By Emma Felton
Working with LSBF Career Services as the Business Development & Placements Executive. Primarily focusing on the School Leavers Project for ACCA with a wider remit for business development and careers guidance, training and skills development for the Professional School.
It’s perfectly normal to finish your studies and think “now what?!”
Entering the work force is a daunting, yet exciting, prospect and it’s really not that bad if you've got a plan in place. I call it “powering up”. Think of the job search strategy as an airplane – the plane doesn’t just take off straight away – it does a lap around the tarmac and the engine is revved considerably before setting off down the runway.
“Powering up” really needs to start a few months out from finishing study - if not, you might find yourself eating baked beans on a nightly basis, trawling the internet for work, while your friends are already out enjoying every Beer Garden that London has to offer.
So, how does one start “powering up?”
- Career Pathways – it’s important to start thinking about what path you'll take. Are you thinking about a short-term internship to get you started? Perhaps there is a Graduate Program you have your eye on? Or, you might be wanting to start out in a junior permanent position. Firstly think about what avenue is best for you.
- Mentoring – not sure about the kind of role you want, or what sector you should be going in to? Now is the time to meet with a Career Coach or Mentor to discuss your career pathway. Take with you an open mind, a willingness to talk, and a bunch of your questions and concerns.
- Research – research roles you will soon be applying for. What kind of key competencies are highlighted? Are there some you feel you need to brush up on? Identify these, and if need be, look at extra workshops or courses. Get familiar with the attributes required and how you might fit with them.
- Build your Achievement Database – create an excel database that highlights all your key competencies and achievements. Natural Leader perhaps? Note this in your achievement database and apply examples of where you have displayed leadership from one or more of the four key areas: Personal, Education, Professional, Hobbies.
- Networking and Creating your Own Personal Brand – now is the time to start making connections. If you don’t have LinkedIn, do it now. Find other’s from your University, connect with more people through the others that you know. Join company groups and communities, and get involved in online discussions. Leave your comments on various forums – get recognised. Don’t be afraid to ask to connect with those you look up to. Sign up to relevant blogs and e-newsletters so that you can stay “in the know”. Attend every industry event possible.
- Perfect your CV and cover letter – if need be, get help with this from your Career Coach or Mentor. Also, there are some great websites with sample CV’s and cover letters. Make sure that your CV fits with the country’s requirements, for example if in the UK, a date of birth is not needed, nor your nationality or a picture of yourself. Keep it under 2 pages long, and your sections succinct yet clear. Highlight your key strengths, attributes and skills. Once ready, upload your CV here
- Hit the job search hard – Dedicate a set amount of hours per week for your job search, e.g. 10 hours per week. Be aware that applying for positions can take some time, and often there are online forms to complete aside from attaching a CV. Remember also that for each application your cover letter will need to be adjusted. Get dressed for work before applying for jobs to help with motivation. Stay clear of overwhelming job sites such a Reed - instead, hone in on job sites more specific to your career pathway and your preferred industry. Haven’t heard back in two weeks? Call the employer and ask for a status update.
- Interview Prep – if possible, have a mock interview with your Career Coach or Mentor. Study the competency-based questions and prepare your answers, and perhaps go over them with a friend. Remember that you need to reflect on specific examples – therefore it is important that you fully understand and recognise your key competencies, and how you have applied them in the four key areas. Having a high level of self-awareness will mean that you sound less robotic in the interview. Also, ensure that you have a few questions for the employer – remember it is not just them looking for a suitable candidate, but you as well.
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