If you’re coming to the end of your degree and you haven’t secured a “graduate” job yet, then it can be a scary time. Maybe you should have applied for jobs after all? Just why did all those applications come to nothing? What should you do now, go home and wait for the perfect job offer, or go and get just any job? It’s a difficult decision.
Get any old job?
Well there are pros to this approach.
- You’ll earn money. That might be an imperative, or highly desirable if it stops your parents moaning!
- You’ll get out of the house and are less likely to go stir crazy with boredom and loneliness.
- You’ll develop a range of employability skills. It’s pretty hard to find a job which doesn’t help you build them. Customer service, resilience, multi-tasking, teamwork, time management, communication and/or entrepreneurial skills, they’ll all be on offer, even in some of the most mundane jobs. It’ll be for you to work out how to sell the experience effectively to your dream employer when the time comes. But you will have something “to sell”.
- In a few situations you might not have much choice. If your degree didn’t go to plan, you may need to take a more circuitous route to securing the graduate level job of which you are capable. A careful choice of employer and a bit of patience can get you right back on track.
And the cons?
Yes there are some of these too!
- It’s easy to get stuck. Working for a while in a humdrum job is fine, it shows you have a work ethic and that you’ll turn your hand to anything. Employers like that. Staying for several years is a different matter, you’ll start to look as if you lack drive and initiative. You may come across as satisfied with your lot.
- It may mean you don’t have time to make the all-important applications for the job you do want. Making job applications is a time consuming process and you need to be on good form to write the compelling application form. If you’ve been working long hours in an exhausting job, then it’ll be hard to motivate yourself to get on with applications in your down time and even harder to make them really good!
- It’s easy to lose your confidence. So, you see your friends in their grad jobs, earning their nice salaries and able to afford a few luxuries. You start to reflect on the jobs you weren’t offered, or on the opportunities you didn’t take and it can eat away at your self-esteem. It’d be easy for me to say “Don’t let it!” but things don’t work like that. You need to be sufficiently self-aware as to think about your confidence levels and if you feel them slipping away you might need to get some help. If you’re a Warwick student the careers team will still be around to help you and that might be a starting point.
Hold out for right job then?
Well there are pros and cons of this approach too.
The cons first:
- You won’t be demonstrating a work ethic. It’ll be fine if your “gap” is just a few months. What if it stretches to 6 months or even a year? It’ll start to look as if you’re not so keen on working and that will worry employers.
- If you get an interview your answers to competency questions are going to come across as quite dated if you spend too long at home.
And the pros?
You’ll have the time and the space to make good decisions. If you think there are some gaps in your skills set you might be able to plug them. There are lots of great on-line courses available. Perhaps you can learn (or improve your knowledge of) other languages? Maybe you can find some volunteering that helps you to develop in one or two critical areas. You can make sure you’re putting together your own programme of self-improvement. You may well be able to demonstrate that you have made great use of your time.
So is there an answer?
Not really. It’s going to depend on your personal circumstances, your results, your aspirations and on who you are. The introvert might benefit from playing the long game at home, that’s unlikely to work for the confident extrovert who’ll want to be out and about with others. Why not talk to careers about it? I work all summer!