Career advice for graduates

You’re qualified, you’re keen and you’re ready to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder.

But where should you start your journey into the world of professional employment? Is a job just a job or should you be more selective about where you take that all-important first step?

Finding your feet (and your fit) in a professional workplace can be a challenge and while the call of the almighty dollar might seem like the most important factor, experience has taught me there’s more to consider when it comes to identifying your ideal workplace.

  1. Think big picture, not big dollars
    It’s easy to be attracted to the biggest names and salaries on offer but as a graduate, the only big thing you need to be looking for is opportunities to learn and gain experience. Questions to consider include; does your potential employer have a comprehensive training program? What are the company’s growth projections for the coming years? Is the business looking to expand or branch into new services that could offer you unique experience? Remember to think beyond what you want right now, to what you hope to gain from your first few years on the job. Does this employer really have the opportunities you’re looking for to build a strong foundation for your career?
  2. Dig a little deeper
    The value you place on work-life balance, teamwork and workplace culture will determine what kind of organization you’re best suited to and will be happy to work within. Don’t underestimate the importance of finding a workplace you enjoy… you’ll be spending a lot of time in it! Analyse the company’s website and social media channels to understand their values, brand, client base, workplace culture and personality. If the thought of working in that business doesn’t excite you or you feel like it’s not a good fit, trust your gut and move on.
  3. Be brave and resilient
    Don’t be put off by job advertisements that stipulate you must have certain qualifications or experience to apply. Most employers are willing to overlook certain criteria if you’re outstanding in other areas. That being said, if you do happen to lack certain skills, put extra effort into your application and be sure to list any experience or qualities that make you a unique candidate. Never be afraid to send in your CV. While you won’t be successful in every job you apply for (sorry, it’s a fact), each knock back provides you with a chance to refine your resume and develop your resilience, making you a stronger candidate for the next position.
  4. Learn from anyone and everyone
    Not every organization will be structured to provide you with a formal mentorship. As a new employee you should take the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the organization and industry from EVERYONE you come into contact with. Be humble, respectful and appreciate the knowledge, experience and expertise of your new colleagues, regardless of their job title. From the office junior to the senior partner, there’s something to be learnt from everyone in the office.
  5. Let your work speak for itself
    Too many graduates are concerned with ‘networking’ online or over drinks and canapés instead of focusing on the one crucial factor that can make or break your professional reputation; results. The quality of your work has the potential to boost you up the corporate ladder or knock you off it entirely. During the early days of your career mistakes are inevitable (you’re only human), but it’s how hard you’re willing to work in order to learn, improve and deliver great results that will get word of mouth flowing and build your reputation as a valued employee with true potential. Have a heads down attitude and let your work speak for itself.
  6. Drive your own career
    At the risk of sounding harsh, your manager’s day to day role does not consist solely of ensuring your career progresses along nicely. While it’s fair to expect support from your superior, it’s also important to take responsibility for your own career and proactively steer it in the direction you want to go. Think you’re ready for a pay rise? Keen to tackle more challenging jobs? Find your voice and learn to communicate your needs and expectations. The ability to articulate what you want and why you believe you should get it, is a valuable skill in any career.
  7. Grow with gratitude
    Last but most certainly not least, never forget the people who’ve helped you along the way. In the fast paced and competitive job market of today, gratitude seems like somewhat of a lost art but the truth is, we all owe something to a person who went the extra mile to give us a helping hand at one time or another. People who take the time to help you learn and who share their knowledge and experience are invaluable to both your personal and professional growth. Always take the time to say thank you.

Starting your career is an exciting time and often the opportunities seem infinite. But by taking the time to identify where you really want to go and which employer is best equipped to help you get there, you’ll start your journey on the right path from day one.

If you’re considering a graduate role with us, we suggest visiting our careers page to find out more about our culture and hear from our staff first-hand about what it’s really like to be part of the RS team. If we sound like a great fit for you, we look forward to reading your CV. If not? We wish you all the best in your new career.

Dan Gabbett

Posted in Blog