When you graduate from college, it is such a tumultuous roller coaster of emotions. The first few weeks after finishing my course work, I was ecstatic to be free from the academic bubble and excited to enter the workforce to pursue my dream occupation. Some of my friends were lucky enough to have scored graduate positions whilst still in their final semester of college. Unfortunately I hadn’t a job lined up after graduation, apart from my part-time retail position.
Although I knew going into job searching was not going to be easy, I didn’t quite comprehend the endless determination and hard work that are required on the path to finding work. As a 20-something ex-college student, who suddenly finds herself on the cusp of the workforce and searching for graduate or entry-level positions, this process is an unfamiliar, daunting and difficult period. While university prepares you for a lot of situations in the workforce it regularly forgets to mention the struggles and triumphs during the job search stage. Often there have been days when I feel unnoticed, overlooked and in the shadows of the thousands of other graduates. It is easy to feel eclipsed amongst other graduates, who have a similar degree or qualification, internship experience or employment history as yourself. But whilst job searching has been difficult, exhausting and beyond anything I imagined, I’ve learned a lot from the whole process. Here are five things myself and every other 20-something is likely to discover throughout their job searching.
Everyone is different
When I first started job searching I underestimated just how many other graduates are also on the hunt for a job. Meeting other graduates and candidates, from around the world, at recruitment and interviews makes your realize how similar you can be. However, whilst it is easy to recognize your similarities I’ve learned to appreciate my unique experiences and individual qualities. Everyone has a different background and story. Although, it is intimidating to be in a room full of other, talented and inspiring job searchers, recognizing your own gifts and endowments can help to give you the confidence, charisma and friendliness that recruiters are looking for in their candidates.
Good things truly do come to those who wait
Unlike university, with clear outlines, deadlines and schedules, periods of job searching can be ambiguous and indefinite. It may take you a few days, weeks or even months to find a position you are passionate about undertaking. I couldn’t wait to get into the workforce post university. My friends couldn’t believe how eager I was to get into the working world. However, job searching taught me that even with hard work, determination and a positive attitude sometimes things still don’t happen as fast as we’d have liked. But that is totally okay. Patience is definitely a virtue and an advantageous trait whilst job hunting.
Who you know is always important and networking really is key
Everyone throughout university always talks about networking. You are probably tired from hearing about the necessity of networking. Plus, for introverts like myself, I can’t think of anything more nerve raking then trying to network with key industry figures. My naturally awkward and shy nature cringes even hearing the word ‘network’ being uttered. However, whom you know will always be important in the job searching process. Luckily, I’ve discovered that social media and other online platforms are hugely beneficial as an alternative method of networking for introverted individuals. Connecting online with like-minded people whom you respect or whose career path you admire is a great way to start networking and help you gain insights into finding that dream job.
Rejection can be a positive thing
I’ve been rejected from my fair share of job applications but have learned throughout the job searching process that using this rejection and any constructive criticism to improve is critical during the search and can even be a positive thing. As an introvert, my quiet demeanor can look unattractive to employers who always seem to be on the search for bubbly, loud and extroverted individuals. However after every rejection I’ve slowly learned to challenge and better myself.
Sometimes the ‘big plan’ might not be the right plan for you after all
Okay, okay I admit I’m guilty of being an obsessive planner. I definitely enjoy being organized, making lists, creating tables and keeping a planner and diary. But being a 20-something job seeker has made me recognize the benefits of being able to veer off the path or not stick to a plan. The job market is crazy and unpredictable, heck; you are probably just as crazy and unpredictable. So realizing that sometimes goals, dreams and situations change was an important lesson I learned during the job searching process. Once I realized this notion I was more eager and motivated to apply for jobs outside my comfort zone. Eventually I discovered having this open mindset unlocked a number of jobs I hadn’t even known or thought out about prior.
Although being a 20-something job seeker is a tricky and unique process, searching for a job truly makes you appreciate your unique gifts, talents and is definitely a period of learning and evolving. Everyone aspires to find their calling in life and being open-minded, ambitious, hard-working and an active explorer is the first step in following your aspirations and goals. Good-luck all you job hunters!
[Image via Universal Pictures]