Yes! I‘ve Graduated! But…What Next?
Graduating from university or leaving school is a huge achievement. If you are a 2023 graduate or 2023 school leaver, there’s also a chance that the start of your university studies was interrupted by the pandemic and you had to hugely adapt to all sorts of disruptions!
Once graduating or leaving school, whilst there’s inevitably an initial sigh of relief, your thoughts can quickly turn to –“what next”? For some people, they know the career they want to embark on, and the appropriate course of action they need to take, really early on in their young adult life. For others (myself included!), it’s hard to set your mind on one path.
For me, this even extended to my choice of degrees at university. I definitely chose subjects I was just purely interested in and less so the career I wanted to have. I came out of university in August 2021 with an undergraduate degree, a Masters and 2 gap years under my belt feeling a little lost on what to do.
This uncertainty, combined with societal pressures to secure something (social media, I’m looking at you!) can leave many of us feeling panicked. However, what seems like a huge task, can be broken down into some practical, smaller steps.
Refine your CV and LinkedIn profile
First things first, building up a solid CV and LinkedIn profile is going to be helpful. Set aside some time to give it some focus. Breaking a CV down into clear, succinct sections is good. See below for some sections you can include:
- Personal Statement
- Key Skills
- Employment History
- Voluntary Experience (if applicable)
- Education and Qualifications
- Extra-Curricular Activities/Achievements (if applicable)
This is a great way of reflecting on your experiences and skill set and it can be reassuring to know you have your CV up to date and ready to go if someone asks for it.
LinkedIn is also a helpful tool where you can not only keep an eye on job openings, but also expand your network and get your profile seen. Take some time building your LinkedIn profile with similar content you would put on your CV. Upload a polished profile picture with a punchy headline i.e. ‘Marketing graduate with a passion for brand strategy’ or ‘Aspiring PA with a strong background in administration”. Place an ‘Open to Work’ banner on your profile picture and start connecting with people and engaging with content from sectors you’re interested in.
Identifying your strengths
If you are still feeling overwhelmed by the volume of sectors/different roles out there, honing in on your transferable skill set can help you streamline. Referring back to my colleague Samantha’s article in 2020 – some example of these include:
University Society roles involving organising events and trips
Revision and essay schedules and plans
PA / Business Assistant
Event or Project Coordination / Management
University / Course Ambassador roles
Public speaking, including giving
Roles in Alumni / student support
Customer-facing part-time work – hospitality,
Reception-based administrative roles
Customer / client service
Society Treasurer roles
Number-based university course (economics,
Finance / Accounts Assistant
Associate / Analyst roles
Administrative roles within financial
Graduate schemes in Financial Services
President roles in societies / student
Taking leadership roles within group projects
Identifying the market
As well as identifying strengths, it’s good to start brainstorming particular sectors you’d like to progress your career in. Start by pinpointing various industries and then work to understand the rudiments of the markets. Who are the main companies? How has the market fared in the last couple of years? Is there any big news within this market? Knowledge is good, as you may be asked in an interview what your understanding of the industry/market is and why you want to get into it. By doing the research, you can also start building up a list of questions you can ask to drive discussion in a future interview. Being proactive, as well as being curious, is key.
As well as showing off your experience on your CV, another good idea is to equip yourself with more! As mentioned before, proactivity is a quality that’s valued by employers and seeking out paid or unpaid opportunities is a great way of building up your experience and honing your skill set further.
Key area’s of work that can be great for honing transferable skills are hospitality, customer services and administration. Securing a role in one of these areas, or showcasing prior experience you’ve had to date, will be great additions to your CV.
If you’re interested in segueing into an office-based role, it may be helpful to consider short-term internships or temporary work. Temping can be a great way of getting a feel for different industries/company environments. Having 3-6 months temping experience on your CV can also be a great way of getting your foot in the door and this will look great to prospective employers.
You may also want to continue further study. If you want to go into the finance sector, for example, there are great intensive financial qualifications you can take online to build up your knowledge. If it’s administration you’re more interested in, secretarial diploma’s such as Oxford Media and Business School and Quest Professional, offer 1-year courses which can give you a foundational workplace skill set across areas such as Advanced IT, Business Communications, Marketing and Office Skills – to name a few!
Whether it’s through LinkedIn, family connections, university services, or sending your CV to various recruitment agencies – networking is key! This doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s just all about having conversations and getting your name out there. Through this, you’ll be able to get different perspectives, market insights and also helpful, contrastive feedback on your CV. Stay authentic and show your personality when speaking to people and interviewing. The right thing will come at the right time!
Further Reading and Support
VWA offers a number of career mentoring modules designed to help you to build confidence, align personal values and connect your career goals – while identifying individual drivers with a holistic approach to your job search. If you’d like to find out more please visit our Career Mentoring page: VWA Career Mentoring - VWA
VWA Career Guides
If you’d like further support on anything from crafting a great CV to tips for preparing for interviews, why not check out some of our other guides:
If you would like to talk to one of our Consultants about any temporary or permanent opportunities we currently have, please do get in touch via the form at the bottom of this article or email us directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in touch
Get in touch to find out more about our vacancies, roles or how we can help bring the best talent to your business.