5 Ways to use the trade press for a career headstart

The trade press offers some surprisingly simple ways to give your career a headstart that you may have never considered before.

Whether you’re looking for your first graduate position, making that all important second step in your career or you’re an undergraduate wisely planning ahead, the trade press could help you succeed in more ways than one.

Trade press usually takes the form of professional magazines or journals designed to appeal specifically to those who work within a certain trade, field or industry. Whether you’re studying to be an architect, a doctor, an engineer, a manager or a graphic designer, there will be a journal out there aimed at your profession. There are journals that are relevant to all kinds of different career paths, from media and marketing to finance and accounting.

Finding the right trade press to give your career that headstart

A simple online search for magazines relevant to your chosen profession will give you several to choose from. Some of these may well be online magazines, therefore saving you the cost of purchasing several paper journals. Some libraries will stock some of the more popular titles so you may not have to purchase a copy at all.

Take time to scan the options and find magazines that are both appealing and applicable to what you want to do. You can be sure that in these publications you will find job opportunities that are relevant to your career aims – whether they are first-time jobs or jobs that will enable you to further your career and fulfil your ambitions.

So here are 5 ways in which the trade press can help you succeed:

1. By searching in professional magazines and journals that are applicable to what you are currently doing or want to do in the future, you will save time because this is where the most relevant jobs will be. Instead of scanning through many, many advertised jobs in newspapers, job-search sites and social media, you will be going straight to the relevant information.

2. By reading the trade press, you will also broaden your knowledge of your field. Even if you don’t find a relevant job here or if the jobs that are advertised are too advanced for your current skill level, you will be gaining valuable information and insights into your field, industry or trade.

3. By being up to date with what’s going on in your industry, you will be able to shine in your job interviews. You will be able to make reference to current events and the latest developments. In other words, you will be putting yourself ahead of the competition. And to your potential future employers, you will appear enthusiastic, well informed and truly interested.

4. Of course, if you are looking for your first position, many of the jobs advertised in the trade press may be too advanced for you. But by reading these journals, you will be better able to plan your career and the direction in which you want to go. You will become aware of posts and opportunities you had never considered before. This will enable you to plan your career step by step – where you should begin, what you should do next, and where you ultimately want to be.

5. Finally, trade press is an excellent means of finding useful contacts and information. Through reading widely and broadening your horizons, you will come across people, organisations and companies that inspire you. You may find companies that motivate you – companies you’d love to work for and companies that give you a clue as to who you need to contact.

Getting a top job is tough and you need lots of stamina and self-belief in order to succeed. Regularly reading the trade press could place you at an advantage in several ways and may even spark off a whole new line of thought to help you reach your goals.

Why your non-academic experience is your most valuable asset

Got a degree? Great. But it’s your non-academic experience potential employers are after.

Penguin’s decision to scrap the requirement for a degree reminds us just how high non-academic experience ranks when looking for that first graduate job.

In scrapping this requirement, the publishing house joins PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst and Young, and Deloitte, who have each changed their recruitment policies over the past year so that those who apply no longer need a certain A-level grade or grade of degree.

Deloitte and Ernst and Young have even stopped recording certain information on their job application forms so that recruiters have no idea where candidates went to school or university.

This is quite a statement given that these companies are among the biggest single recruiters of graduates each year.

But why this trend in graduate recruitment? Because employers are beginning to realise that academic achievement, noble as it may be, measures only one type of intelligence.

A degree doesn’t demonstrate business awareness

A degree was once considered the gold standard in measurement for skill and talent but employers now realise that all it measures is the ability to think.

Of course, if you want to become a physicist or to follow a teaching or medical career then a degree is still a fine thing to do.

Other than that it doesn’t form the mainstay of the set of skills required to get a job. It cannot tell an employer very much about a person’s resilience, interpersonal skills or teamwork abilities. And it certainly cannot demonstrate practical business awareness.

The skills developed through academic life are so very different from those needed in work life.

As Penguin acknowledges, if it wants to survive into the future then it must make publishing more inclusive, it must make room for people from different backgrounds who can appeal to readers everywhere.

That means people with demonstrable cultural awareness, creativity and entrepreneurial skills.

What does this mean for you if you’re at university and/or about to graduate?

It means you need to evidence lots of skills other than academic achievement. This is what graduates ought to have been doing all along – and certainly must do now. You must work on your non-academic achievements.

The starting line has shifted. Graduate starting salaries have become very competitive rising to as high as £41k for some positions.

Last year there were a record number of paid internships on offer, over 13,000. For many graduates, the recruitment ladder is difficult to step on.

In fact, the most recent Highfliers research reported a repeated warning from previous years – that graduates who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during a recruiter’s selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer from a graduate programme.

Many employers now offer work experience to graduates in their first year at university.

How to strengthen your non-academic experience

adults volunteering to gain non-academic experience

If you want to strengthen your non-academic experience, you need to start doing work experience from day one.

Employers want to know about the skills and attributes gained from non-academic pursuits.

Here are some examples of non-academic achievements:

  • Internships
  • Travelling
  • Volunteer work
  • Extra-curricular activities – such as being the president or part of the committee of a society on campus
  • Hobbies and interests – such as playing a musical instrument or playing being a part of a sports team
  • Starting your own business

I once heard a recruiter explaining how she screens candidates. She doesn’t look at where they went to school or university but where they went on holiday.

It is important that you include your extracurricular activities in your job applications.

Now, what this all means is that your graduate CV must look very different. It must reflect your out-of-uni, non-academic achievements first, those that show what you’ve been doing aside from studying.

You must now begin to place equal, if not greater emphasis on building a rounded set of skills and abilities as early as possible. It’s about exposing yourself to those opportunities that will truly develop and enhance what you have to offer.

Furthermore, you need to be prepared to talk about your examples of non-academic achievements and be able to elaborate on the transferable skills you have gained from them in job interviews as you may be asked to: “tell me about your extracurricular activities and interests”.

Here at Graduate Coach, we have reviewed hundreds of CVs from students and recent graduates.

A lot of people who have come to us for help often believe that they do not have any examples of non-academic experience or achievements.

However, once we provide some 1-2-1 coaching we usually discover how they can draw out transferable skills from their extra-curricular activities and non-academic achievements that are related to the jobs they are applying for.

If you need some help with the following, contact us on: +44 (0)207 014 9547 or via email on: gethelp@graduatecoach.co.uk

  • writing an achievements-based CV
  • Applying for graduate jobs
  • Training for interviews

Related Resources

  1. Read this blog post on how to use your work experience to help you to get the job you really want.
  2. Watch this video on how to differentiate yourself from other candidates to hear directly from a graduate recruiter why it is so important to have non-academic experience.

Book a FREE 15-minute career coaching call with Chris Davies, the founder of Graduate Coach, who has 8+ years of experience helping hundreds of students and graduates to get the job of their dreams!