Many countries are now showing signs of strong recovery from the world-wide recession. Others, like Ireland, Portugal and Greece still face many challenges; and in the UK? Well, I heard we could be looking forward to real recovery in 2012 – who knows?
For anyone who left school or university in 2008 – 2010, or who was re-entering the workforce after a career break, the challenges have been potentially overwhelming and there are many who have not been able to get started on the career they really want.
Rewind to the summer of 1976. I was leaving college with a Teachers Certificate and a B.Ed degree, knowing that only 50% of that year’s new teachers were going to get jobs in teaching. Many of us felt that the degrees we collected on graduation day were not worth the paper they were written on. After two hundred applications and maybe six interviews I saw the writing on the wall and realised that I needed to rethink my career. I travelled twenty miles from Warrington to Liverpool for a meeting with a careers adviser who told me to take a clerical job. Pretty soon I did.
It’s been a long and winding road since then with many more obstacles. No-one ever said life would be easy; your’s isn’t so why should mine be? The Americans have a saying, “If life hands you a bunch of lemons, make lemonade”.
In the nineties I trained as a counsellor and did that for eight years before the road twisted again. In 2005 I became a careers adviser in a college; it seemed like a good way to help others to have a smoother start to their career. Now I am an independent career coach, attempting to set up a new business and seeking clients.
So what do I know now that would have helped me then?
1. Make informed decisions
If I had known myself (personality, aptitudes, interests) better I would never have chosen teaching as a career in the first place.
2. Take time to check out your decision
If you can’t get a job right now – great! You have time to get work experience in a variety of settings. Find out what kind of work suits you best and in what kind of setting; small office, retail, working with money/numbers, engineering. If you think the options are bewildering get someone to help you to explore them.
3. Get the right qualifications
Many new graduates say that they did the wrong degree subject. This may mean that they did the wrong thing for them or they did a subject that has little value in today’s employment market.
4. Seek ALL the available opportunities
Don’t just wait for a vacancy to appear.
5. Be the best candidate
If you are on the right career path you are half way there. Now all you have to do is to send in the best CV/application and covering letter and be the best prepared, most focused candidate at the interview.
Helen Marriott is an independent career coach based near Bridgwater, Somerset. She specialises in helping new graduates and women returning to employment to understand the employment market and maximise their job seeking potential. Her website is www.clearvisioncareers.co.uk.