Starting your career in a time of crisis
Graduating and starting your job search in 2022 was a far more memorable experience than that which confronted the graduates of 2020 and 2021, finishing their studies in the midst of a pandemic, graduating remotely after studying remotely. While Covid-19 remains a threat and a significant influence on the global agenda, it has receded, perhaps only to be replaced by more global uncertainty amidst conflict and economic uncertainty. Starting your career is always a challenging time, and while you can’t control external factors, it helps to be aware of how they can affect the working world. Here are some tips about the new working world, which has changed radically over the last three years.
Resilience is something which has been emphasised considerably over the last three years, as students grappled with studies, projects and exams in a remote, isolated environment, deprived of the collegiate and social atmosphere in which they normally thrive. While the challenge has changed, the need for resilience remains. You will always face challenges, setbacks and tough choices. This is nothing new, but everyone’s situation is unique. Make sure you talk to your careers service about any key decisions relating to your career, they really are the best equipped to help. You can then augment your thinking with advice from friends and family. Preparation is everything. Setting realistic objectives for yourself is a key point in starting your career. Identify what success will look like in realistic milestones. Don’t aim for unachievable goals but focus on building a path toward those goals.
This is a new reality for a great many in the workforce. Fully remote or hybrid working has marked a revolutionary stage in the world of work, and despite the uncertainty which gave birth to it, it has exposed the fallacy of much of what went before. Work is, for many, something you do, not somewhere you go. Now, that is not true for a large percentage as well, where onsite working is essential. But whatever working world you’re entering, working, or collaborating remotely, is likely to play a large part in it.
Amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, there was a significant increase in interest in postgraduate study. Taking your study to the next level can bring great advantages, but also presents significant challenges in terms of workload and cost. If you’re considering further study, make sure you are doing it with an objective in mind.
There is a time in your career when you can make a decision on a job based purely on salary. At the start on your career is probably not that time, as other factors are equally as important. These include personal and professional development, the values of a company, what motivates you, what sort of working life do you want and what do you want to achieve. Salary is ultimately one of the prime reasons we work though, and it’s important to know what you’re worth and what the average market rate is. According to gradireland research , the average graduate salary stands at €31,938, very similar to recent years.
Understand what employers are looking for
For employers, resilience and motivation is hugely important to them. They want to be sure that you’re genuinely interested in the role and the employer, and you’ll need to have done your research to convince them. Employers also love candidates with work experience, and they are particularly keen on recruiting their own interns into graduate jobs. The pandemic and social distancing requirements caused big difficulties for internships, with lots of students finding the work experience they had lined up being cancelled or postponed. Ultimately, do not worry about having not done an internship or if it was moved to a virtual environment; recruiters will not expect you to, given the circumstances. They will appreciate anything you did to boost your skills, enhance your CV and add to your employability skills.
Know how to present yourself in your applications
Make sure you can translate your experience of part-time work, studying and extracurricular activities into the kind of soft, transferable skills that employers are looking for, such as communication, motivation, time management and so on. This will underpin how you present yourself in your applications and interviews and will enable you to show that you match the skills required for the job. It’s best to take a strategic approach, focusing on doing fewer applications well rather than trying to fire off as many applications as possible. Remember you need to tailor each application for the employer.
Prepare for aptitude tests
Online aptitude tests are used by many large employers. They’re often set at an early stage in the graduate recruitment process, so you might find you’re asked to take some tests after you’ve submitted your initial online application.
Virtual interviews and assessment centres
Many graduate employers already used video interviews before the pandemic, but plenty more have since joined them. While there has been an eager return to face-to-face interaction, expect video interviews to stay. Candidates sometimes find these challenging but, on the plus side, you can fit them in at a time that is convenient for you. Some employers are running virtual assessment centres as well as, or instead of, video interviews. A good way to prepare for both video interviews and virtual assessment centres is to think about what questions you might be asked. Chances are the employer will use competency-based questions. These involve asking for examples of a particular skill or competency.