4 Ways to Get a Head Start in Your Graduate Career | Top Universities

4 Ways to Get a Head Start in Your Graduate Career

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Guest Writer

Updated Mar 09, 2021



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Guest post: Lauren Knowles

If you're heading into your final year of university and haven't given much thought to life after graduation, don't panic. You still have plenty of time to plan your future and get your graduate career off to a successful start.

Your first job should serve as a springboard for your professional future. It’s a good time to start exploring a new field, building a network and strengthening your skillset.

But, how do you go about landing the right job after university? The trick is to be proactive. Here are four ways to start your search for that first graduate job while in your final year of university, to help you get a good footing on your graduate career ladder from day one.

1.  Never miss a chance to network

Networking is one of the most valuable things you can do to increase your chances of getting a good first job after university. From fellow students and peers to professors and alumni, try to have conversations about what you are planning to do after you finish your degree with as many different people as you possibly can.

I understand that you may feel embarrassed and awkward about pitching yourself to people you talk to at university. However, I can assure you that most people will be eager to help students, as they are either in the same boat now or have been in the past.

Also attend any networking events set up by the university. My top tip would be to make an effort to stay in touch with any connections you do make. Send emails, make phone calls or connect on platforms such as LinkedIn with any promising people you meet. This will make sure you stay fresh in their minds, so that if a graduate job opportunity arises, they’ll think of you first.

2.  Join student organizations, societies and clubs

Becoming part of a society can improve your employability and help you on your way to landing a first job after university. By getting involved in an organization related to the industry you want to work in, you can not only develop transferable skills, but also gain industry-related knowledge and experience that will help you to stand out to potential employers.

The experience you gain when part of a student society can also help you to choose which area of an industry you wish to work in, as you can gain insight into the different graduate career paths available.

3.  Embark on a graduate training program

These training programs tend to be very competitive, but there are plenty of reasons why you should make every effort to try and secure a place on a good, suitable graduate scheme.

The training on-the-job offered by these schemes can help to boost your chances of landing a full-time graduate job within the organization where you carry out your training. It can also provide you with a very strong reference for when you do need to apply for new jobs. You also get the opportunity to network with like-minded, leading professionals in your industry, while having the ability to gain valuable experience and skills that you can take with you throughout your career.

4.  Make use of recruitment firms

Using a recruitment firm can be a good place to start when applying for first jobs. I would recommend contacting one who specializes in the recruitment of professionals for the specific industry that you want a career in, such as law, finance or IT. They will know what approach is best to take and should also have a wealth of industry contacts, which can help you get your CV seen by the right people and in the correct manner.

Many recruitment agencies will also help candidates compose their CVs. As a recruiter will know exactly what a client expects and wants, they can provide you with tips on how to craft your CV to highlight the most relevant skills, knowledge and experience for each graduate job you apply for.

I understand that the final year of university can be stressful and crammed with studying, assignments and exams. But by taking time to think about your future and taking action to kick-start your graduate career, you’ll be in a much stronger position for life after university.

Lauren Knowles is a digital content writer for Portfolio Payroll, a recruitment firm specializing in sourcing high-caliber candidates for payroll in human resources departments.