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That first year after graduating: how to stay motivated and bag that dream role

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

When it comes to the job hunt, graduates have it hard. Boasting bags of knowledge but little to no experience in their field, they must pitch their potential to prospective Employers in a bid to land the job of their dreams.

While university may build a foundation upon which to start a career, nothing can prepare a new graduate for the sudden drop from security to a seemingly endless job search.  Most often, the search will start with a positive attitude; an eagerness to explore the opportunities available and an optimistic outlook on the future.

Weeks into the hunt with no positive response, however, it’s hard to stay motivated. Meanwhile, pressure to secure a stable monthly income rises as bills and rent pile up. Even those who have moved back in with their parents post-university are in a race against time as the need to reclaim autonomy, freedom and personal space becomes unavoidable.

If this sounds familiar, don’t lose hope: the following tips should help you to keep your chin up and your head down in order to bag the job you want.

Always ask for feedback

When every day of your waking life is dominated by job boards and cover letters, it becomes harder to fake a smile when asked “how it’s all going”. Everywhere you look, it’s as if every ad for an entry level role demands four years’ experience; every time you get your hopes up for an application, you’re met with yet another “not on this occasion” email. But don’t dwell on it too much: fall into a negative spiral and it will be hard to pull yourself out.

Instead, make a point to ask every hiring manager, recruiter or business leader where your application went wrong and whether there was anything you could have done to improve your chances of securing the job. Of course, not every contact will take the time to reply. However, those who do will provide invaluable insight that can be particularly helpful in steering you in the right direction.

Focus on the positives

If you’re feeling low, make a point to remind yourself of your achievements, strengths and positive attributes: you have, after all, succeeded in getting your degree. To prevent yourself from post-graduation blues, write down a list of qualities you can offer your prospective Employers: you may not have practical experience, but you certainly have proven your ability to commit to one project, write extensively about one subject and potentially even present your findings to a group.

Beyond this, you will have unique qualities that your family and friends can remind you of if you’re ever feeling unsure or insecure. Remember to surround yourself with people who boost your confidence and avoid those who drag you down – they won’t help you land that dream job now or ever.

Escape your comfort zone

If you’ve been job searching for a while, self-doubt will naturally set hold after several disappointments. However, in this situation it’s a good idea to really shake things up. Have you ever thought of Temporary work? It could really broaden your horizons, develop your skills and introduce you to a job role you might be perfect for.

Channelling your energy into improving your employability in this way is an excellent use of your time, and will help to boost your confidence as you take steps to boost your CV.

If, for example, you’ve received feedback from an application that lists your IT skills as an area for improvement, seek out an online course you can complete. As well as increasing your chances of getting hired, activities like these will distract you from the stress of the job search itself.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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