You’ve probably realised by now that finding a decent graduate job is not always an easy task. Graduates are competing not only with local job applicants, but those from abroad too, and sometimes have to opt for jobs that don’t even require a degree. Being super talented and having studied at a reputable university are no longer differentiating factors for employers. Standing out from the pack nowadays means being strategic about career planning, marketing yourself and putting your best side forward—something that only you, and you alone, can do.
The world of work is changing, and job applicants need to demonstrate that they’re proactive when it comes to career planning
You might be thinking why it’s you who must take charge of your career planning. Unless you’re Justin Bieber, chances are you won’t be able to afford a manager and personal publicist (yet). It’s therefore up to you to design and sell your personal brand to future employers. Attitudes to work have changed drastically since the days when people joined a company after school and stayed with them until retirement. Ambition, personal development, individuation and creative thinking have become desirable qualities in employees, and employers want to see evidence of these even before a candidate walks in for an interview. Here are some things to avoid if you’re dead set on demonstrating commitment to your career:
Expect to be spoon-fed when it comes to developing new skills
Your career isn’t just a way of earning money and engaging in interesting work—it’s an endless opportunity to learn more about yourself and develop new skills too. Whatever path you choose, and whichever job you do (no matter how remedial), or your personal growth and development plans, you’ll be presented with challenges that will force you to adapt. Use these situations as opportunities to grow and acquire new skills, rather than letting them knock your confidence. Unfortunately, you can’t expect your employers to tell you exactly what skills and strengths you can develop during these challenges! But by cultivating self-awareness, you’ll be able to figure this out on your own, or with someone from your network that you trust.
Leave your career choices to chance or last minute impulse
If you’ve made it this far in the blog, you understand the importance of career planning and doing it as early as possible. The process of creating a career plan involves careful introspection and evaluation of your strengths, weaknesses and interests—plus lots of research and networking to help you map out how you’re going to achieve those career dreams. Making impulsive career choices based on what your friends are doing or what your family wants you to do is a risky strategy, as is sending out hundreds of CVs to as many organisations as possible with little thought about why you want to work there. Your career plan needs to be detailed and updated frequently as you gain more awareness of your interests and work experience.
Try to take on too much alone
Even though you’re the only one who can shape your career path, that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to others for help along the way. Doing so isn’t a sign of weakness, and doesn’t mean that you’re not putting in enough effort towards your career planning. Remember: opportunities flow through people, and creating a professional network of people within your chosen industry is a vital part of putting a career plan in place. Finding mentors you can trust and seek advice from is another incredibly important part of forging your career.
Neglect personal development once you’ve found a job
The hard work you’re putting into personal development in order to find a job is admirable—but it can’t stop once you’ve found one. Every job you accept is a stepping stone that prepares you for the next stage of your career: see each one as a chance to hone your skills and acquire new ones. It might not feel like it at the time, but the hard part isn’t getting through the interview, but finding new ways to add value to your position and organisation. Many organisations will offer professional development courses, but if yours doesn’t, take the initiative and seek external courses yourself.
Part of setting a promising career plan into motion is knowing exactly what skills employers are looking for in an ideal candidate. The right career planning course will guide you through what today’s organisations seek in employees, and help you develop the right skills to succeed. If you’d like to learn more about the skills you need to get your career dreams started, download our guide: