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A leaver’s guide to job hunting

Weronika ZBenning16 August 2016

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Image: Young Woman With Diploma, ABQ Museum Photoarchives

Just graduated? Congratulations. The world is now your oyster. But for a lot of recent leavers, moving on from UCL doesn’t come easy and can be more than a little daunting. Don’t forget that as a recent leaver, you now have access to our services via UCL Careers Graduates, our 2-year provision of continued 1-1 coaching, workshops and events to continue supporting you.

In the meantime, here are 5 key tips to kick start your job hunt and keep you motivated :

1. Think of job hunting as a job

Like most things in life, the more you put in to something, the more you get out of it. Job hunting takes time. Put in as many hours and as much energy as you would doing a job in order to get things moving and keep up your motivation. As well as looking for roles and making applications, do your research and keep up to date with industry news. An action plan can be a great way of structuring your time and giving you a sense of achievement when you can tick things off that you’ve done.

2. Connect with people

Opportunities can come from those you know and those they know, but the biggest source of opportunities are actually people you don’t know – YET! Join Linkedin and start connecting with people who might be in a position to help. Contact a UCL alumni careers mentor, go to conferences or events organised by industries you’re looking to work in. Engage with the industry by following companies through social media and get involved in discussions. Connecting with people is a great way to gain more knowledge of an industry – find out what the realities of the job roles are, any skills and knowledge required and what the big issues are that are likely to define the industry going forward. People love talking about themselves and what they do – just give them the opportunity! Once you’ve begun to connect and establish relationships, who knows where those conversations could lead! Remember, more people find jobs through ‘word of mouth’ than online job boards so make sure you spend some time thinking about how best to use connections.

3. Be visible

The more you let people know what you’re looking for and make them aware of what you can offer, the more likely you are to find opportunities. Don’t be afraid to speak to people both on and off-line about your job plans as they may be able to give valuable insight or pass on contacts or information you could use. An up-to-date and complete Linkedin profile is fast becoming a must for students and graduates to manage their online brand. Employers use social media as a way of advertising jobs so get connected by following recruiters and relevant job boards. Upload your biography with a link to your LinkedIn account, and start engaging with people in your chosen industry sector.

4. Target your applications

Keep your CV and cover letters relevant and targeted to individual opportunities. Employers continually tell us they’re put off by applications that are general and not specifically adapted to the roles that they’re recruiting for. Use the person specification as a guide to the evidence you need to provide and format your CV in a way that allows the recruiter to relevant information easily. Use Careerstagged, our online careers library to learn how to draft targeted applications and get a UCL Careers consultant to look over your CV, cover letters and draft application form answers in a 1-1 appointment.

5. Create a balance and stay positive!

Job hunting can be a full time job, and like any job, you need to take time out. Make time for exercise, relaxation and fun. Meeting people, eating healthily, exercising and doing things you normally enjoy are all ways to stay positive and avoid the job-hunt taking its toll. Feeling daunted by taking the next step, dealing with rejection and lack of structure to your day can be difficult at times but it’s essential to try and keep a positive mind-set in order to keep your motivation up. Remind yourself of all your positive skills, talk to family and friends to boost your confidence. Remember, lots of recent graduates will be in a similar situation- read our job hunting case studies from previous graduates describing how they tackled the transition on from UCL and see if there’s anything you can learn from the experience.

Best of luck.

By Dave Carter, Careers Consultant.

For other next steps, connect with other UCL Graduates about the job hunt via our dedicated UCL Careers Graduates Facebook and Twitter pages, and make sure you’re subscribed to UCLAlert! to receive the weekly Graduates newsletter.

10 Reasons Why Graduates Sink or Swim in the Workplace

ManpreetDhesi6 October 2015

Carla King, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers, managed large-scale, high profile graduate development programmes for over seven years in industry before deciding to make the change and help UCL students. Using her experience, she has listed the top 10 reasons why Graduates Sink or Swim in the workplace.

Swimming in the Dead Sea Swimming in the Dead Sea/Christian Haugen/Flickr.com

  1. Managing Expectations

One challenge graduates face is a mismatch between their own expectations and those of their new organisation. As difficult as it can be gleaning information up front about the role,  flexibility is essential. Most graduates quickly appreciate the need to work their way up and to seize opportunities. The most successful graduates are those who embrace whatever comes at them.

  1. Integrating and building relationships

A really insightful way of integrating into an organisation quickly is to make new contacts as quickly as possible. This means speaking to people outside of your team at every available opportunity, be it after a meeting or at the coffee machine.  The more you find out what people do the quicker you will be able to link your work with theirs that may potentially benefit your team.

  1. Managing workload effectively

Whilst you are likely to have only one line manager, invariably you will be working for multiple people on a daily basis. The key thing here is to manage your time well by blocking time in your diary, ensuring you keep to deadlines and managing your stakeholders’ expectations. If you’re struggling to meet a deadline, you should be transparent and tell people in good time, ie. 5pm on a Friday will not leave a good impression.

  1. Your profile and reputation

As you begin to achieve and build on your skills, it can be easy to become complacent. Graduates will sometimes fall into the trap of either only doing the basics of what is required or falling in with a negative crowd. Be aware of the risk that may stem from not going above and beyond, and of not being discreet. Once an impression is made, it’s difficult to un-do and your reputation is likely to precede you.

  1. Seizing opportunities

With every job there are the boring bits – don’t let it put you off! Most managers are happy for you to take on things that interest you as long as it won’t impact your work. Think about what you can comfortably do without impinging on your work. What might be an obstacle to you gaining the opportunity?  What will reassure your manager?

  1. Managing upwards

One of the largest of graduate complaints is a perceived lack of management or misunderstanding. Often, managers manage other staff as well as having their own large workloads. If you would like a catch-up, or to speak to your manager about something confidential, why not put half an hour in their diary if they have not already done so? If there is a project/ area you would like to get involved with, talk to them about it – line managers are not mind-readers!

  1. Making mistakes

Graduates have to learn about a new organisation, circumvent office politics, attend skills training, master a new role, all in a very short time. It’s a very steep learning curve. Making mistakes in your first ‘real’ role is to be expected. However, the way in which you deal with mistakes is what stands you out from others. Be responsible, transparent and think of a counter-measure so it will not happen again.

  1. Challenging constructively

Most organisations will talk about needing fresh ideas.  However, it’s how you communicate those ideas that will get you heard. At university, you may be used to challenging others in a social context. In an organisational context, you have to use professional language, logical thinking, and not to be bullish in your approach.

  1. Technical vs Behavioural

Graduates sometimes believe that all they need to be is technically brilliant. However, the reality is that in every role you need to communicate, influence, work in a team, sometimes lead on a project and be motivated. You will leave university with a specific skills set but your employer has recruited you on your potential. It is only with time and experience that the workplace will give you that which will make you into a well-rounded employee. Time is your friend, not your foe.

  1. Resilience

Over your time in education, you will have received lots of feedback. However, in a work context, feedback is different. As well as commenting on your technical ability, you will also have feedback on how you behave, e.g. why didn’t you contribute in that meeting? How might you handle yourself differently? The purpose of feedback is to increase your self-awareness to help you to adapt and improve. When receiving feedback, thank the person, digest the feedback, implement it and move on.

If you need advice on what is expected of you, book a Short Guidance session with a Careers Consultant

– Carla King, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers