The world of employment is a strange and difficult place for box-fresh graduates to navigate.
Emerging, triumphantly clutching a degree from a protracted, 15+ year stint in education to plunge straight into an icy cold job market can rock you to your core.
Six years ago, in 2008, the world of employment became even more hostile, thanks to the global economic crisis. It’s claimed that those who graduate in a recession will change jobs more frequently, settle for jobs which may not necessarily fit and are subject to a large initial loss of earnings.
It is even harder for females; a Harvard Study found in 2010 that women only made 77 cents to every dollar a man made. But there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the recession, and those who graduate today have much to take from their steely, recession-proofed predecessors.
It’s okay to go it alone
Since the recession, self-employment has boomed. It seems rather than accept the dearth of opportunity that a weakened job market presents, some have taken their future into their own hands, and struck out as sole traders to offset the lack of jobs.
The flexibility and freedom of self-employment is appealing to independent spirits, and mirrors many of the skills that university education graduates have to possess to do well in a range of disciplines. The incidence of self-employment is generally higher among men, and in non-specialized sectors like construction work and taxi driving.
There’s nothing wrong with a stop gap
Let’s face it: if you graduate at the ripe old age of 24, you still have at least forty years to develop an incredible, rewarding career before you retire. It’s worth considering alternatives to plunging into full-time employment immediately after graduation. Whether it’s boosting your CV with an internship, tackling a Master’s degree or just taking a few months out to travel, time is likely on your side.
It can be about luck
It’s never pleasant to hear that you have no control over your career prospects, but depending on when you graduate, your opportunities will either improve or diminish. You have no control over this.
The state of the job market has considerable impact on your employability, and with 11.5 million fewer job holders than there were in 2007 before the recession began, there is still a considerable way to go before it fully recovers. This doesn’t make getting a job impossible; it just means you have to shine more than the other candidates.
Learn to stand out in a crowd
Come to an interview not just prepared, but armed with new ideas that will make your new employer want to know more. If your job is creative in nature, go above and beyond the interview brief; plan out future campaigns, show off your talent, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If it’s more analytical, an intelligent and rigorous approach to your preparation might win the day.
Having lived through job insecurity, high incidences of temping and an increase in self-employment, the savvy candidates of today should know that finding a job in 2014 is undeniably easier than it was five years ago, but if the recession has taught us anything, it’s not to settle for less when we do.
Emma Jenkins is a freelance writer who majored in Economics. She adores her Daschund, Oscar, and can be found on long walks with him every day.