"A philosopher once wrote you need three things to have a good life. One, a meaningful relationship, two, a decent job of work, and three, to make a difference." David Brent

Monday, 10 October 2011

Experience Required!

The biggest mistake I made career hunting wise (and I believe it to be a common one), was to complete my degree without ever having a clear idea of what I wanted to do after university. I attended my graduation ceremony, posed proudly for pictures in my gown and left with my golden ticket to future employment, a certificate saying MA graduate. I now know that this view was extremely naive. For most graduate employers the 2:1 is simply the minimum requirement and if you are relying purely on your arts degree for employment you can expect your CV to be filed swiftly, neatly and irreversibly in the pile labelled NO.
However, I did not know this whilst completing my degree. I took my studying seriously, worked hard to get the marks I needed and had a part time job to fund myself. As far as I was concerned, I was doing everything I could and I was on the right track. It was not until sometime after I graduated that I realised where I had gone wrong. I had never sat down and thought clearly about what I wanted to do, had I done so I would have then been able to find a part time job in this field or even volunteer at a relevant company during the holidays. If I could offer one piece of advice to students or graduates, it would be to work out what you want to do and then go about gaining experience in this field whichever way you can. The graduate job market is teeming with people with degrees, not people with experience, by gaining experience you are giving yourself a unique selling point over your competitors and standing out to employers. I began applying for jobs unaware of this knowledge. Scrolling through various job websites I spent the afternoon, upon seeing a job I liked, imagining my new exciting life within this career. I also became extremely accustomed to the gut wrenching, despondent feeling caused by the frequent and annoyingly predicable appearance of a certain two worded sentence. Experience Required!
All was not lost though. I soon stumbled across advertisements for jobs within recruitment that all seemed to read like this. “Experience not required due to quality in house training, degree 2:1 or above in any degree acceptable, handsome pay packet anywhere between £25-£55k, company car, mobile, frequent holidays and a clear path for progression”. Asking myself, why everybody wasn’t desperately seeking work in recruitment I sent my CV out to six recruitment companies the next day. Within forty minutes one of the companies had phoned back stating they were highly impressed with my CV, by 10.30am another company had also got in touch saying they would like meet me. “Bingo!!!” I thought, “I’ve hit the jackpot” It was only when all six of them had got in touch by the end of the day that I began to smell a rat. Having done a bit of research I discovered that the job that sounded too good to be true, was. As well as the money being dramatically less than what was stated, a frequent complaint on forums was that what was described primarily as a research job was in fact an extremely target driven and somewhat dishonest sales job. That many recruitment firms have a staff turnover of 70% every two years says a great deal about the job. Incidentally, it is also worthwhile to point out that when a recruitment firm asks if you have applied for any other jobs, be very wary of telling them, although it may sound like they are finding out more about you, they are using you to research the market. A common trick used by recruiters is to take the information you give them that Company X is recruiting and then contact this company stating they have a few ideal candidates for the role.
Anyway, I have gone a little off track, the point I was making was that the ‘dream jobs’ in recruitment aside, there was not a great deal out there that did not require experience. I realised I had to have a good think about what I wanted to do. The purpose of this post was to chat about how I felt upon entering the job market immediately after university. I was, as Paul McCartney sings, “out of college, money spent, saw no future, paid no rent”. However things begin to pick up when you definitively decide what you want to do. This is because it is only through knowing where you want to be that you can begin work out how to get there. One of the hardest steps in your job search is deciding what you want to do, after that everything gets a little easier and not half as dauntings. Thank you for reading.

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