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Nine tips to help you succeed in your career quest

If you’ve decided to enter the world of work it can be daunting to decide where your future lies. Possibilities can become improbabilities 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 nine tips to help you on your way.

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 financial crisis. However competition remains stiff for the best jobs. About half of employers we surveyed felt that there would be challenges for them to get 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 which ticks all the boxes. You will always need to learn 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 – to earn as much money as possible, get relevant experience to get you 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 it is expected of you, 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, 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

With up to 50% of graduate roles being filled by people who have previously worked in that organisation, according to gradireland research, the importance of internships, work placements and indeed any sort of workplace experience cannot be stressed enough. remember, almost all 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? Understanding the value of experience, no matter how small, will stand you in good stead. Plus, it shows future recruiters 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.

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

A lot of graduates get hung-up on the sector (eg finance) rather than the role (eg account manager), not realising that most organisations need a similar teams of people – people to solicit 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. Visit here to find out more.

7. Get to know people and network

Remember the six degrees of separation idea? Use this to your advantage. Career networking has taken off over the last couple of years: recruiters will be running events on campus; most sectors will have professional bodies that run networking events, such as those by the 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.

8. Recognise the skills you gain from experience

A summer spent waitressing at corporate events or working as a retail assistant may not be enjoyable, 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.

9. Ask for help from your parents, but don’t let them hover over you

It’s great if you’ve got very supportive parents – use them to help your selfawareness and give you insights. But you need to drive things and make things happen for yourself – it’s your career and you’re the one that will have to sit through a job interview/ assessment centre. There is nothing more likely to turn a recruiter off than being called by a parent inquiring with their child’s application. Believe me, in the age of ‘helicopter parenting’, this actually does happen.