I’m sure that many of us remember what it was like trying to find our first job after university. I found it tough, and each year graduates go through the same thing, struggling to get their foot in the door.
Let’s rewind back a few years to when I graduated in 2008, in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis. I applied for numerous jobs on a daily basis, getting interviews from time to time, but as you can imagine there were a lot of rejection emails. I understand there is no golden rule or certainty to finding a job straight away, but part time experience goes a long way. My own employment history during my studies was a huge help when it came to landing my first role. Funnily enough, it was with the organisation I had been working for on a part time basis throughout university.
Recent graduates, or those nearing graduation, may not be faced with a GFC like I was. Now there are new challenges such as the increasing costs of housing, traffic congestion and the media telling us on a daily basis we are about to face a housing crash. However, one factor is still the same: there is a struggle for graduates to find their first career role; the most common line being “we are looking for someone with experience.”
Part Time Work
Working part time throughout high school and university is a great way to get a feel for the work environment; it gives hands on experience in an environment where you work alongside others. Having this experience can be the difference between getting a job and not, especially when competing against someone without it.
Even if your part time work is not related to your studies, you will still pick up transferable skills along the way which can be used in many different kinds of roles. Highly sought after skills include being able to juggle priorities, communication, teamwork and reliability. You can’t get a degree for any of those, but if you’re juggling work commitments and deadlines for university assignments, then that’s a pretty good sign that you can keep up. Your jobs will also help you refine your communication skills, whether you’re greeting customers at work or working as part of a team. If you’re always on time and committed to the job, then that’s even better and is a big positive for your future prospects.
Showcase your part time employment on your CV, and make sure to secure references from your part time employers. Your referees will help to establish your credibility and back up your transferable skills. It also gives you opportunities to give relevant examples when answering behavioral questions in interviews.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on what the economy is doing and think about how your skills can fill the gaps in the market. For example, there are currently plenty of roles that are in need of tech savvy graduates, and many vacancies continue to remain open. Although it’s tempting to be picky, finding a first job means you have to be realistic in regards to salary, hours and work location. If you’re looking at work that’s a little further out of town, make sure that you have reliable transport options to get to and from work; many employers state that hiring someone with a car and driver’s license is a preference.
Temporary work is also another option you can pursue to help you get the valuable experience you need to secure a permanent role. Sometimes, you may even take up a temp position, and secure a permanent position with the company later down the track. Remember that the first job that you get after leaving university might not be your dream job, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. Look at it as a stepping stone into the workforce and career you’re looking for.
Entering the workforce after university can be nerve wracking. It’s more than likely that you’ll face some challenges before securing your first role out of university, but if you effectively showcase your skills and you’re clever in marketing yourself to employers, you can build a solid platform for success.
Never underestimate the value of the part time jobs you might have had at university, as your balance between study and work commitments shows your dedication, drive, and talent. If you’re currently looking for part time work, or graduate opportunities, feel free to get in touch with me today.