There was a lot of talk in the Summer about a rise in graduate employment and signs of recovery for the UK job market, however unreliable figures could be painting an overly optimistic picture for many students who want to land the right graduate job after they graduate.
With a record number of university applications for 2014 and figures that suggest 1 in 4 graduates quit their first position within a year, students in the UK still face a highly competitive and often disappointing job market once they finish their studies.
Which means you can’t afford to wait until graduation to start thinking about employment and students need to start planning their university exit strategies now, in order to find the right job when they leave.
- Create a list of companies
With 25 per cent of graduates quitting their first job within a year, and 35 per cent failing to find a job in their preferred field, there is an obvious problem with students landing the wrong type of job after they graduate. This is understandable, considering how tough the job market is right now and how desperate many students are to find work – but this doesn’t have to be you.
With the right planning you can get your job hunt started long before you graduate. Start by creating a list of companies you would like to work for and these will be the focus of your uni exit strategy. Get an edge on the competition early and you stand a fighting chance of not only staying out of the unemployed graduate demographic, but finding a job worth all that hard study.
- Build an online name for yourself
The internet is an incredibly powerful networking tool – so use it. Start a blog and publish articles about your field of study, with an emphasis on the areas that you want to move into professionally. You can use this blog to grow your contact list and even become an authority in your field over time.
Share your articles on social media and follow the leading experts in your target industry as well as key people at the companies you want to work for. Many of these people will have their own blogs or publications they write for, as well as events they speak at.
Approach each contact with an article that has something new to say and offer it as a free guest blog or resource for their own publications. This is a common trick used by content marketers to grow their contact list and even if your article doesn’t get used it gives you a genuine reason to reach out to influential figures and a chance to impress.
- Go to industry events
There is an offline world of contacts for you to go out there and meet as well, so get involved in events related to your studies. You will find conferences, lectures, exhibitions and all kinds of events linked to your future career across the country, and these can be networking goldmines.
Research each event before you go, and get to know everything you can about important guests and specific themes that will be covered. Brush up on your knowledge in key areas and equip yourself with everything you need to mingle with the right people and make an impression.
It also helps to print some business cards before you attend any event. You don’t need anything flash, just a professional card with your name, contact details, university and area of study.
- Turn spare time into experience
The main disadvantage graduates have when it comes to landing a decent job is a lack of experience. You have already shown you have the initiative to make things happen by planning and networking your uni exit strategy, now all you need is proof that you can apply your skills in the workplace.
You have roughly three years to build up enough part-time work, summer jobs and internships to impress your contacts and future employers. Use this time to prove you were born to work in a company like theirs and you will leave university with a killer CV and an exit strategy designed to land the perfect job for you.