5 Steps to a First Job You'll Actually Enjoy
Feel a bit lost after your degree? Wonder what happened to that glittering career? You're not alone. Many graduates feel disillusioned in the brutal reality of today's job market. The good news is that if you follow these five steps, you can get new inspiration in finding a job you enjoy.
Challenge your own assumptions about yourself. Ask yourself:
- Do I express my own intentions or aspirations, or those which come from someone else (friends, family etc)?
- What is really important to me in a job? (money / status / doing good / leaving time for other interests)
- What skills have I gained from what I've done already? (answering the phone, dealing with customers, using software, organising events. managing a budget, working in, or leading, a team) - these are the things employers really care about
- What are my strengths? (Think about positive feedback you've received from others about how you did a particular task)
- How's my motivation? What will I / won't I do to get a job? (For example, am I able / willing to do a trial period without pay?)
Be specific about what success looks like for you - not the ideal job, but the 'good enough' job.
Now commit time to replacing fantasy with fact. How much do you actually know about what the work consists of day to day, how people got started in those jobs, what you would need to get the prospective employer interested? Come up with a plan about how to fill in the gaps in your knowledge. For example:
- Write an article about how to get started in a particular job (even if you don't actually get it published …) Research it by asking for meetings with people in the sector.
- Identify people who can give you information (use LinkedIn, or your own network) then ask for a brief meeting to get their advice (people love talking about their jobs)
Ask the right questions (“What are your three top tips for someone wanting a job like yours?" “What do you look for in your selection process?") and record the answers. Remember that it's not about you - it's about THEM.
Use this information to identify the obstacles between you and your 'good enough' job. Accept what you can't change, or influence, and identify what you can. Write a plan - with a timeline - showing how you will address each obstacle.
Identify three organisations which interest you and identify key people within them. Use your networks - people you know, or your family knows. NEVER ask for a job (the answer will invariably be no) ALWAYS ask for advice ('just 15 minutes of your time') - show curiosity and keep asking questions. If you think the meeting is going well, ask for a short-term internship on either minimum wage (or expenses only if you can). Unpaid internships can be appalling exploitation - but not if you are receiving valuable training and experience. Use every piece of information you gather in job applications, covering letters, assessment days and interviews.
Try not to take rejection personally. Don't become isolated or suffer in silence - buddy up with a friend and help each other. And finally, know when to seek emotional help - feeling unwanted can lead to depression and anxiety which becomes yet another obstacle to getting a job you enjoy.