Getting ready for your career: eight tips to help you succeed in your career quest

Last updated: 14 Jul 2023, 08:29

Entering the world of work, it can be daunting to decide your future path. Possibilities can become improbabilities, certainties can become frustrations, and you can find yourself over-thinking what skills you don’t have rather than realising what you do have and playing to your strengths. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

Stopping dominoes from falling.

1. Show employers that you’re worth the job

The graduate unemployment statistics may be reassuring, with more graduates in employment and in demand since before the COVID pandemic. However, competition remains stiff for the best jobs. Our most recent employer data shows that almost half of companies felt that there would be challenges for them in terms of attracting the graduates they need, rather than the graduates they can get. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that demand will outstrip supply. Employers are more demanding than ever of their graduates, so show them you have what it takes.

2. Be realistic about your progress

It’s exceptionally rare that someone will step into a job on their first day and feel instantly that this is the perfect job that ticks all the boxes. You will always need to learn throughout your career and nowhere is the learning curve steeper than at the start of your career. There will always be some tough trade-offs and choices to be made. Decide what your priorities are – personal or career development, to get relevant experience to help as a steppingstone to your next job, or simply to enjoy your work as much as possible. Once you know what you want out of a job, you’ll know if it’s ticking the boxes.

3. Know what type of jobs suit your personality

Create a personality profile and be totally honest with yourself, which is not always easy. When you first begin applying for roles, you shouldn’t be applying for a role because you think you should or because it matches what you studied – you should be doing so because that role excites you. Do you like meeting new people (maybe business development), crunching data (financial or data analysis) or solving problems (consultancy or project management)? University or college, internships and part-time work provide ideal situations where you can find out more about what you enjoy doing, and what you don’t. Armed with this information, you will be in a better position to know what career you would like to pursue.

4. Understand the importance of internships and work experience

Internships are an excellent way to gain some much-needed experience and to start networking within your chosen industry. They can also help you figure out the type of work you enjoy doing. The importance of internships, work placements and indeed any sort of workplace experience cannot be stressed enough. Remember, most internships are effectively protracted job interviews.

5. All experience is good experience

How do you know for sure that a sector is for you if you have never tried it? How do you know that start-ups won’t provide the best environment for career development when you only focus on corporate entities, or vice versa? Understanding the value of experience, no matter how small, will always benefit you as your career develops. Plus, it shows future recruiters and prospective employers, that you’re thinking about your career. Make sure you keep a list of experiences and skills you have gained, no matter how small or how brief you may think they are.

6. Have an open mind when it comes to career sectors

A lot of graduates get hung up on the sector (e.g. finance) rather than the role (e.g. account manager), not realising that most organisations need similar teams of people – people to develop business, conduct research, analyse data, write software etc. Another common misconception is that you will be pigeon-holed by your degree. As long as you can demonstrate transferable skills, future employers are more likely to take notice. In fact, there is a far broader range of jobs available to you with your degree than you think and that is true for almost all sectors.

7. Get to know people and network

Career networking is always important and there are plenty of opportunities to grow your network. Recruiters will be running events on campus; most sectors will have professional bodies that run networking events, such as those by Chartered Accountants Ireland or Engineers Ireland for example. Be broad with your networking to begin with – it’s all about keeping your options open and you never know what useful contact you might meet. Be polite, respectful and aware of other people’s time and privacy, but also be confident and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

8. Recognise the skills you gain from experience

A summer spent working as a server at corporate events or working as a retail assistant might be a difficult and challenging job, but it will provide you with any number of competencies – organisation, leadership and the ability to keep a cool head in a potentially stressful environment. The more you develop these skills the less of a risk you are to a recruiter – they know you can do what you’ll be doing in your new job, rather than you just saying you can. It shows invaluable real-world experience and commercial awareness.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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