The unfortunate truth is that the job market is a tough old world. Getting a foot in the door for your first career step and chasing your dream job can be as tricky as working out who Kate Moss is currently dating.
Many graduates often come up against the ‘experience’ dilemma, which is a case of the swings and roundabouts scenario- you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience if no-one gives it to you in the first place! So, the initial starting out period will require an extra effort on your part to get your talents out there- a short term exertion that will reap the benefits in the long-run.
Be a bit flexible
I don’t mean learn the ‘splits’. You have found your perfect role but the downfall is that the role is in a different city- so what are you waiting for? Employers never underestimate the effort taken for you to relocate to a new city for the right role. Whilst you may feel panicked about being thrown into a new life in an unknown town, the chances are that in a couple of year’s time you will have enough experience to feel confident looking for a similar position in a more suitable location. Do not be afraid to ask your prospective employers about social activities within the company. These will allow you to make new friends in the area, and shout about the fact that you are not fazed by the prospect of relocating as you are such a confident and easy going character!
It is all about the experience
There is no better way to learn fast about a job whilst simultaneously getting a taste of the industry in a no-strings-attached situation other than work experience. Work placements are respected by potential employers as they prove that not only have you taken the initiative to acquire the experience you need (but did not previously have), but that you have also been willing to slog your guts out without the ease of financial reward.
You may be sitting at work lusting over your friend’s job in the production department, which appears way more challenging than yours, so why not play detective to find out a bit more? Talk to your boss: see if he can widen your responsibilities a tad to make you feel more fulfilled. Better yet, see if you can shadow your pal for a day to confirm that that is really the right move for you or if in fact, she is just talking up her role after one too many beers down at the pub.
The most likely situation you will find yourself in is the position of not having enough of the right experience to apply for the dream job you want. The important thing to do is to simply seek the experience out. Research the exact experience that your potential future employers will be looking for- call up their human resources department and ask them outright what kind of boxes they look to tick when recruiting for your dream job. Once you have identified the right industry for you, look into which companies offer work experience. Draft them a polite email (tends to be more successful than a written letter which can end up in a bin quicker) outlining your relevant experience to date and your goals. Make sure you are realistic in your efforts and target at least five or more companies to increase your chances of being offered a placement. If you have not had a response within a week, then follow up with a courtesy email reminding them you are still eager for experience and hope your pleas fall upon kind ears.
You are in, so what next?
You may be tempted to hang tough once you have managed to secure a work placement, on the off-chance that you may be offered a job. Be warned- the odds of this happening are not usually in your favour. The most likely, and rewarding part of seeking out a work experience opportunity, is the people you meet during your time there. Be pro-active in making good contacts whilst being careful not to probe people too strenuously; to the point of them taking out a restraining order. Make a good impression on those people lucky enough to already be where you are aiming to be. This positive impression could result in them taking a mental note of your abilities. They may well put in a good word to the right people if the time then came to make headway for a paid role.
That has the basics covered, so now is the time to put your plans into action.
Remember that you can do anything if you put your mind to it and the only way for your career now is up, up, up.