Graduation is approaching and you are excited to jump into the real world and start being a member of the workforce. You are probably eager to apply what you have learned in your academic background in terms of theories and practical knowledge, and are passionate about the degree you are about to complete or have already completed.
That is the case for each and every one of us as we approach graduation season. However, the hard truth out there is; landing your dream job as soon as you graduate may not be as easy as you thought.
There are some of us who have been lucky enough to land the dream job as soon as they throw out the cap on graduation day. The other group, to whom I personally relate, might have a couple of months of a gap between graduation and employment. Let me assist you on how to deal with the gap efficiently, we have all been through that, we have done some mistakes that we have learned from and would love to pass on those tips and advices to you.
I would recommend you to start by doing your market research, find out what trends are happening and what companies are hiring. Is it what you want? Look more into the industry and read more about the industry, in terms of vacancies, salaries, turnover rate, reviews and feedbacks from current and former employees.
Don’t take the value of research for granted. You have to do your portion of hard work because we all know that the academic degree on its own is never enough, though I salute you for going through all difficulties to complete it. Education gives you the theoretical part of what you need to know, but what about the skills and competencies part? Where do you gain this from? And how do you even know what they are? During your gap phase before starting the job, that is the time where you gain the skills.
There are some real world skills you need to gain and some strategies you need to master before starting your real jobs. These are things you might have never learned through books and school and they include:
1. Effective Networking
Right before you graduate or just as soon as you graduate, you need to learn the tools of effective networking, and trust me on this, networking does magic! Learn how to dress professionally and have a firm handshake in formal situations, attend networking events, and be on the go to meet new people. One secret I would like to share here is, networking reveals unadvertised job postings! And who knows? It might be one that you dream of! Check out my favorite Career Talk Episode from Bayt.com on how to better engage with your network.
2. Keep Working
You might have had a part time job as a barista or as waiter while you were completing your degree. Keep working in that job, and try to have it as a full time job to keep up with your expenses until you land your dream job. You will eventually reach a point that you are fully independent from your parents and that on its own is a great skill to have. Maybe you own a car or you are planning for that thing you have always wanted to do or own by the time you are 30, so keep this chance available to save up for your goals.
3. Consider other options
For a fresh graduate who is struggling to start right away with a full-time job, I would recommend starting an internship. Internships are great for developing your skills in terms of communication, networking, interpersonal skills, time management and much more. These skills are important in every job you will take from this day up until you retire or maybe after. Have an open mind to start as an intern or as a trainee. Also, if you prove yourself, your skills and you show progress you might land an offer in that same company as sometimes employers would want to recruit an insider who is familiar with the company’s operations, products and services.
4. Never hide the truth
As you are applying here and there and time is passing, you will reach a point when you are faced to explain the gaps in between your graduation date and your employment. Never make things up to fill in the gap, which is a huge mistake. Construct a professional and a strong CV with what you have, and in the cases when you think that there will be a gap that needs to be filled, get out and gain some real skills that will work in your favor. Perhaps you can enroll in a class or do some volunteer work. There are many options to fill these short time periods.
5. Be flexible and explore wider opportunities
Some people tighten their job search to a specific city or a specific industry. When you are facing the gap between graduation and unemployment with no luck of landing that job you wanted, you might want to be a bit more flexible. Search in other cities, maybe somewhere close by or maybe even in a different country. You might even find your passion in different industries and not specifically in that one you held on for so long. You might even want to start out as a volunteer to explore more possibilities.
6. Remain active
Don’t let that rejection hold you back from applying. You must stay in the loop and up to date with the industry trends. Things change daily, you skip a day or two, then it goes to a week or two and suddenly you find yourself lost about where the market is going. Read more about the industry; check what they are looking for, how does their perfect candidate looks like and what are you missing from being that person? Stay updated and never lose track even when the road seems full of hurdles. You will get through them all.
Overall, during the gap period between your graduation day and finding the job, work on yourself and never stop learning. You might even learn some new things about yourself that you haven’t explored before. They say, ‘everyone you meet teaches you something new’ so never stop networking either and boost your skills. Develop skills needed by your target employer or those that help you to be better prepared for the job. So now, let me wish you the best of luck in your journey, you can close this gap as all of us have done before, and remember to check our blog about ‘Finding Your First Job in the Middle East and North Africa’.
By Haneen Kawar
This article originally appeared in Bayt.com. This article and all other intellectual property on Bayt.com is the property of Bayt.com. Reproduction of this article in any form is only permissible with written permission from Bayt.com.