So picture the scene: a bright, ambitious and well-educated individual has worked hard, from the age of 5 no less, in applying themselves throughout school and university on the basis that academic achievement combined with an inquisitive mind and positive outlook will be enough to secure them entry in to the esteemed arena of professional and, hopefully, well paid work.
So what if the aforementioned individual now finds themselves ejected from the education system deep in the pit of a global recession fighting for what they may have originally perceived as lowly jobs, only to be told that they are over-qualified for it and are therefore of little interest? Alternatively, more exciting or competitive positions, if indeed they can be found, will insist on relevant work experience. All very good if only you could get it, right?
The modern day graduates very own catch-22. You can’t convince people you want to start at the bottom, although that is technically where you are, as the job may not be perceived to be a graduate role, or you are overlooked for a graduate entry-level role because there are others on the job market that have gained that first invaluable bit of experience.
Despite this, with the right approach and mind-set it is possible to secure or even create opportunities. Because despite the impact of the recession meaning fewer jobs, employers, unless entirely in the doldrums, are always looking for fresh and engaging talent. The rudimentary fact is employers need staff for two very basic reasons – to make them money or to save them money. No matter how high up, low down, creative, or process-driven, if working in the commercial sector then all roles will come in to one of these two categories. What you need to do is impress a potential employer with how you might be able to help them. If you can convince them that you can save them money or make them money then you become a recession-proof asset.
This may mean circumnavigating the traditional route in to employment such as employment agencies or advertised positions by going to companies directly. This approach will not only help to get you and your message across but will gain you brownie points for showing initiative and creativity. Research the company you are going to approach, and, crucially, try to contact a senior figure in the area you wish to work in rather than an HR department. It could be you have an idea that you could put in to presentation form and send to them. Always remember that you have to display any innovation or ideas in a way that makes them see how you could be valuable for them.
Be prepared to present yourself as a brand, almost as a product yourself. We’ve discussed that academics and waiting for a job opportunity to make itself known to you are not enough, and that originality and pro-activity will help towards achieving your goal of employment; what you need to be able to present is an attractive proposition when someone does take an interest. Make sure your online reputation is spotless – Facebook, if not for public consumption, should be entirely private and all other social media outlets should be up to date, professional and sit within the vein of your chosen industry. Use Twitter to link to relevant articles and show insightful opinions and sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date.
Finally, you may wish to consider creating your own enterprise. This needn’t necessarily take lots of capital, either. It’s a true saying that you make your own luck in life, and whilst that may seem harder to hear in a recession, it’s often these circumstances that make it even truer.
The article was written on behalf of OCVC.