Getting your first job after uni can be tough - 3 top tips

Monday, June 11, 2018

If you've finished your degree, you may be applying for jobs, placements, internships or other opportunities. So will many other graduates across the UK and beyond. It is not easy.

Something that people do not talk about enough is how hard it can be to receive rejections or to not hear back when you have spent ages on the application. It can be hard not to take this personally. Knowing you have to go through the application/interview process AGAIN when you are not successful can be demoralising. Particularly when it feels like everyone you know has got something lined up already.

Part of this process is about being resilient. Being able to bounce back after rejection is so important – in fact, you often hear from graduates who are now further established in their career about how they had to pick themselves up, keep their pro-activity and motivation up even when they missed out on that opportunity they really wanted (Bath Spa University students can see the graduate case studies on MyCareer for examples of this). 

Being resilient also helped some very famous faces pursue their career goals - check out this article (we've all heard about J.K. Rowling's rejections, but seriously - Marilyn, Elvis and Walt!? What were they thinking?!)

If some of this is resonating with you right now, here are 3 top tips to take back control of your job search:

1) Learn from your experiences 

See the job hunting process as a learning experience. If you receive rejections try not to just focus on the negative, but reflect on what you did well, as well as what you could improve next time (just as you might for a university essay if you didn't get the mark you were aiming for). Ask for feedback from the employer – there might be some small tweaks that may improve your chances of being selected next time, or you may even find out that there are reasons for not being selected that are beyond your control. Remember, it may not be that the employer didn't like you, but perhaps they just didn't like some aspect of your application, which you can do something about. 

2) Be strategic 

Securing a grad job involves taking actions that will most likely increase your chances, which may stretch you or push you outside your comfort zone. In your job search, use a variety of sources to find advertised roles, but also consider approaching relevant organisations speculatively and seek opportunities to meet relevant people in your chosen sector. Generic applications or CVs are less likely to stand out to an employer, so choose your opportunities carefully and invest the time to tailor your application meticulously. Keep track of your progress and consider following up with a polite email or phone call if you don't hear back after a reasonable amount of time. 

3) Talk it through 

Some of these things can be challenging to figure out on your own. It can be hard to take a clear view on what went wrong and how to improve when you are in the midst of it all. Consider booking a careers appointment to talk your experiences through with someone impartial (most university careers services support graduates as well as current students). Careers appointments can also be used to create an action plan to develop your job hunt and application strategy for future. 

So if you've received rejections, try not to feel defeated - you can do something about it.. Remember that very few graduates will get offered the first job they apply for, so try and keep that momentum going.


About the Author 

Amy Haines is a Careers Consultant at Bath Spa University.

Her article is also available here -