School Leavers - how to job hunt and find meaningful work
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
In this section we will focus on students entering the workforce, fresh after graduation from college, University or the completion of their ROSA (Year 10) or HSC (Year 12). As students embark on their career journey, it can be a daunting task, often without a plan or a map.
Parents are regularly exasperated because their budding adults have no idea how to make the leap from the education system to the real world of work. Adolescents cannot market themselves for a new job without experience or skills, but they cannot gain either without getting a job first. Many exmployers demand experience first therefore this creates a frustrating loop for young graduates and their parents. Parents know their young one has value and motivation, but marketing their value without experience seems impossible.
Or is it?
It's not impossible. Many employers who are ready to employ fresh graduates are well aware they have little to no experience and do not place unrealistic expectations on them. It all comes down to the approach and attitude towards employment. Instead, they expect a modicum of commitment.
As a student, the best suggestion is to is get involved in volunteer work. Any involvement in school events, community events, or volunteer work shows your dedication and commitment. Offering to do odd jobs (babysitting or mowing lawns) gives you a leg up. You can also volunteer in areas of interest such as your local church, or the local nursery. You could also join clubs - music clubs, social clubs, do dance lessons, or art classes. You never know what these experiences will lead to and what connections you will make along the way. These opportunities give you experience, skills, and show future employers that you can be trusted to bring something great to the table, even if you are inexperienced. Such efforts are indicative of your commitment.
If you have any of these examples under your belt, talk about your specific contributions and achievements when marketing yourself. You are not limited to only including paid employment opportunities! Describe the roles you played, even if you were not paid. Describe what an opportunity it was for you, how you learned from it, and what skills you developed as a result. As the student, you are a product the employer is investing in. So your job is to market yourself and show the customer (the company/employer) that you meet their needs.
Remember that as you are graduating, so too are thousands of other students. They are your active competition. In addition, you may be applying for roles which are not exclusively targeting graduates, therefore you are also in competition with candidates who already bring practical hands-on work experiences. You need to stand out from the crowd when marketing yourself.
Consider the following tips on how to build up experiences and bulk out your resume with impressive content! :
Don’t be afraid to ask around for jobs the old fashioned way. Not every job makes it to a website or social media platform.
Offer to do some trial work for free (for a limited time), just to prove your worth - whether it ends up in a job offer or not, you can still add this to your resume!.
Offer up references early - use Teachers, Lecturers, Family Friends and anyone else who knows you well!
Don’t turn away from a low paying role. In the beginning take on whatever you can get!
If you are pursuing a specialised or creative career, offer to do some work for family and friends - take photos to build up your portfolio!
Show that you are committed to personal development by offering to enrol in courses in line with the business at hand.
Be enthusiastic and interesting. Companies are more likely to hire you if you are well-liked
Use a Professional Resume Writer to create something unique and creative
Become a master at interviews by booking an ‘Interviewing Coaching’ session.
Practice proper body language techniques, tone, and facial expressions.
Always write a tailored cover letter when applying for jobs - every job
Don't get disheartened - get proactive! When you don't hear back, follow up and get feedback!
Overall, these are all strategies you can use when hitting the job market.
Some might work better than others, but either way, you must try.
The right job is out there!
Best of luck!