What I’ve Learnt in the First Six Months of Being A Graduate

Next Wednesday marks six months since I graduated and boy have those months flown by. I’ve celebrated a handful of birthdays and holidays; I’ve been to Sydney, had dozens of coffees, seen lots of movies…you get the idea.

But in those six months I’ve also applied to more jobs than I can keep track of across an array of areas and have certainly had my fair share of interviews. To no avail, I’m still unemployed. Well, I work casually as a receptionist but the hours are far and few between, so I might as well be unemployed.

I know I’m rambling on but I’m getting there.

Anyways, the other day I read an article that said that 30% of university graduates, roughly 65,000 across the country, will be jobless after the first four months of graduation. Well as one of those 65,000 graduates, I’m here to share what I’ve learnt about job searching in that time frame.

So if you graduated last year or intend to graduate next month, in December or any other point hereafter, I’m here to impart my wisdom in the hope that you won’t feel alone in this cruel world that is the post-graduate life.

  1. First and foremost, get used to the feeling of rejection (sorry but you’ll have to). Throughout my years of job searching I’ve had far more “no’s” than any other response, and along with this you’ll have to get used to the idea that, depending on the job, you may be over- or under-qualified. I know it sucks. Who ever thought that being over-qualified would be a bad thing? Well not me when I received that piece of paper that had “Bachelor” emblazoned on it. But this is just one of the many post-grad life struggles.
  2. “It’s not you, it’s me”. Sometimes it is just them. You’ve applied, had an interview and they’ve given you a yes. But then, due to unforeseen circumstances, they can’t have you. I’ve had this happen to me twice since March and while it’s frustrating, I’ve learnt that unfortunately some things are out of my control. Maybe there’s a lack of finances on their end or they’ve been put in an awkward position by external pressures, either way it still sucks.
  3. Don’t bottle up your emotions. It can be very self-deprecating going for interview after interview only to not get the job, so talk it out with someone. Whether it’s a best friend, family member or that random person you’ve been hitting it off with on Tinder, let them know how you’re feeling. And likewise, if you’re that person on the other end and you know someone struggling to get a job, make sure to ask them if they’re okay. Even if they say they don’t want to talk, the acknowledgment that you care and you’re there for them is sometimes all that is needed.
  4. Confidence is key. In other words, “fake it till you make it”. Even if it’s not your ideal job or you’re not feeling particularly great that day, go into that interview and exude a confidence that would make the likes of Edna Mode proud.

  1. It’s okay to lie. It’s taken me a few interviews to figure this one out. Have a big trip planned for Christmas? Well, best not to tell them about it in the interview. They don’t need to know about it just yet and as much as it shouldn’t be a deciding factor, unfortunately employers take it into consideration when hiring. They don’t want to hire someone who’s just going to spend more time than allocated off gallivanting around the world. So best to keep this one to yourself.
  2. Learn to fight off the demons. After too many “no’s” you start to doubt yourself and your abilities and not long after does the self-doubt and the notion that you’re not good enough set in. You need to learn to fight it, no matter how hard it is, because if you don’t it’ll start eating away at you and lead you down a path you really don’t want to go on.
  3. Don’t tell everyone you’re going for an interview. If you get the job after then by all means shout it from the rooftops, but if you don’t, you don’t want to be stuck with the unenviable task of having to inform everyone you didn’t get it. It only adds to the self-deprecation. If you want to tell people, keep it to a small group like a parent and sibling or one or two friends. They’ll be there to support you if the answer is a no.
  4. Follow your favourite companies on social media. Some companies don’t even bother advertising jobs through websites like Seek or CareerOne, opting to advertise on their site or through social media instead. So follow the company and some of their employees, especially the ones who work in the field you’re interested in. And don’t be afraid to engage them in conversation. It’s a great way to build up a rapport and get to know a bit about them and what they do.
  5. Add your social media accounts to your resume. You can exclude Facebook here because I think that’s all too personal but by adding your Twitter and Instagram, they get to see what you’re like as a person. It could be what snags you that interview.
  6. Don’t put all your eggs in the one basket. This applies to economics as much as it does with any other aspect of life. Keep your options open by applying for jobs in multiple but similar fields that you’re interested in. If you’re into PR, look out for marketing or communications jobs. It might not be what you initially want but anything’s a foot in the door.
  7. Use this time to build up your skill set. If you have a casual or part-time job and want to stay in touch with what’s happening in your field, take a short course in something you’re passionate about or look for short-term opportunities like an internship. It’ll give you something to do and it’ll build up your resume. Even more of a bonus.
    Pic of Twitter profile
  8. And finally, if all else fails go it alone. Four days ago I started up my own small business – Blank Canvas Social Media Consulting. Why? Well, I’ve quickly come to realise that the graduate life is a competitive one to live and I wanted to do something that would let me flex my creative muscles, capitalise on my knowledge and skill set, and give me the opportunity to engage in the Brisbane media world. After all, I did spend four and a half years at university and what a waste of time it would have been if I didn’t do something with my degree.

So whether you’re a graduate who’s faced the same woes as I, or you’re graduating soon and are worried about what lies ahead, I hope I’ve been of some help.

If you’re a small business in Brisbane and are looking for some assistance in the social media department, feel free to contact me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or email – bmackenzie91@hotmail.com.

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4 comments

  1. I graduated nearly a year ago and I experienced all the emotions you mentioned. Unfortunately getting a job doesn’t always make your life better. I started working three weeks after graduation and I enjoy my job but I still don’t feel completely fulfilled. I think graduates need realistic expectations about what it’s like to have a professional job. You don’t use most of your skills and job titles are deceiving.

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    1. It’s an interesting topic because as a student you’re given the statistics before you graduate but they don’t tell you about the emotions that go with it. You’re effectively on your own once you grab that certificate. And it kind of sucks either way. If you get a job, like you said, it might not leave you completely fulfilled and then you feel the same thing if you don’t get one.

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  2. Ahh I’ve got 5 years (thats if a miracle happens where I don’t fail my subjects) to go until I’ve graduated.

    Really insightful 🙂

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    1. Trust me, those 5 years will fly by. I honestly don’t know where the last 17 years of my life have gone. Feels weird now to not be in a constant state of learning. Although, I guess life is one big lesson.

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