Max the Graduate gives us an update of life on the graduate job search front line…
Earth, 2021, audiences across the UK tune in to the latest reality TV sensation, where a line-up of recent graduates fight it out to win a barely-rent-covering job with a digital marketing agency. Welcome to the Hunger Games: Linkedin edition!
Recessions are not a great time for job hunters. In the last couple of months, I’ve cycled through ups and downs, reconciling with my current situation. It’s coming up to a year since I finished my Master’s and I’ve felt stuck for much of it.
At the start of the crisis, I obsessed over finding a ‘career’ job during lockdown. Opportunities were minimal, sifting through scraps I tried to mould my experience to work that didn’t match my job criteria (salary, role, location etc.). Stretching myself to meet positions that were so unsuitable, I found myself repeatedly lowering expectations and devaluing my abilities.
This could be seen time wasted, that I should’ve just spent a few months picking up a new skill instead. However, there were some significant benefits that have helped me reach a point where I am happy with how my job hunt is going, despite many rejections.
First, having looked around different industries for opportunities, I’ve got a better idea of the geography of the social, media, policy and market research sectors. Now I know the different paths I can take, realising good positions to aim for at the start of a career. Knowing this I am looking for opportunities to gain relevant experience and expand my skill set, such as volunteering as a researcher for NGO’s or taking online courses. The Skills Toolkit run by the National Careers Service, is a great resource for digital upskilling that I’ve made use of.
Next, having written numerous CVs and cover letters for different jobs, I have a better understanding of my skills and how they fit into the job market. This has triggered a subtle switch in mentality when writing cover letters, taking a more front foot approach that confidently sells me as a person. From doing this I am more positive about approaching organisations speculatively, telling them why they need me.
Building up this confidence has been a slow process. Job applications are a repetitive and thankless process, caring for yourself is key. Despite many down days, I’m much happier about where I’m at. The most important thing I’ve learned has been to recognise when I’m not feeling it, I will walk away. Perspective is a useful tool for self-preservation, particularly when steeling yourself for tasks unlikely to reap instant reward. Learning this and how to deploy it has been an invaluable takeaway from the last few months.
Despite rejections, these positives have got me moving in the right direction, and hopefully I will be returning with good news in the next instalment.