things that can be most frustrating when searching for a job is the feeling that time is slipping by you. This is especially true when looking for graduate jobs. You’ve just spent all this time studying to get a real job and you’re stuck. The important thing to do at this point is to not simply tread water and wait for someone to toss you a ring. You need to be active and think about your situation. Do a stocktake of your position, look for stepping stones, and widen the search. 

By actively thinking about your position you will put yourself in a better position to look for graduate jobs. You might even get lucky and something will come along while you’re doing this. Whatever happens, you’ll be prepared.

Use Stepping Stones

Although it might not feel like it, each job offers a stepping stone to bigger and better things down the line. Whether it’s room for advancement, opportunities to learn new skills, or simply making connections that might come in handy in years to come. Instead of treating your current entry-level job as an easy way to earn some money until you get your full-time job, make it work for you. See if there’s anything else you can take from your job.

  • Ask to shadow someone who works in a different capacity to you
  • Try and learn some new skills that might be needed in your future career
  • Request a position with more responsibility. Management skills will always be needed and are always respected

Do a Stocktake

It can be hard to watch your friends and other graduates rush off to jobs straight after studying. While it can feel frustrating not moving into a new job, take the time to see where you are in your life. What do you want to do? Where do you want to live and work? Do you want to travel? It’s good to have an idea about these questions. Just because you got a degree in accounting doesn’t mean you need to work for an accountancy firm. 

With job hopping on the rise and the growing awareness around job clusters, having one job for the rest of your life has gone the way of the Dodo. Instead of rushing straight from the classroom to the office, think about what you want and what you need to do to get it.

Widen Your Search

Don’t be afraid to look a little wider than your immediate industry. A lot of industries require similar skills and it’s definitely possible to find a suitable position in an area that you hadn’t previously considered. Break a job down to it’s core skills (job ads are a good place for that) and see how closely you align. You may realise that you already possess all the skills or only need to skill up in one area to get a job in a new industry. Not to mention that by looking wider you automatically increase the chances of finding the right job for you.

Remember, every application is an opportunity to practice and nail your resume and interview.

Grow Your Network

Networking can be extremely useful but it also can feel extremely frustrating. With so many jobs never being officially advertised and instead offered through word of mouth, it can be disheartening to know you are missing out on opportunities. The best way to beat the system is to play the system

Tell people your plans, ask them questions, see if they know anybody in the field. It can sometimes be worth sending your resume in to a company even if they haven’t posted anything. The important thing with a cold open however is to fully research the company. You have to really know them and why you’d want to work for them. In this case, one or two highly targeted applications will go a lot further than twenty basic ones.

Change How You Think About Graduate Jobs

Working for an SME or for yourself is a growing option after graduatingWorking for an SME or for yourself is a growing option after graduating

Big companies have some excellent graduate programmes. These are designed to help young workers get experience working in an industry and start them on their career path. Because they get a foot in the door at some of the world’s largest and most successful multi-nationals they are incredibly popular. They are also extremely competitive.

Not all graduate jobs are the same. Sometimes you can save yourself a lot of stress and hassle by skipping the grad schemes and…

Work for an SME

Not everyone suits working for a huge company. Sometimes the feeling of being a little fish in a gigantic pond can be overwhelming. 

That’s why working for an SME (small to medium enterprise) can often be a great option for recent graduates. Because of their size, you will have more opportunities to work across many roles. As opposed to specialising in one aspect of your job, you will work in many and might even learn skills outside your degree’s area. This can be extremely useful when job hunting later in your career.

Be aware however. SMEs don’t have the same budgets as the large companies to advertise when they are taking in graduates. You have to be a bit savvy to work out what advertised roles would suit you. Or you could ask them.

Be Your Own Boss

If you are tired of waiting around for an employer to get back to you, you might want to consider being your own boss. While this option might not suit everyone, if you have the right combination of skills, knowledge, drive, and passion to be an entrepreneur take it! Running your own business is tough but it would be a great experience and definitely be a major selling point if you ever decide to return to the job market down the line.

Who knows, you might even disrupt the industry and be able to offer your own graduate jobs to the next generation.

Go Back to School

Going back to study can be a good move after graduation to get some extra skills

After studying for so many years, the thought of returning to the books for more study might fill you with dread. Going back to study doesn’t have to involve another multi-year degree however. There are plenty of options that can help you pivot your career or give it a kickstart.

Take Your Learning to New Heights

With the pace of technology and globalisation, many industries are changing faster than ever. You might have already realised that some of the things you learnt in your initial degree are no longer as relevant as you thought. 

You could do some further intensive study and gain a master’s or a doctorate. That takes a lot of time and dedication however. Instead, you could study a smaller course or subjects that give you a better idea about a topic or area. If you do an accredited course you can even put it in your CV to show employers that you take self-improvement seriously.

Learn New Skills to Make Yourself More Attractive (to Employers)

Learning new information about your industry is always a good idea. Learning about growing and trending industries might be an even better one. If you can learn skills such as coding or graphic design, you might make yourself stand out from the crowd. With more and more businesses relying on technology, having an employee with a solid understanding of computer skills is becoming a smart move.

Something to think about. A lot of people don’t end up getting jobs that closely related to their degree. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a new industry you can still bring across the skills and knowledge from your degree. Getting bonus skills in areas like computing can help to make that transition even easier.

Make a Career Switch

Sometimes you get out of your degree and you realise that you don’t want to work in engineering or you realise that your english literature degree (whilst extremely interesting) hasn’t had employers frothing at the mouth. The more you look at graduate jobs, the more you imagine yourself working in another industry.

You need to make a career switch. When I say career switch however, I don’t mean burning the bridge between you and your degree. The best switch is to something that utilises what you already know. Combining the skills and knowledge of your twin backgrounds can make you an irresistible candidate. 

Stay Positive

It's important to relax and spend some time doing what you want after graduation

This is one of the most underrated aspects of job hunting. Depression can easily creep in when looking for a job, especially when you hear nothing back from employers. One thing to remember however is how you’ve come in your job search. Throughout your course you undoubtedly experienced setbacks and stressful periods. You overcame them and graduated. That’s amazing. You’ll overcome this period too and get the job you want.

Enjoy Yourself

A crucial part of staying positive is taking some time to enjoy your free time. Yes, you’ll want to get into the workforce and start building your career but remember this a period where you will have the most free time until you retire. If you want to travel or start a new hobby – start now while you are waiting to hear back on your graduate job applications. It will help keep you active, healthy, and pass the time until you can start your career. There are actually lots of ways you can develop skills away from work.

Tell Us

Struggling to find graduate jobs? What did you do to break the slump and get a job? Tell us in the comments below…

Leave a Comment