What Happens After Graduation? How To Get Your First Grad Role

You’re finally a graduate. You’ve completed your studies and, as someone’s bound to tell you, the world’s your oyster. Yet oysters can be tricky to get into, even if you’ve done your research and come to the table prepared.

Finding your first graduate role can be similarly challenging. Whether you have a highly specific career path in mind, or you’re simply overwhelmed by the options available, it’s not unusual to feel a little lost at this stage.

Fortunately, once you find your feet, the prospect of searching for your first ‘proper job’ will quickly become a lot less intimidating. Ultimately, you need to play to your strengths, be proactive in your search, and be prepared to acknowledge and challenge your weaknesses.

Have Confidence In Yourself

As a graduate, your degree will form a huge part of your CV, so it’s important to highlight the key elements of your studies that will showcase your skills in the eyes of recruiters, particularly those that may not be immediately apparent. 

For example, a mathematics degree may demonstrate your ability to handle complex problems with abstract reasoning, while pharmacology might imply attention to detail and a methodical approach.

Most importantly, however, in both your CV and covering letter – and at interview – you should focus on the things that make you uniquely suitable for the role in question, so don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. 

You probably have a limited work history, likely in completed unrelated areas to your studies, but if you can write a few lines that show development in each role, i.e. “I learnt how to X, Y and Z, and took on extra responsibility for 1, 2, 3”, you’ll be setting yourself apart from the competition.

Honesty about your ability and achievements is not boastful or pretentious. Rather, it demonstrates that you’re capable, forthright, and confident in your strengths; all attractive attributes as far as employers are concerned.

Be Aware of Local Opportunities

With so many online resources to peruse, it can be easy to overlook opportunities that are right under your nose. From personal experience of talking to thousands of grads, I’d say 90% of them never once visited their university careers office… why?! 

Trained professionals are sat twiddling their thumbs, waiting for someone to knock on the door, so they’ll be super keen to impart their wisdom and point you in the right direction. Make the most of them while you still can.

You could also consider checking out your local careers office, as there may be something suitable on your doorstep.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to toggle-on the “open to new opportunities” option on your LinkedIn account. You can find this under the privacy tab of your account settings. This makes it easier for recruiters to find you, and ascertain that you are in the market for a new role. 

Meanwhile, you should also refine your LinkedIn profile to show off your skills, achievements, and aspirations, so you are more likely to be contacted by recruiters with the right sort of opportunities for you.

And while we’re on the topic of options that are right in front of you, why not check out the international graduate scheme offered by Opus Talent Solutions? The two-year intensive training program provides opportunities in London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, New York, and Sydney.

Use Your Initiative

Critically, you should not expect a graduate role to simply fall into your lap. No matter how talented you are, employers also want to know that you are passionate, driven, and independent. Show your initiative by actively pursuing internships, seeking out your ideal opportunities, and directly approaching organisations even if they’re not currently advertising for graduates.

Your ideal role may not exist at the time you go looking for it. However, this does not mean you can’t create it. By taking control of your search, and being open to a range of options, you give yourself a far greater chance of getting your foot in the door, so don’t turn your nose up at opportunities that aren’t strictly grad roles.

Then you can begin to accrue industry experience, build trust with your employer, and crucially begin to carve out a niche within the organisation. Over time, this may enable you to develop your role into one that is more in line with your ambitions, or use it as a stepping stone to the next stage of your career.

The fundamental thing to remember is to tailor your communications to each individual company, showing you’ve done your homework, have a clear understanding of their business, and are serious about making a good impression.

Foster Connections

Not every application can be a success, and sometimes this will simply be because the company you contact isn’t recruiting at that time. However, every attempt is a learning experience, and a chance to add to your professional network on LinkedIn.

For example, if you’re turned down due to a lack of available opportunities, or your role is only temporary, encourage these connections to get in touch if something suitable comes up in the future. Similarly, you might ask them to recommend you should they hear of someone else looking for a graduate with your skillset.

Even if you never make use of these contacts, having them increases your options and improves your potential for finding your dream role.

Be Open To New Career Paths

Remember, this is just the first stage of your career, so don’t lose hope if the perfect role doesn’t immediately materialise. In the meantime, everything you do will increase your experience, enabling you to develop new skills and expand your portfolio. 

So consider all of the options, including temporary positions and roles outside your chosen field, and don’t be afraid to give something new and different a shot. A varied background demonstrates your versatility, and willingness to adapt, which will stand you in good stead with potential employers. Plus, you may even discover a new calling along the way.

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