I found this session really useful and I understand very well what my CV needs and how it can be interesting.  - Undergraduate attending Sian's seminar

Next steps after exams: managing your job search effectively

6th July 2013

Congratulations, the long exam season has finally closed and you either have your results now or are waiting till August to learn the details for your next options. Many students I work with, regardless of their age, often want to leave job search till this point in order to concentrate on their studies. 

 So what next for you and how best to manage your time? 

 You'll be at one of the following points:

looking for the first step on your chosen career path, have no idea about how you want your career to develop, seeking temporary work for survival before continuing your studies, finding an industry linked placement or internship, looking for voluntary work to boost your CV, or a combination of part time work for any of the above reasons.

Your first task is to decide which of those categories represents what you need. This will immediately sort the wood from the trees for you and help you to prioritise. Perhaps the most common mistake that my coachees have made before they come to me is to apply for everything that they can find, no matter how unsuitable. Keep calm and don't panic, is your mantra here. What do you need from your job search for either temporary and/or permanent work.? Start with the practicalities; where are you living now, is it within reach of the jobs you need or can you afford to move somewhere else? The overwhelming proportion of students I work with find that their parental home is usually the cheapest place to live, but will that enable you to reach the work that is right for you now?

 A survey  published earlier this year by graduate recruiters showed that employers are now putting strong students without work experience at the very bottom of their selection lists. Whatever your job search objectives, then you must find yourself some relevant work experience. Relevant means work in any context or industry, whether paid or unpaid or true volunteering for charities that will enable you to learn skills useful for your future career plans. If you still don't know what you want to do in the long term, then try to find work that will boost your general competencies (ones that every employer looks for, such as communication skills, ability to learn new skills, teamwork, attention to detail, working under your own initiative, and so on) There is more help on how to benchmark your skills in Chapter 3 of  'Nail That Job, the complete guide for the less experienced job seeker' You may well need to find a combination of part time paid and unpaid work in order to boost your future employability. 

Do not turn up your nose at low paid or lower skill jobs if that is all that is available within your commuting range. All work counts to demonstrate to future employers that you can take the initiative to find work in a tough climate. The skills benchmarking section mentioned above will also help you to make the most of work that does not seem to offer much challenge. 

if you are clear about your future target role, then a key part of your search plan is to network and also research smaller companies. Since the recession took hold, small organisations in every sector have been quietly recruiting graduates and offering some fantastic opportunities to learn every part of a business. They can often offer greater responsibilities and more options for creating your own projects than many of the large scale graduate recruiters and can be found all round the country. They have no marketing budgets however, so you have to dig to find out if any are recruiting locally. Those small companies I speak to who have recruited straight from university/college are praising their graduates highly.

Networking means making sure that absolutely everyone you come into contact with knows that you are looking for work. The key to managing these conversations effectively is to be clear and very concise about what you are looking for and what you have to offer. I have a fantastic exercise for doing just this in Chapter 1 of 'Nail That Job' that has proved successful for many jobseekers: you cannot possibly describe accurately what you are looking for to anyone else unless you can describe it for yourself first.

Focus on your job search objectives in this order: What roles are you looking for? Why? How will it add to your CV? Where is this work/who offers it? How will you find it? Who can help you? 

 I think that is enough questions to get you started. If you have any more questions about how to develop your thinking so that you don't waste time job searching, then simply email me on and we can arrange to have a no-obligation chat about how I could help you find the job that you want and you need.


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