Career Planning for Recent Graduates

Written by Amanda Ansell

Taking a scatter gun approach to job hunting when you are a graduate laden with student debt and desperate to get on the bottom rung of the ladder is tempting, but seldom yields the best long term results. Taking your time to clearly define your career goals and aspirations allows you do to clearly identify the best entry route into a career and properly notch up the experiences you need to be set on the best path. Here are the main areas we advise graduates to consider: 

Take the time to define what you are looking for. 

Many graduates embark on careers only to realise that whilst they love the job, the long term prospects or accompanying lifestyle are not what they envisaged. Establishing from the outset your motivating factors will facilitate greater fulfilment. Consider the limitations or opportunities of certain careers in terms of earning potential, travel opportunities, flexibility, work/life balance, future study and professional qualifications. 

Use your skills. 

Consider how you can best deploy your skills to help achieve your goals. Think in terms of skills you have acquired such as languages or experience living or working amongst other cultures, or qualifications that can enhance your opportunities in a given area. For example, if you are looking for a career in marketing but you have a science degree, start to consider how you that would give you a competitive edge for entry level marketing roles in scientific focused organisations. 

Do your research. 

As with any plan, you need to understand the market you will be operating in and fully understand every aspect of a career. Ask questions about the qualifications needed at different stages of a career, research the locations and companies that have the most demand for the skills and keep an eye on market trends. Most importantly, approach people who already work in the field you are interested in through friends and family, college alumni and networking. They will have the most useful advice. 

Further education, professional qualifications and training courses. 

Embarking on further study whilst working is a necessity for some careers, whereas for others it is a way to hone your skills into a specialist sector. Before you sign up, take time to research the courses available and discuss with people within your chosen profession, which courses and which institutions best meet the required standards of the industry. Specific research into professional institutes and governing bodies will often yield the most helpful guidance, and many of these will have career advice services.