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Advice for Graduating Students

Matthew Williams

Upon earning your degree it’s not uncommon to feel a little unsure about your next move. With the world at your feet, the sheer amount of options available to you after graduation can be a little overwhelming. Whether it’s further study, training, some time out, or diving straight into forging a career, graduates have a lot of important questions to ask themselves as they move into the next phase of their lives.

To help identify the best way forward, then, we’ve put together some advice for graduates and considerations that should give some food for thought.

Postgraduate study vs entering the job market

With the first couple of years after graduation often setting the tone for the decades that follow, it’s important to nail down exactly what you want. While this is easier said than done, the two main options come down to taking a Masters degree in your vocational subject or jumping into the world of work and beginning your career.

Postgraduate study is not for everyone but for some fields can give your career a jump start ahead of other graduates. Masters degrees, for example, are held in high regard by employees and statistically leads to higher skilled jobs, meaning higher salaries and better opportunities.

This comes at a cost, however. Quite literally in fact. Postgraduate study costs anything from £4000 to £20,000 a year, with international students paying considerably more. It also means spending a couple of extra years studying while your peers may already be advancing their careers. While having a Masters or under your belt could prove beneficial, it is not guaranteed.

If you feel a Masters would aid your career in the long term, it is worth exploring if there are ways to integrate the two, looking for relevant roles that will fund or support your study.

Perfect your CV

For those that are ready to get started on their career directly, it’s time to update your CV and explore the different roles on offer.

Crafting the perfect CV is something of an art form with some people making a healthy living from tweaking the resumes of professionals. Doing it yourself, however, is entirely possible and requires taking time to create your CV template and then customizing it for each role you are applying for.

Most recruiters will be scanning through dozens, if not hundreds of CVs, so it’s important to get to the point. While there are some great guides on creating the perfect CV, it’s important to start with a brief and punchy summarization of your key skills and accomplishments that should entice the recruiter to keep reading.

Finding a job

With your CV perfected, it’s time to look at what roles are available to you. The go-to job hunting websites are a good first port of call where you can filter results by industry and sector, salary, education or experience needed, and location.

As job sites are convenient, they attract fierce competition making it difficult to stand out amongst the crowd. It can be useful, then, to leverage your friends and contacts to discover opportunities or companies looking to hire. Estimates suggest as much as 60% of job vacancies are unadvertised, with this hidden job market largely relying on recommendations.

Intrepid graduates can give themselves a distinct edge over the competition by reaching out directly to companies or contacting recruiters through LinkedIn.

While you may have a clear idea of what sector or field of work you want to go into, it’s worth exploring other options too. Post-pandemic, certain sectors are thriving and are eagerly hiring graduates to help fulfil demand. These include hospitality, healthcare, IT, communication, as well as catering.

Taking time out

Taking time out after graduating can be either a benefit or a disadvantage to your career. After spending years studying hard, taking some time to travel, for example, can help you establish a sense of independence and broaden your horizons. For those unsure of their next step after university, spending this time wisely can help you figure out what you really want to pursue, and even pick up a few transferable skills along the way. With your career lying ahead and few opportunities to take gap years, there may also never be a better time.

The risk is that you lose momentum. Taking time out can sometimes be a distraction and in the case of travelling, prove less rewarding than highlight reels and social media would have you believe. It can also become extremely costly. Not just in terms of flights and accommodation, but in terms of lost wages and opportunities that you may miss.

Attend a careers fair

Before making any decision about your future, it’s always wise to visit a careers fair. These can prove extremely useful resources where you can speak face to face with employers, recruiters, and those involved in industries you may have never considered looking into.

You can meet a variety of representatives from a host of different sectors, giving you direct access to the people you need to know to get to where you want to be. Having made a good impression with employers you can then follow up by sending them your CV with a short message reminding them of your conversation. This will give your CV and chances at landing the role a boost as the recruiter has already spoken with you.

To find a careers fair near you, visit The UK Careers Fair website now to give your career a headstart.

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