Next steps after graduating
If you're graduating soon or have just graduated, you might be thinking "What next?"
26 June 2012: If you don't already have long-term career plans it can be hard to figure out what you should do once you’ve left university. There are a number of options which new graduates can consider, including looking for graduate jobs, going on to postgraduate study, such as a Masters degree, or simply taking time out on a gap year.
So if you're still thinking “what next?” we have pulled together a few suggestions which could help you plan for your future.
Finding a graduate job
As a first step it’s a good idea to register with the National Careers Service. This Service provides information, advice and guidance to help you make informed decisions on learning, training and work opportunities. You’ll benefit from advice on how to explore which careers would suit you best, how to write effective applications and how to improve your interview skills. You can also get help and advice on job hunting by visiting Jobcentre Plus.
Make yourself more employable
Most graduate recruiters expect you to have at least some work experience. If the experience you have isn't specifically relevant to the job you are applying for, it will probably have helped you to develop some of the 'transferable skills' employers look for, such as communication, teamwork and organisational skills. Remember to highlight these when drafting an application or being interviewed. Look at job advertisements for areas in which you are interested and see what kind and what level of experience is required. This will help you to identify what skills you may need to develop and where you may need more experience.
Volunteering after you graduate can be a great way to develop valuable skills and experience and will also enhance your CV. Demonstrating these skills to potential employers can give you a competitive edge when it comes building your career. There are thousands of volunteering opportunities available, so you’ll definitely find something that interests you.
CV Top Tips
Today’s graduate market is very competitive, so quickly getting to grips with application forms, covering letters and CVs is very important. Many applicants fail to make it to interview because of avoidable mistakes and careless presentation of their CVs and application forms. Taking time and following some simple advice can really make all the difference.
All CVs should contain standard content which normally includes:
Personal details – name, address, date of birth, telephone and e-mail address
Education and qualifications
- Employment history (Work experience, full or part-time, paid and voluntary)
- Interest and activities
A CV should normally be no longer than two sides of A4 and you may want to adapt it slightly for different potential jobs. Asking a friend or family member to proof read your CV will help to eliminate any spelling mistakes or missing information.
Researching what the employer is looking for or what the job advert mentions about the job requirements will also help to build and shape your CV to reflect what you have to offer and why you want to work there.
Using social network sites such as LinkedIn can be a great way to research companies, network with a wide range of people and find potential jobs.
Over 150 million professionals use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities. It allows you to stay in touch with your contacts and informed about your chosen industry, and also helps to find people and knowledge which you may need. Employers also use social media sites to advertise jobs - why not join Nationwide on LinkedIn.
If you're not sure where to start looking for a job don’t forget your local recruitment agencies, as well as looking at the numerous job search websites on the internet.
If you’re considering further study, start thinking about your options as early as possible – ideally, at least 18 months before you’d be looking to start your postgraduate course. In some areas of work, it could be essential to have a postgraduate qualification such as a Masters, whereas for others having more work experience could prove more valuable. Be prepared to discuss why you chose postgraduate study and what you have gained from it during interviews. This could set you apart from other candidates in terms of your suitability for a particular job.
Taking time out
Whether you go abroad or stay in the UK, a gap year can be a good opportunity to broaden your horizons. It can also be another way of developing skills and experience to enhance your employability, plus is an opportunity to meet and network with new people.
Starting a Business
Another option graduates have, is to start up a business. Lots of companies were created in a recession including MTV and Wikipedia, and according to Direct.gov.uk many universities offer support to students and graduates who want to start their own business.
Another source of help and advice is the FlyingStart service, run by the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship. This Service offers online resources, such as access to a database of grants and funding as well as opportunities to find out about free one day events to help get you started.