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What every graduate needs to know before they graduate

By Rebecca 11 Apr 2019
Male USQ graduate standing with mother in cap and gown.

I am often surprised how some students can get through their whole degree without really thinking about the end game –getting a job! Ideally you should be thinking about and taking steps toward your ideal career throughout your time at university. But as they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and before you know it you’ll be crossing the stage into the big wide world of employment!

So, let’s take a look at what you can you do with the time you have left at uni to improve your employability once you take off the cap and gown.

Here are 5 things I think all students need to know about the graduate job market – before you take to the stage!

1. Employers don’t just want a degree qualified candidate with a high GPA

This might come as a surprise to some, but they want well-rounded candidates. Real people, with real life experience.

Have a think about your own experiences, your involvement in extra-curricular activities. Have you got employment or work experience? It doesn’t necessarily have to be degree specific – your job at McDonalds counts! Have you volunteered and got involved in your community? If your answer is no, not really … you need to do something about it now!

These activities enhance and develop your employability skills, and are the traits that employers want in their employees, regardless of whether you plan to be an astronaut or an accountant!

Still need some convincing? Graduate Careers Australia (who are the gurus in everything ‘graduate’) undertake an annual investigation into graduate recruitment trends and practices. The 2014 Graduate Outlook Survey (which isn’t a bad read if you are after some light reading) identifies the top 10 most important traits when recruiting graduates as; communication skills, academic results, teamwork skills, aptitude, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, work experience, cultural fit, motivational fit and adaptability.

Can you show a prospective employer that you possess these skills?

Motivational: The only place success comes before work is in the Dictionary.

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

As a graduate there are several options for the types of jobs you can now apply for. Two of the most popular are graduate jobs and graduate program positions. So what’s the difference? In a nutshell …

Graduate jobs (or entry-level jobs) require a qualification, and a specific set of skills and knowledge. They get your foot in the door by giving you experience, and the opportunity to develop and commence your professional career. Vacancies can become available at any time of the year.

Graduate programs are formalised programs with set durations, training and development, and can feature rotations. They are highly competitive, representative of certain industries, and often limited to capital cities and major metropolitan areas. Most have one key recruitment period per year, some with applications closing as early as April, so you need to get in early or you will miss out.

But, don’t put your eggs all in one basket.

What happens if you only apply for one graduate program position, and you don’t get the call up? You’re back to square one. I would encourage you to rethink your criteria and to apply for positions that are relevant to you, that you’re interested in and you can see the potential to grow in. While they all might not be your dream job – think further afield.

3. Keep it real

I can’t stress enough the importance of having realistic expectations. Yes you may have graduated from a Business Management degree, however you’re not going to be a business manager your first year out! Try and keep the bigger picture in mind when applying for jobs. Growth, progression and development take time, so make the most of each phase of the process and learn as much as you can from where you are now.

Motivational: If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.

4. Don’t get hasty and botch your application 

Writing job applications is like writing an assignment. You can’t (well shouldn’t) leave it to the last minute and expect great results. This is the most important part of the entire job application process. If you don’t do this well, you won’t get another chance.

5. Don’t be disheartened

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get that dream job straight away. Your career is a pathway, a journey, not necessarily a destination. The most important thing is to learn from each application, swallow your pride and seek feedback on where you can improve and be willing to put the effort in and adapt your application where necessary. A knock back is only a failure if you don’t learn something from it!

Motivational: I can choose to let it define me, confine me, refine me, outshine me, or I can choose to move on and leave it behind me.

If you’re heading toward graduation we’re here to help you step into your career. But don’t wait until you’ve crossed the stage, come see the Careers & Employability Team now to get a head start on your post-uni plans!

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