Once you’re done with exams and taking a much-needed break, you might be wondering – what now? Graduating can be exciting, but it can also bring up stress and uncertainty about the future.
That’s especially true right now, with a competitive job market for entry level roles, and the cost-of-living crisis to contend with.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to get your foot in the door. Taking a few key steps now can help you make your way into the workforce. Career Coach at Career Wellness, Teresa Brandau-Stranks has some great insights and tips to get you started.
- Get to know what’s happening in the job market
One of the first steps for entering the job market after graduating is doing your research. Brandau-Stranks says it’s important to get a sense of what’s happening before jumping straight in.
“Start by researching the market, roles and industries you’re interested in,” she says. “To further your research, make connections with hiring managers and people in the know. They’ll be able to steer you in the right directions and impart useful knowledge.”
Doing this research can help you set realistic expectations about what’s out there and where you’ll be able to start in your career, Brandau-Stranks explains.
“We all need to start somewhere” she says. Be humble, gracious and open-minded to learn and listen to others who are more experienced.”
So, what does research involve, exactly? Try looking at the kinds of roles that are available in an industry you’re interested in, and what those roles involve. SEEK’s Explore careers section can show you how many opportunities are available, the average salary, job growth, key skills required and more.
- Set career goals
Setting career goals early on can set you up for success in the future. Even if you don’t have big career plans now, start with some short-term goals.
Write up a list of things you want to achieve in the coming year – it could be getting an entry-level role, taking on a short-term internship or even having a career chat with someone working in a field you’re interested in. Then, break down each goal into detailed tasks to work through what's required to achieve them.
As well as setting short and long-term goals, Brandau-Stranks advises to stay flexible.
“It’s important to stay open to change and things potentially deviating from your original plan,” she says.
- Consider an internship
Internships can be a great source for networking and continuing to grow your skills in a real-world setting. Brandau-Stranks says that although internships can be quite competitive, they’re still worth looking into.
“Some sectors and times of year are more competitive than others when it comes to internships,” she says.
“In saying that, I know of large corporations that employ well-performing graduates from schools and have regular internship rounds.”
- Find volunteering opportunities
Volunteering is another great way to add experience to your resumé while giving back to the community at the same time. It can also help you learn new skills and meet new people.
Brandau-Stranks says there are two key things to look out for when finding volunteering opportunities.
“Look for organisations that both interest you and align with your future career goals, to help you gain invaluable experience for the job market.”
Perfect your online job profile
Job seeking isn't as simple as firing off a few applications. Having a well-rounded online profile can help you show your abilities, interests and qualifications to potential employers. It can also boost your chances of being approached for an opportunity – and who doesn’t want that?
“Create a great SEEK Profile that really highlights your top skills,” Brandau-Stranks recommends. “Because you’re just starting out in the industry, it’s likely you won’t have skills from previous work experiences that you can draw on just yet. Instead, you can speak to ‘transferable’ skills – that is, skills you’ve obtained through study and also casual work if relevant.”
- Start networking
Meeting new people can open doors for you and even lead you to a job unexpectedly. Brandau-Stranks believes that the power of networking shouldn't be underestimated.
“Networking is so important,” she says. “There are many great opportunities out there – including new graduate and industry events – you just need to look and be proactive.
As you meet people, you can ask someone to mentor you in your industry of interest and organise catch-ups to keep gaining knowledge and insights for your job-seeking journey.”
- Find ways to upskill
Although you’ve just graduated from studying, there may be some small gaps in your resumé or skillset that you can round out through upskilling. Brandau-Stranks says that if you’re not having luck looking for work, don’t be afraid to keep learning.
“Consider doing more professional development or study to gain more skills if needed,” she says.
With so many possibilities in front of you, it can be a little overwhelming to think about entering the workforce. But taking a few of these steps now can help you explore your options and find your way towards a rewarding and exciting career.