Surviving the Graduate Job Market
Finding a job after uni can be tough. Guest reporter Hsin-Yi investigates ways to make the job hunt easier.
In light of the Global Economic Crisis, we are all concerned about what the future will hold. As for young people, they are anxious about their job prospects. The 2011 World Youth Report (new window), released by the United Nations, captured the voices of young people from around the world, hearing their concerns about job markets and unemployment.
Australian graduates are also feeling the effects of a tougher and more competitive job market. Although times are hard, you can still survive and adapt to the environment with effective planning and strategies.
The job market might look bleak and you might need to wait a while before getting your dream job, but that doesn't mean you should stop looking for work. Con Moraitis, a Careers Consultant in Student Services at RMIT University, has some handy tips on how to stay on top of the game in these tough times.
Con says that graduates encounter the following problems when job hunting:
- Not enough work experience
- Lack of networks - some jobs are not advertised and they prefer to hire someone within their organisation or someone they already know
- Insufficient preparation - students have done little or no research in their industries
- Not enough practise writing cover letters and resumes
- Not enough time spent developing strategic methods for performing well in job interviews
Are Postgraduate Studies an Option?
Postgraduate studies are becoming a trendy alternative for graduates who can’t get work in their chosen industry. Con acknowledges that it’s a good option, but graduates need to make the most of their postgraduate studies. He recommends that students need a good reason to pursue postgraduate studies. They need to plan carefully and to pick relevant courses that complement or add to their qualification, not just do something for the sake of doing it.
"I find that a lot of students who enrol in postgraduate courses realise that it doesn’t suit them or it’s not the area they want to work in," Con says. He goes on to say that a person with a postgraduate degree "could be seen as overqualified". He strongly advises that when students want to take up extra studies, they need to make sure they do some work experience on the side because employers value practical experience.
"It’s not the quantity of the accreditations, it’s more about the quality of what you have and your capabilities, and then your academics and studies complement everything," Con concludes.
Be Flexible and Imaginative
Society is always changing, Con says, and so are job markets. It’s wise to look at what’s happening around you, to review your career plans, and to think about how you can use the changing environment to your advantage.
Con points out the example of online retail. Online retail is becoming very popular, so it makes sense you can adapt your marketing experience/skills/degree to the online arena in order to find new job opportunities. Or, since social media is part of our everyday lives, individuals who are writing blogs and using social media to promote their blogs can be recognised as experts in the social media fields.
Improve Your Resume Writing Skills
You may have the relevant experience and qualifications, but you may not be demonstrating it on your resume. Employers get their first impressions of you from your resume, so it has to be strategically written and well presented.
Con says that resumes are "all about the quality and the content, not the quantity". He says applicants often aren’t successful because their resume is "too generic". This means that they don't say anything about your skills and why you would be a valuable asset to the employer.
When writing your resume you need to do your homework. Research your employer and make sure you understand what the job involves. Then you can tailor your resume according to the job requirements.
Con's resume recommendations include:
- Highlighting your key skills and telling the employer how your skills and experience match the position requirements
- Demonstrating how you can you use your abilities to benefit your employer and the company
- Specifying the contributions you have made to the organisations you have worked for
- Listing any awards or official recognition you may have received (e.g., employee of the month, sales targets)
Con says your resume is like an advertisement. If it doesn’t "sell the message" then employers won’t consider your application.
Remember it's a competitive market, so make sure your resume shines! For more tips on resume writing, including sample resume and cover letter templates, check out our Resumes and Cover Letters pages.
Be Proactive and Open-minded
You can’t sit back and wait for things to happen – you have to seize opportunities. Con emphasises the importance of being proactive when looking for a job because it can give you experience and establish networks that can help you in the future.
Con recommends voluntary work or unpaid internships because they are opportunities to "exercise your craft and skill". His suggestion is to think of voluntary work as a training ground for your personal and professional development.
Con stresses that you should "keep an open mind" when looking for work. A job may or may not be directly related to your industry, but it may let you pick up experiences and improve your ability to adapt to various environments.
He stresses that you should never see things through a negative lens. Instead you should try to take every experience in a positive manner. Even if you have a negative experience, there are always lessons to be drawn from it.
Take Advantage of Your Careers Service
Finally, Con believes that it is "pivotal" to get in contact with your university careers service as early as possible.
Careers services can help with resume and cover letter writing and help you to develop your interviewing skills. Con points out that most universities have policies that let graduates use these services for up to two years after graduation.
Choose to Face the Challenge
Today’s graduates face a challenging job market. You may not have control over this, but you do have control over what you choose to do about it. There is a Chinese idiom that says, "Heaven never bars one’s way". Believe in yourself and you can achieve your aspirations.
For more about graduate job opportunities, check out our Graduate Recruitment Programs page. For more about job hunting, check out our How to Find a Job and Applying for Jobs sections. For more articles about work, check out our Articles Archive.
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