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5 Things that Graduates Should Know When Looking for a Job

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Job prospects for the graduates of 2014 are the brightest we’ve seen since the recession.   In the UK for example, statics show and 8.7 per cent rise in the number of graduate vacancies, taking employment levels back to where they were before the recession began.  This means that there are more opportunities than ever for graduates to get started on the career ladder.


1.    Unpaid internships

Unpaid internship opportunities are flooding job boards.  However, they are becoming increasingly controversial.  On one hand, they can be stepping-stones to full-time jobs and a valuable training experience as employers are increasingly looking for experience and skills over academic achievement for the jobs they offer.  On the other hand, they are seen to be replacing paid jobs, as more and more graduates are willing to work for free.  This could make it harder to break into the paid labour market.  Also, they favour students whose parents can afford to support them, making it even harder for graduates from low-income backgrounds to break the mould.

Job Coconut’s tip:

If you are considering an unpaid internship, make sure it’s a “win-win” situation for you and the employer. In return for your work efforts, ensure that you receive adequate training and education.  Upon successful completion of the internship there should be   scope for a permanent paid position.  In addition, check out your country’s employment laws regarding internships.  For example, in the UK national minimum wage legislation says that interns doing real work during set hours are entitled to payment.


2. Masters’ degree – are they worth it?

Masters’ are enticing as they offer another year of college life plus a chance for further study, enhancing the skills acquired at undergraduate level.   However, what some people forget is that education is a business, and like other businesses it is in financial trouble and liable to be the next sector to suffer a “bubble burst”.  Faced with falling incomes and government support along with rising debt etc. universities are turning to new customers i.e. students for new sources of income.  During economic downturns people are vulnerable and seek to improve their chances of getting a good job.  For many, further education is seen as the answer (and an opportunity to wait out the storm).

Job Coconut’s Tip: 

A master’s is a huge commitment.  It is important that you ask yourself these three questions:

  • Can you afford it?  A master’s can be expensive.  Make sure that you are adequately financed as to avoid an unsustainable level  of debt.  Research financial support options available to you e.g. bank loans and government funding/ grants. 
  • Will it enhance your job prospects?  Before you enrol research your options thoroughly. 
  • Are you up for the challenge?  A master’s can be a huge step in terms of workload and requires increased self-motivation than a bachelor’s degree.  In addition, be prepared for the new university environment, which can be unsettling for students used to their old universities.
  • Is the time right?  Could I benefit by having a few years work experinece under my belt first?  


3. Is the industry you have chosen an endangered species?

The digital revolution has turned many industries upside down.  The music, book publishing, and DVD rental industries are just a few examples.  Some industries are on the brink of extinction, such as the photofinishing industry which saw the demise of the iconic Eastman Kodak company in 2012. 

Job Coconut’s tip:

Give your chosen industry a health check.  If it looks like it might be in serious decline in 5 years perhaps look into new job industries.    


4.  Graduate programmes – not always the be all and end all

Many graduates get caught up in a wave of panic in their final year, focusing their entire job application efforts on the big graduate schemes.  No doubt, many graduate schemes with large organisations offer fantastic starting salaries, benefits and career progression. However, the competition is intense, with application numbers hugely outweighing jobs available.

Job Coconut's tip:

Cast your net wider.  Consider less-established options such as SMEs where the bulk of graduate vacancies lie.  Thousands of SMEsare desperate to hire bright young graduates.  It might be more difficult to track them down due to low advertising budgets, but they could be worth going the extra mile in terms of research. 


5. Google yourself

A growing number of employers are now using Google for screening job candidates, particularly their for social media presence.  What you say and do online (or not, if you don’t have a presence at all) could prevent you from getting an interview.  Common reasons for rejecting candidates include poor grammar and spelling, inappropriate photos, information about drinking/drug use and lying about qualifications/experience. 

Job Coconut's tip:

Make sure your online footprint says the right things about you.  Google yourself and check what comes up.  There are many methods that you can employ to clean up your online presence.   For example, use Facebook’s new “view as” button (found under “edit profile” settings) to see how non-friends see you – and adjust the privacy settings accordingly. 


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