‘We graduates need to stop whingeing — and start working’


Stop waiting to be rescued Like most people who graduate with a non-vocational degree, it took me a while to realise that nobody was going to hire me on the merits of my degree alone – or guide me to the right path – but also that this wasn’t the end of the world.

Discipline yourself I spent a long summer of trawling through uninspiring job adverts with no relevance to my skills or interests before I realised I’d need to apply the same discipline and effort to job hunting that I’d applied to my academic studies. The sooner you understand this, the better.

Don’t rely on careers advisers With most of them living on another planet, it’s up to us to do the research and come up with a focused strategy, rather than indiscriminately sending of piles of CVs to the few employers that contact the careers services or those which advertise their vacancies widely.

Take control As lonely and hopeless as job-hunting can feel, you aren’t alone and there is hope. If you’re in a hole, you can dig yourself out. Stop expecting other people to sort your life out, take charge — and build an action plan.

See the ‘big picture’ This is a time of great change for many industries. Some are evolving at a rapid pace, some are in sharp decline — whilst other completely new industries are springing up. It’s vital to see your job hunt in the context of world of work around us — and think about where you might fit in. In other words, where are your skills in the greatest demand?

Stay flexible From my research I learned that virtually no in-house translation positions exist anymore and jobs are rarely advertised. Instead of panicking, I accepted that my first job after uni would look a bit different than I expected it to — and embraced the challenge of making my own opportunities.

Understand employers I also realised I needed to wise up to what recruiters are looking for — and taught myself skills that no-one teaches at university. For example, I learned how to talk to people in my industry and to see recruitment from the employer’s perspective, not just my own.

Get out there Really engaging with your job hunt means going beyond sitting at home searching on the internet. I joined a professional body, phoned translators and asked them frank questions about their work, contacted translation agencies to find out how the recruit and what they are looking for – and attended an industry conference.

Whatever you do, know why you’re doing it I decided to do a Masters in translation to gain some vocational skills but I made sure this was an informed decision — not a wild stab in the dark because I was panicking. Right from the start, I was 100% realistic that it was my responsibility to get the most out of the course. Further study in itself was not going to help me get a job — I was going to have to do that myself. I set myself goals for the year and even drew up a mock version of my CV of how I wanted it to look in a year’s time, to keep myself motivated.

Don’t feel restricted You have more options than you think you do. The universities push the big graduate schemes on us as if that’s all that’s out there – but the truth is that graduates could go into any number of industries. I now realise that a structured graduate scheme – for so many of us the Holy Grail when we finish university – wouldn’t have been right for me.