Firstly, let me start by saying that when I graduated university in 1992, New Zealand was in the grip of a dire recession and it was nigh on impossible to find a job. In fact, after 6 months I was eligible for a government funded course for ‘long term unemployed’ and trained as a receptionist (with my employer receiving subsidies for my employment).
When I moved to Christchurch, it was like starting over and eventually I tried a hairdressing apprenticeship (I got fired) and then eventually discovered the only way that I could get a job was to take my degree off my resume altogether.
I did an Arts degree, so it’s not like I had a clear job path on finishing Uni anyway, but I can honestly say that I never envisaged working in the recruitment industry when I did my degree. But I could not be happier, and the same goes for a number of my colleagues who have degrees from all over the world, in a wide range of majors.
According to this article in news.com, graduates in 2016 are finding it just as tough. And worse, they have a huge study debt behind them (I am one of those lucky ones who studied their degree when education was ‘free’, which means I am a wee bit old). Many, many graduates are struggling in casual and part time roles, waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
I can’t fix this for you. There are more people graduating university than ever, employers are either decreasing graduate intakes or, due to a glut of supply, set ridiculous criteria levels, limiting their graduate programmes to the crème de la crème, leaving your average student looking at a glorious future in retail.
What I can advise is this: be adaptable. If you went to university and specialised in wedding planning and you can’t find an appropriate job, think outside the square. Don’t be so fixated on doing what you thought you were going to do. Sometimes unexpected opportunities arise and you can end up on a far more exciting path than you imagined, and doing something you never considered (like recruitment).
Work hard. Employers see people who work hard. They value hard workers. Be reliable, be punctual and NEVER act like you are too good for the job that you doing, and if that’s folding t-shirts in your local jeans shop, remember, you are NOT better than that job. Working hard and being reliable might not pay big dollars, but it will guarantee a great reference when you want to move on.
Put your hand up. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you. If an employer has a project then put your hand up for it. Even if they decide against your application, they will remember that you asked.
Take advantage of what you are doing to grow within the company. I have a lovely friend who has a marketing degree. Whilst she was studying she worked in retail and kept working in it after she graduated. She’s smart, worked hard and worked long hours. By the time she finished with the company she had progressed to the merchandising level on a national basis and now has a career where she coordinates retail training for other companies.
The point is, she applied what she had learned in her degree and the confidence she had developed at university in a career which she never envisaged. She is now reaping the benefits.
I can’t promise you a job. But I do think if you take a deep breath and not focus on the career you thought you would have, maybe you will be lucky enough to find a career that brings you great, albeit, unexpected joy.
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