If you’ve fallen into the assumption that you’re going to walk out of your first-class education and fall straight into the job of your dreams…well, let’s just say you’re not alone. The trouble with landing your first job as a freshly-qualified graduate is that while you may be armed to the teeth with impressive paper, so too will be another small army of graduates. According to the experts at Anglo Technical Recruitment, it’s technically never been more of a challenge to nail that first job for the simple reason that there are in most cases far more hungry candidates than there are jobs available.
Now, try your utmost for as long as you possibly can and chances are you’ll get there in the end – perseverance rarely fails to pay. That being said, all the time you spend looking for that ideal post you’re earning little more than a rather stark blank space on your CV and in your track record, which is guaranteed to make it more difficult for you to find gainful employment further down the line. It’s no secret that blank spaces are not what you’d call the ‘best friend’ of the modern recruiter, but with such a fight ahead of you, it’s possible that it could be weeks, months or even longer before you actually get your foot in the door.
In which case, what can be done to lessen the damage of these kinds of employment gaps?
1 – Unpaid Experience
First of all, the most valuable kind of experience of all is that which is relevant to the area in which you intend to base your career. As far as your future employers are concerned, it really doesn’t matter in the slightest whether you got paid or not for the work you did – why would it? As such, it’s a good idea to check out what kinds of unpaid work experience opportunities there may be on the cards as while it’s never entirely pleasant to know you’re working for free, there’s a strong chance it will pay dividends in the future. And of course, it’s fairly common for unpaid work experience staff to be taken on as permanent paid employees, if they prove invaluable to the business.
2 – Further Study
If you can’t find anything practical or simply cannot bring yourself to work for free, perhaps the next best thing would be to use your time to further your academic pursuits. Now, it’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean just reading a few books and expecting folk to believe you spent your employment gap studying – it needs to be something more regimented and quantifiable. It doesn’t have to be an official course or organised class, but if you choose to play the gap-filling study card you need to establish a goal, plan a course of action and be ready to explain what you did and why. This kind of independence and proactivity is pure gold in the eyes of employers.
3 – Any Job at All
You may be looking for a job as a structural engineer, but does this mean that taking a job in your local bar or burger joint in the meantime will harm your chances? It’s an assumption that most graduates make, though is in fact 100% contrary to the reality of the situation. The last thing any employer wants is a candidate with an ‘I am far too good to take a job that’s below me’ whereas those willing to take any job at all to tide things over score massive points, every time. It’s a case of showing genuine willingness to work and the motivation to look outside the usual ‘box’ if necessary to keep yourself busy.
4 – Volunteer Work
It sounds like a bit of a cliché and in many ways is exactly that, but at the same time there’s nothing that speaks more highly of a candidate than the willingness to do something 100% selfless for the benefit of others. As such, volunteer work is a fantastic way of filling your time if there’s a gap to be filled – it’s a way of saying that rather than doing nothing at all, you’d rather do something for the greater good.
5 – Use Your Time Wisely
Last but not least, if you have an epic amount of time available in the gap between the end of your studies and nailing the job of your dreams, technically you can and therefore should be dedicating full-time working hours to job-seeking and job applications. Any time you spend making applications should be recorded and records kept of your applications, just in case you’re requested to quantify anything when the time comes to win over future recruiters.