Graduate unemployment: what they don’t tell you at uni

Dec 17, 2014

Going to university is a great experience, writes graduate Racquelle Deku. You meet new people, you gain invaluable experience, you tackle obstacles you could never have imagined and you mature tremendously.

The graduation ceremony is one to remember. When your name is called and you walk across the stage to your family and loved ones calling your name, you feel overwhelmed at the pit of your stomach.

You hear the vice-chancellor say, “Class of… today marks the start of your future. Congratulations!” You feel reassured you have made the right decision as you throw up your graduation hat to symbolise the end of your university experience.

People say your graduation day is one of the most important days of your life. What people tend not to emphasise is the daunting reality of graduate unemployment.

Graduate unemployment doesn’t discriminate

There is a preconceived notion that unemployment only affects the working class and only occurs to individuals in deprived areas. Well, here’s a surprise, it doesn’t! Studies show that approximately a fifth of university leavers are unemployed or in low-paid jobs six months after leaving university.

You may think the fact that you have undertaken and tackled numerous challenges at university will guarantee you a graduate job. Right? But then your inbox is overflowing with lots of rejection messages. You see words like, ‘unfortunately’ and ‘unsuccessful’ every time you open up your email. It makes you feel like you’re not suitable for any organisation.

Then you are surrounded by friends and family who are constantly asking or suggesting one of the following:

  1. Have you found a job yet?
  2. How’s the job search going?
  3. Have you tried recruiters?
  4. Don’t worry you will find something
  5. I’ll ask around for you

Okay, it is inevitable, and they just want to reassure you that you’ll find the right job. However, what they fail to understand is how competitive it is and how patronising they can sound.

The job application process

And let me introduce you to the famous application process! This is what I describe as the 6 common issues of unemployment:

  1. Pressure to apply for as many jobs as possible and not knowing exactly what to apply for. After applying you’re constantly checking your phone and emails to see the status of your application.
  1. Telephone interviews that have caught you unaware; you find yourself stuttering and forgetting important information.
  1. Your inbox filled with rejection messages and negative feedback leading you to depression. You then become overly sensitive and have senseless arguments with everyone around you.
  1. Recruiters selling you false hope and wasting your time, while you struggle with not having enough money to go to the interviews.
  1. Seeing everyone around you getting jobs and you’re just dying to update your LinkedIn profile with a new job title.
  1. Then you get nervous when the start of a new day, week or new month approaches and you’re still stuck in the same position.

Some of you may be able to relate and some of you may just think this is just an exaggeration. But these are the harsh realities that many graduates face in the unemployment epidemic.

If you find yourself being unemployed after uni check out this post.

What to do while looking for a graduate job

Ultimately you’re faced with one of two options: either giving up or being persistent. My advice if you are in that position is to remember not to lose hope. Make sure you keep yourself preoccupied and reflective in the process.

  1. Self-awareness – Spend some time getting to know yourself better. Whether it means going for walks alone or learning something new. It’s also important to make a list of things you like, don’t like and what you won’t gain from life or a job position.
  2. Fitness – For example go to the gym or go for jogs; it helps you deal with your frustration and keeps you mentally and physically fit.
  3. Recruitment – Sign up to as many relevant recruiters as you can. It’s important to get yourself out there and you never know where it might lead you. But make sure you do your research on the recruiters to check their reliability.
  4. Progress – Keep a general journal of your weekly progress. It’s a good way to see how far you’ve come, and you never know when your story could help or inspire someone.
  5. Word of mouth – Ask family and friends how they got their jobs because you could pick up one or two tips.
  6. Reflect – Be reflective and self-critical so you know what to improve on.
  7. Determination – Last but not least, don’t give up! Stop comparing yourself to others. You have achieved too much to just give up.

Good luck with your job hunt. For help and coaching, talk to Graduate Coach.

The Seven Secrets of Success

Land your graduate job

Download your free copy of our guide that reveals the seven secrets of success when it comes to landing a graduate job.

  • Learn seven things you can implement today to enhance your job search strategy.
  • Gain a deeper understanding of the graduate job market.
  • Find out how you can find your dream job with guidance from a graduate coach.

Please see our Jobs page for graduate jobs.

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