18 June 2013

Just graduated? Here's my story and some tips to help you find a job.

It's coming round to that time of year again when thousands of graduates will be flashing their student card for the last time, packing up their student flat and getting all set to start their 'grown up job'. When I graduated two years ago I thought this would be as easy as sitting down at a computer, firing off a couple of CV's and waiting for the acceptance letters to pour in...because I got a 1st so that means everyone will want to hire me? Sorry, but I learned through experience that that's definitely not the case!

Here's how it went for me...

A couple of days before my actual graduation ceremony I started an unpaid 3 month internship at the Scottish Youth Theatre working on their new website. Obviously  the downside was that it was unpaid, but it was great experience and there wasn't anything else on the horizon (having had a couple of rejection letters from other full-time jobs) so I grabbed at the chance to work at such a well known organisation. 

After that finished in September, I spent a couple of weeks searching and applying for jobs - pretty much anything in Scotland with 'design' or 'marketing' in the title. I didn't have enough experience (most were looking for about 2-4 years) so this meant that I either received rejection letters or no reply at all. This meant I had to do the inevitable and sign onto Job seekers - Excuse my language, but I have to say this was pretty shit. I'm not going to go on about this (because I could write a book) and maybe not all advisors / centres are the same but they really didn't have a clue about helping someone look for a job actually relevant to their degree, that they've spent 4 years studying for - and were pretty keen on making you apply for any job you could feasibly do.

I landed my next job through no help from the Job Centre, my Papa actually spotted an advert in the local paper for the 'South Lanarkshire council Graduate programme' advertising various roles and that's how I ended up on a 9 month Graduate placement as 'Marketing and Media' graduate at Routes to Work South. Once again, not a full time position (but thankfully paid this time) which again was fantastic experience and without it I could no way be in my current role at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games working on social media within the Digital Team. 

What I'm pretty much saying is, don't be disheartened if you can't get a brilliantly paid, full time job right away...you might need to do a few shorter (possibly unpaid) roles to get the experience and build your skills to help you land a better job in the future.  

Some tips...

Get your CV up to scratch
Probably the most obvious but to most potential employers you're a piece of paper, so you need to do your best to present yourself, your skills & experience on 2 sides of an A4! Also work on your covering letter skills and make sure you actually tailor it to each role you apply for. Good advice here.

Populate your Linkedin profile 
Any potential employer is undoubtedly going to look you up online - so make sure they like what they see! Keep your Linkedin profile up to date with all your relevant information, actually fill in all the available fields and build a network by connecting with students/friends/lecturers...

Set up Indeed.co.uk email alerts
One of the most useful tools I found when searching for a job was automatic email alerts from Indeed.co.uk. You can input job keywords & locations to receive an email listing new relevant job vacancies, every morning if you like! Go to: Register > My indeed > alerts. (They also have an app now)

Check out Creative Scotland Opportunities
If you're in the creative industry then check out the Opportunities section of Creative Scotland which lists loads of types of opportunities from jobs to workshops. I found my internship at the Scottish Youth Theatre there!

Check out TalentScotland graduate placements
Their graduate placements are from 3-12 months and give you a chance to work with an established business or social enterprise - great experience! See what's currently on offer.

Get some experience
If you need to build up your portfolio, or real-life experience then check out sites like Gumtree where people will advertise jobs they need doing. This could be anything from designing a logo to building a fence. It might not be well paid, or it might be voluntary but if you've got nothing else to do it will help to make you more attractive to an employer! 

Get some business cards
You never know who you might bump into on the street so you should get some Business / contact cards made up. They don't need to be anything majorly fancy - just your relevant contact details and links to your Linkedin, blog, website...

Start a blog 
A good idea to keep your creative juices flowing while you're looking for a job is to start a blog or other type of place online where you can collate your thoughts/showcase your talents. It doesn't matter what industry you're in. If you're in finance you could write a blog about your views on current financial matters. If you're a designer then create Pinterest boards showing off your style. If you're musically inclined get a MySpace page up! (I hear that's cool again?) 

Get Networking
Meet some like-minded people though:
Networking groups - Glasgow Young Professionals, JCI - Junior Commerce International 
Networking events - New Media Breakfast ,  Communications Breakfast ,  Be Good Be Social

Stay positive! 
Everyone loves a good Brie, but trying not to be too cheesy  - the saying 'whats fir ye wont go buy ye' really does come into play here and just because you've been turned down 100 times, had no replies or can't see any suitable jobs RIGHT NOW doesn't mean ones not going to pop up next time you hit F5. 

What was your graduate experience like (or currently like)? Comment below!

Thanks for reading! Melissa.

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