How To Cope When Struggling To Find A Job After University

July 16, 2021

Finding a job after University can be so difficult. Perks of being recent grads eh? Unless you are working in high demand industry, it can take the best part of a year to find a job that suits your educational achievements. Above all else, don’t become disheartened by the process – because so many others are in the same boat. Here are the best ways to find graduate schemes role for you when struggling to find a job after university.

Know what you want

This seems like a silly point to consider, but the route you want to take is so important when finding a career path. For example, I graduated in Marketing Management in 2020 and when looking for roles I had to decide which route to take. I had to consider working in PR, Social Media Management, Consumer Research, Market Research, Digital Marketing, Marketing Analyst, Advertising – even HR can link to all of this at the graduate level.

The easier part in all of this is knowing what you do not want to do. If you are not mathematic, I would not suggest analytics. Play to your strengths, especially in a competitive market.

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Figure out Logistics

By logistics, I mean the filters you have to insert when searching for a job. That way, you will only view potential options. Factors could include:

  • Location
  • Wage
  • Hours
  • Shift Patterns

These factors have to be personal to you, and detail what terms you are willing to meet and the potential compromises you may have to make. Knowing your own terms is the best way of negotiating at the interview stage and knowing your criteria clearly before it becomes an issue.

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Knowing What Recruiters Want

This will come from practice, as some recruiters will give feedback if they decline your offer. Read forums and job sites, and see what they look for. Sometimes the little extras may become the deciding factor in whether you get the job. Even if the requirements do not include a cover letter, consider adding one. Let the recruiter know who you are, and what you are looking for. Sell yourself like an asset, and if you can add something to better the deal, do it.

Know What Tools Recruiters Use

There are so many ways to start job hunting – it is ridiculous. Gone are the days of simply looking in the papers, but the internet will be the most popular place to look. Here are some of the key recruitment sites:

Using a range of sites helps to find a wider range of jobs. Many of these sites allow you to find out more about the companies behind these applications, and whether they offer fair salaries and interview processes. Do your research and consider whether these companies are worth applying for, for example, check if staff turnover is so high it is disheartening. Also, upload your CV to all of these sites when creating an account. Many have onsite recruiters that will do the job searching for you, and call you if they find anything relevant. Not only will it give you one foot in the door, but it will help to make the job searching process 10x easier.

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Know your Industry

It sounds silly I know. By knowing your industry, I mean knowing it from a recruitment perspective. Who are the key companies that do what you want to do, and where are they based? Try to get some careers advice from a specialist to fill your knowledge. Do they meet your logistics criteria, or are they not worth bothering with? Read trade centric magazines and understand what the industry is like at the minute, the routes and directions it is heading, and where do you think you can fit in. This is the best way to forming a niche that works for you.

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trade magazines

Fill Your Knowledge Gaps

Are there gaps in your knowledge? If there is, I would suggest learning a little. If you do this as soon as you graduate, not only is it out of the way, but you will still be in the learning mindset. Top Tip: look at other graduate courses, and see the sort of topics they learned. Are they comparable to yours? Most likely the only people you will be competing with are other students, so know them inside out. What universities are around you, what are the potential courses that could have been taken and what did they learn. If you need to fill the gaps, it will increase your industry knowledge – but it is also something you can add to your CV.

Related: 11+ Things To Do Before University: Studying Away From Home

Writing A CV

A key method to nailing that graduate role is getting a CV that is employer-friendly. Instead of tailoring a CV based on what your school or university recommends, alter it for the employer’s sake. Use power words and anecdotes to show your personality and strengths, and use the “hobbies and interests” section to inform and humanise your CV. Grades are not always the main component of a CV, so try not to focus too much on this. Use any experience you may have to fill the gaps, and leave a quarter of a page for education – try not to go into too much detail.

Cover Letters

As I mentioned earlier, cover letters are a great way to stand out in front of employers. Even if they are not required for an application, cover letters are an easy way to showcase yourself. If you are struggling to find a job after university, I would always start with a cover letter. Look at the recruitment sites and see what they recommend. A cover letter does not have to be a long piece of work, just a simple synopsis of who you are, what your experience is to date, and the sort of role you are looking for.

The best thing is that there are so many templates online to choose from. Many of the jobs you apply for can be applicable to the same cover letter – although a top tip is to alter it slightly for every application. Have a look at the job requirements, and change the “power words” accordingly to fit better within the application. Not only would it show that you have read the job brief, but it also demonstrates that you believe you have the relevant skills on offer.

Related: How I Picked The Right University

Do Not Apply For Everything

A key reason why you may be struggling to find a job after university is that you are applying for too much. Every man and his dog will tell you how difficult the market is right now, and that you should take whatever is available – but that causes some problems. Without a tailored CV and cover letter for every application, it may simply be forgotten when put alongside hundreds of other graduates.

A simple way to attack the job market is really by rooting through the good and the bad to find the ones for you. Like the discount clothing on major sites. If you know you could work it, so to speak, then give it a try. If you know deep down that 1. you would not be happy in the job 2. It is not relevant one bit or 3. you would never be able to do the job, then it is surely not for you – move on! Take your time with every application and make sure it is right and of high quality before submitting it.

job motivation

Consider Applying For Jobs You Are Over Qualified For

It sounds like a foolish thing to do, but there are many jobs that do not require a Degree. Many prefer work experience above all else. The experience you have of learning the subject for years is admirable, especially to employers who basically know that you can pick things up and learn from them. The skill of studying is a great trait and one that employers appreciate. After my degree, I actually applied for a non-graduate Marketing Assistant role (on a six months contract). Not only did I get the job (for being overqualified), but I have been offered a permanent role that is a graduate job.

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Applying for jobs that you are overqualified for may make it easier to get into the industry, but also increases the likelihood to move up the ranks quicker than without a degree. Yes, the wages may be lower, to begin with, but knowing you will be able to do the job fairly easily helps with the financial burden.

Add To Your CV

While I have been working, I have been speaking a lot more with HR directors, and they all say the same thing. “A CV will look very similar from person to person but I always value what else they have done”. Your achievements always count. With more and more people graduating every year from university, quite frankly, there is more of the same. If you are struggling to find a job at university, have a look at your CV. Is it full of extracurricular activities, or it is full of academic grades?

If you can show that you have done more than study, that will always be favourable. Employers in interviews may ask what you do in your spare time – and without an answer, usually, red flags appear. Make sure your life is more than studying because it will be favourable in employment!

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Know When To Start Looking

Looking for a job can be tough if your heart is not in it. Some people want money as soon as they leave uni, others want a super long break. You need to find what is right for you. Searching for a job, and getting declined can be so disheartening, so only start looking when you are mentally prepared. Whatever you do also, do not get disheartened by unemployment rates, there will be something out there for you!

If you want some time off, make sure to do it as soon as you graduate – employers will always ask about gaps in your CV – and if the break comes at an odd time you may be facing 20 questions. Sometimes a mental health break and a refresh are all you need.

What I have found though, is that graduates have the best time nailing the job process either in their last couple of months of uni or straight after the final exams are done. As most students like to take a break straightway, companies find themselves with students not available for 3 months. If you can, I would recommend getting into the market straight away, so you are ahead of the curve of students taking a break. You do not have to spend hours a day, maybe 1-2 hours is enough – depending on your success.

Concluding Thoughts

And there we have it! If you take the process step by step, getting a graduate scheme that is also a dream job will happen! Never rush the process, or try to fall into any job that comes your way – instead, find out what you really want to do, and go for it! You may get setbacks and stopping blocks, but if you find out what the employers want from a candidate and try to meet that, you will struggle to go wrong! Hopefully, this will help you to cope when struggling to find a job after university!

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