Treat your career as a series of stepping stones

“With a little planning, every role you take, contact you make or project you complete can help edge you towards your dream job

Graduates: Don’t hold out for the dream role straight away, but treat your career as a series of stepping stones, with each role enhancing your skills and experience. Also be open and seize career-making opportunities as they occur rather than sticking rigidly to a mapped-out career.

Develop skills

A recent Career Talk highlighted that graduates are perceived as lacking in communication, critical thinking and business skills.So, take on roles for their skill-building value. Even non- graduate  roles in retail or service industries build customer-facing and problem-solving skills — useful additions to any CV.Many recruiters says,”They look for candidates who display certain competencies, including creative problem-solving, teamwork and collaboration skills. One oversight applicants can make, is not providing evidence of their transferable skills. They don’t always connect the fact that their experience from working in a shop or a cafe is client facing experience, from which they can show us examples of their client focus. Charity work, sports challenges or other activities that applicants might not at first consider relevant for their CV can be effectively used to display team working skills, adaptability and so on.”

Gain experience

It’s generally easier to land a new role while currently employed, but just as importantly, a variety of experience gives you a deeper fund of achievement stories to impress employers, especially if you’ve treated each role as an opportunity to excel. Don’t worry about how seemingly unrelated jobs look on your CV — experience is better than no experience. Emphasise the value and relevance of each role.

Don’t wait for opportunities to materialise. Plug an experience gap by creating your own projects — devise or refresh a marketing or social media strategy, for example. Set up a very small company, and learn how to market and sell your talents. You’ll develop commercial savvy as well as proving your motivation and work ethic — attractive qualities for employers as well as a good talking-point in interviews.

Consider all options

Move to where the opportunities are. Don’t neglect smaller companies, and extend your options beyond careers traditionally associated with your degree subject. You can often apply the skills learned in your course to other disciplines.

Build your network

Stay in touch with previous managers and colleagues, participate in conversations in social media, and meet offline to cement personal relationships. Mine your university careers service for contacts, and always follow up on leads.

Take control of your career progression

Periodically assess your goals. Are you still on track, or should you change direction? For example, if you eventually aim to work in the public sector, consider applying for positions in growth industries such as banking or accountancy, switching sector once conditions improve.

It is also a good idea to find mentors to guide you at each stage of your career. Ask your university careers service about mentoring schemes, or approach members of professional organisations, role-models within your company, or business contacts of friends and family for coaching and support. Choose someone in a position you aspire to, and whose advice and constructive criticism you’re prepared to take. In return, you’re likely to find someone who’ll take an interest in watching you grow in your career.

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