As many graduates have discovered, having a degree is no guarantee that you will land your ideal job, or get a place on one of the dwindling number of graduate training schemes. In fact in the current economic climate many graduates are underemployed ie they have had to take a job for which no degree is required. This can be heartbreaking if you’ve spent 3 or 4 years studying and investing in your future. However, the world of work has undergone huge changes and there is now a new world of work. It’s important you manage your expectations and fully understand what actions you need to take to ensure your long-term career success.
In days gone past graduates joined organisations offering their loyalty and skill and in return received a secure and stable job. This type of psychological contract between employers and employees rarely exists anymore. The world of work has changed substantially and there are no longer ‘jobs for life’ as there was in the past.
In addition the current economic situation means that organisations are often stream lining or looking to make efficiencies which may mean recruiting people on short term contracts, functioning with less management, employing people on a part-time rather than full time basis. So if you join an organisation, don’t make assumptions that it is for life, because you could well be disappointed.
When many students graduate they vow never to take another course again and who can blame them! After years of continuous learning , school and then university many have had enough. However, this is another area of work that if you want to stay ahead of your peers and ensure that you remain marketable, that means continuing your professional development, keeping specialist skills up to date and learning new skills.
Professional development will always require you to invest some of your time, but it doesn’t always require you to invest money. Keep up with any free conferences or exhibitions in your sector, make sure you keep up to date with what’s happening in your sector or industry and see what opportunities there are for free courses on line.
Be an all round graduate
According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, in their report Skills for Graduates in the 21st Century it’s very important that to survive in today’s global employment market that you are an all round graduate, who has a wide range of skills. These include good self-reliance skills which enable you to not only manage your career and personal development, but also be politically aware and have the ability to action plan effectively, be confident and self-aware.
You will also need to have both specialist and generalist skills. The specialist skills mean having specific areas of expertise eg family law, chemical engineering, criminal psychology etc. The generalist skills which you should have include overall business skills and knowledge eg basic accounting and finance, problem solving skills and good written communication skills.
The report also identified the importance of gradates having good team working skills. Not only should you be able to negotiate effectively but you must also have management skills, be able to network and have good presentation skills. These are known as connected skills.
Feeling apprehensive. You shouldn’t. Although it would be wonderful if you graduate with high level skills in all these areas, in many cases that’s not realistic. The important thing is to be aware of the skills you need to develop for your long term career success. Be self-aware and recognise where you have gaps in your skills and action plan what you need to do to fill them. You need to manage your career make yourself employable as possible in an uncertain employment market.