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Choosing A Job

So, you’ve graduated, and it’s time to get a job. You know where to look, and how to get ahead in the hunt, but the big question is how do you choose a job? In this article we’ll take a look at how to choose a job that’s right for you.

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How to choose a job

Choosing a jobFirstly, you need to think about how long you’re going to want this job for. If you’ve graduated and you’re looking for a career, you’ll hopefully be aiming at something that has the possibility of being long term. If you’re merely taking a year out between degrees, maybe to fund a gap year, you should probably be looking at more temporary roles.

Now you’ve got that sorted out, let’s look at the other important considerations. When choosing a job, you should be able to answer a few questions:

What is your motivation?

Is your driving motivation a good income, a job you love, or perhaps helping those in need? The answer to this will really affect how you begin to choose your job. If it’s a good income you’re after, you may want to start looking into business and finance roles, but if it’s something more involved with helping others, the chances are you’ll be wanting to start looking at charities or work in the public sector. Make sure you choose something that fits with your motivations.

What aspects of a job would you love?

Consider what aspects of a job appeal to you. Perhaps, you would really love the chance to interact with a whole variety of people. In which case, you should be looking at something customer or client-focused – there’s no point in looking at jobs with very little interaction with others if you’re a people person. Maybe you’re more driven by the prospect of setting goals and hitting them, in which case, jobs with high targets like sales or stock trading, may suit you. Whatever it is that you think you’d enjoy most, try and choose a job that could fulfil this.

What aspects of a job would you hate?

People often say that you won’t always love your job, but that doesn’t mean you have to hate it. If there’s something you know you wouldn’t be able to stand, then you should try to avoid choosing a job that involves that. For instance, if you don’t think you would enjoy a high-pressured role, then financial trading probably isn’t for you. If you don’t enjoy customer interaction, you should probably avoid hospitality and sales. Whilst you might not be able to guarantee a job you love, you should definitely be able to avoid a job you hate!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is a very important consideration. If you’re not sure, then don’t worry about it too much – you do still have time to plan. But if you already have set goals, you should choose jobs that will lead you towards these roles. Want to lead a research laboratory? You should probably start by applying to lab assistant roles. Fancy being head of marketing somewhere? Start by taking on a junior role in a relevant company. It’s never too early to start heading towards that career goal, so take the opportunity! If you don’t know where you want to be in five years, try and choose a job that leaves you plenty of options. After all, not everyone knows what they want to do straight away.

Key questions when job hunting

If you are trying to find that perfect job, here are a couple of more specific questions you should ask yourself.

1. What size of company would suit you?

Do you want to work for a large, sprawling international corporation, or a small local business? Your opinion on this will influence both the jobs available to you (eg smaller businesses often don’t have ‘graduate roles’) and how you go about applying, so think carefully about your preference.

2. What area of employment do you want to work in?

There’s a variety of areas of employment, but the main ones are:

  • Private sector – this is where your big businesses, corporations and profit-driven roles can be found.
  • Public sector – this is anything run by the government, from the NHS to the civil service, to schools.
  • Self-employment – this is where you work for yourself and run what you want to do. This is often best for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
  • Charity work – the goal of this sector is to make money for the charity, rather than profits.

Make sure you’re applying to the jobs that suit you best!

If you’re still really stuck and don’t know what type of employment would suit you best, ask for help. There are tests available online or visit a careers advisor, as they’ll be able to help you take your vague ideas about what you want and whittle them down into something that’ll help you decide where to apply and what to apply for.

University careers guidance

Even if you completed your undergraduate or postgraduate degree a year or two ago, many universities keep their careers services open to alumni. Through this, you may benefit from one-on-one sessions, mock interviews and personalised advice. You’ll also have access to careers fairs which are a brilliant way to find out more about jobs and careers.

Job application advice

Once you’ve worked out what job you want, you need to apply for it – so what’s the best way to do this? Here are some tips.

1. Don't lie in your application

Firstly, and so important that we’re going to put it in capitals – DON'T LIE on your CV. Yes, play up the positives and downplay the negatives, but don’t be tempted to put anything provably false on there. Remember Joey’s disastrous ‘jazz hands’ dance routine in Friends? That was not a good look! Lies will always come back to haunt you! Whatever you put on your CV can be checked, and being proven a liar will almost certainly hinder any future job prospects.

2. Utilise your contacts

Who you know can often help you get your foot in the door, and hopefully during your time at university or whilst interning you’ll have done some networking. If you have someone in the company vouching for you, or even if they recall your name or face, it will help them associate your CV with someone of interest.

3. Appear professional

Don’t use your 10-year-old embarrassing Hotmail email address, which seemed hilarious at the time you set it up... Create a brand new, professional-sounding email address to apply for jobs from – it’ll do wonders for your image and your first impression. On the same note, make sure your voicemail isn’t just suited for friends, but also for any future employers who may be calling you up regarding jobs.

4. Check your online presence

What happens when you Google your name? Is the top result an photo of you passed out drunk in a field? Fun as university memories can be, this is not the sort of image you want to be giving to future employers who may well do some background research on you before offering you an interview. Go through any social media sites you use and make sure they’re safe to be seen. It’s a good idea to put your Facebook profile on the highest privacy settings to avoid employers being able to hunt you down. And if you haven’t done it already, create a Linked In account and make it as up to date as possible.

5. Get your CV style right

Do some research into what’s ‘fashionable’ in the recruitment world – certain styles of CV fall in and out of fashion, and you don’t want yours to look outdated. Should it be in reverse chronological order? Is it best to fit all the information onto one page of A4? Find out what’s currently in trend and tailor your CV accordingly.

6. Get your CV content right

Once you’ve worked out the best style, you need to work on the content. Here’s the tricky part – walking the fine line between confidence and arrogance. You want to give the best possible impression of yourself, without sounding like you’re bragging or exaggerating. Even if you don’t have a previous career, highlight any possible work-like experience you have that’s relevant. For example, if you were president of a university society, that’s great information that you should include as it most likely taught you skills such as leadership, teamwork, time management and budgeting. Striking the right balance can be difficult so ask your careers advisor or employed friends to read over your CV for you to make sure it reads well and that you haven’t made any silly mistakes.

7. Write a good cover letter

CV done? Good. On to the cover letter! This is where you get to introduce yourself. Use it to explain the relevant points of your CV in more detail, talk about why you’re such a good fit for the company and make yourself memorable, so they think of you when organising interviews.

8. Prepare for the job interview

And finally – the job interview. One thing many people forget is that you need to research the role and the company prior to the interview. Don’t over flatter but do make sure they’re aware you’re interested in the company and not just a paycheck. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately (if in doubt, formal wear is always a good option) and arrive early so you have time to find where you’re going and compose yourself in advance of the interview.

Do you need the perfect job?

Don’t get too hung up on getting that perfect job straight away. Apply for the jobs you really want, but also apply for jobs you could do well. Paid employment will look better than a gap in your work history, and you can continue to apply to the jobs you want whilst working somewhere you don’t intend to stay. It’s usually easier to find a job when you are already gainfully employed.

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