Written by Samantha Oates-Miller, Careers Insights and Graduate Support Assistant at the Careers Service
The Careers Service knows how difficult it can be to stay motivated while searching for jobs and many students are concerned about the transition between university and the workplace. This guide is designed to provide advice and resources to help ease those concerns.
After exams, take some time to consider what you would like to do. Explore your career options, think about what you can do with your degree and research roles and sectors that interest you.
Resilience will make you more attractive to employers, as well as helping you stay motivated, get ahead and be successful in your new workplace. Read some tips for building resilience.
Examples of resilience include:
- Team working: not trying to do everything alone
- Social skills: positive relationship with co-workers
- Cultural change: adapting to the workplace
- Time management: 9-5 workday and overtime
- Emotional intelligence: using emotions for positive, healthy working and interactions
- Ability to fail: Staying upbeat whilst making mistakes/ learning
- Dealing with stress and managing own wellbeing
- Sense of entitlement: knowing you deserve to be there
Consider your skills. Hard skills are those specifically related to the role or sector: you may have developed these as part of your course, during work experience, or through societies and volunteering. Soft skills relate to how you work, including resilience, attitude, and flexibility. It can be harder to show these skills, but many employers value them above hard skills, which can be taught on the job.
Employers want to see a range of hard and soft skills. CBI reported (page 7), 60% of employers said skills such as resilience, communication, and problem solving were among their top three priorities when recruiting. Think about when you have demonstrated these skills and use examples in your cover letters, application forms or interviews. Take a skills assessment or read about different skills to help you get started.
Organise your job search. List jobs by application length and deadline to help you to prioritise and keep on track. Save copies of your answers to application questions to assess their success and rework them in later applications. This will make your applications stronger as they will be less rushed and more structured. Use the interview and CV resources on the website to help you build a successful application. Most people don’t secure a job immediately, so don’t give up! Try to stay motivated and bounce back if your applications get rejected.
Wellbeing refers to being comfortable, healthy and happy, with a good quality of life. By learning to manage your wellbeing, you will find it easier to leave university, apply for jobs, and transition into the workplace. Remember to prioritise your wellbeing during your job search.
Mental health is your psychological and emotional wellness. Like wellbeing, managing it can make it easier to find or start a new job. If you are struggling with your mental health, the best thing to do is make an appointment with your GP.
Secured a new job? Congratulations! Here’s what to expect in your first few weeks:
- Transition period. You will likely have a transition period where you will be expected to attend training and meet your co-workers. This will also be where the details of your role are outlined.
- Schedule. Most university courses do not operate 9-5, therefore the change in working patterns can be a shock. Take breaks when you can in your first week, so that you don’t get worn out.
- Workload. University often means setting your own deadlines and deciding your own projects or priorities. However, it is likely that in your new job, your manager will decide this for you. Working collaboratively on predetermined projects may be different to university, but you will get used to it and get to know your teammates better too!
Read stories from other graduates and watch a day in the life of graduate roles for more information on the transition into work. If you are struggling because of your new job, talking to someone can help: find out if your employer has a buddy system, Occupational Health department, or wellbeing champions, to help find strategies to support you at work.
Not in the career you want? Many graduates take a bridging job while searching for positions they really want, but it can be hard to stay motivated as you may feel like you have taken a step back. Remember that all experience is useful for building skills, which will ultimately help you get the job you do want. Additionally, if you are working part time, you can upskill with online training resources, volunteer or do virtual work experience in your sector of interest at the same time.
Hopefully, the tips and advice in this article can help you make a strong transition into the workplace. However, if you need more guidance, remember that graduates have access to the Careers Service for two years. Have a look at the graduate pages of the Careers Service website for resources and information, look at opportunities and events on CareerConnect or book an appointment with a consultant.
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