The pressure of finding ‘the one’ perfect job can seem so stressful that it is tempting to avoid thinking about it, or go for the easy option, just to feel like you have a plan.
There are probably many different career areas that you could enjoy. In fact, in the current fast changing job market it is likely that you will change your career a number of times in your working life. At this stage, it is important to make the most of opportunities available to you (work experience and volunteering etc.), gaining skills and experience along the way, so you are in a strong position to make your next step when the time comes.
Knowing what's out there
- Exploring different job roles and employers will make you aware of the large number of jobs available and what they actually involve. This will help you identify types of roles you might be interested in and those you are not. Often deciding what you don’t want to do (and thinking about why) is the easiest way to start focusing on what you do want to do.
- For many graduate jobs, recruiters are more interested in your skills (e.g. leadership, commercial awareness or analytical skills) rather than specific degree subject. Did you know QMUL English graduates have gone on to become accountants, Geography graduates can work in computer programming and chemistry graduates have gone into a sales career for example? There are likely to be more options available to you than you might think.
- You can get some basic information about different industries and job roles from websites like Prospects, Target Jobs and the Graduate Recruitment Bureau. Attending employer events is also a great way to ask people from the industry questions about what it is really like to work in a particular job or company. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to make contact with people who can answer your questions. See our resources for further details on how to build your networks and what questions to ask.
- Once you have found areas you are potentially interested in, see our Getting into job hunting guides to find work experience opportunities so you can try for yourself to see what it’s like. Many people find that what they thought would be their ideal job, is actually not for them at all....
Another way to think about your options is to think about your skills, values and what interests you. Ask yourself;
- What am I good at?
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What would I like to learn more about?
- What kind of people do I like to interact with and why?
- What kind of impact would I like to have?
It can be difficult to have a clear answer to these types of questions. If so, perhaps you should try a few different types of work related opportunities to experiment before you try to launch into something more permanent.
Online career matching tools like Prospects Planner can be helpful. Even if you aren’t convinced by the results, it is a way to start thinking about potential options and why they might (or might not be) suitable.
Final words of advice:
- Be curious. Keep an open minded and keep asking questions. Take an interest in what other people do and how they got there.
- Be flexible. Be aware of placing unnecessary limitations on your choices. If you rule too many things out in the search for perfection, don’t be surprised if you’re left with no options at all. Be open to trying things you’ve never tried before. Don’t be reckless, but don’t try to play it safe either.
- Be persistent (and positive). The reality is we will all face rejection from employers and set backs at some point. The important thing is to learn from the experience and use it to help you make your next decision.