Transitioning from Academia into Employment

Transitioning from academia into employment for graduates

Are you one of the millions of young people looking to transition from academia into employment but unsure how to move forward? Have you got the ‘graduation blues’?

If this is your first foray into the world of work, after enjoying university life, for most people it is a scary situation. The dawn of reality! Regardless of whether you have any previous work experience, you have now reached one of the first milestones in your life and in order to make a successful transition into employment, there are several key questions that you must first ask yourself.

Be totally honest, otherwise you are likely to make key mistakes before you have even really started on your journey!

  1. How important is your degree to you in a future role or is it just something that you can utilise to give you a better chance of employment against the competition?
  2. Do you have any real idea of what job you would ideally like to do?
  3. Are you looking for a job (possibly any job to get you started) or a career?
  4. Have you researched the entry criteria?
  5. How aware are you of your marketability and what you have to offer?
  6. Do you know any contacts who might be able to network you in?
  7. Do you have an up to date CV that really sells you in the best light?
  8. Have you thought about what is important to you in your job?
  9. What type of organisation do you ideally want to work for?
  10. How far are you prepared to travel to work?

Before you can start down the road of making this key transition in your life, from academia into employment, you must first address these (and many more) key questions. Your answers will provide many clues as to what action you need to take to help you move forward.

10 top tips to make a successful transition from academia into employment

  1. Manage your transition like any project and develop a plan, as what gets measured gets done!
  2. Clearly define your goals, set realistic timescales to achieve them and review your plan on a regular basis, what is working, what isn’t, what additional help you will need and how you will access this
  3. Even if you can’t secure a full-time job, get part-time work, temporary work and as much work experience as possible, so you can show your tenacity and positive attitude to a potential employer
  4. Research, research, research. Use your skills from university life to establish as much as possible about specific jobs of interest, the organisation, the culture, the vision, the opportunities, the recruitment process, their competition and anything else that can put you ahead of the pack
  5. Learn how to sell and market yourself effectively by matching yourself to the job and organisation with your skills, attributes and attitude both in any job applications and interviews.
  6. If you know people who work where you would like to work or know people who know other people who work there, ask if they can get you an introduction or some initial work experience. Once you have a foot in the door it is so much easier to make an impact. This way you have a great opportunity to influence whether the employer offers you a full-time job
  7. Seek help and advice to get you the best possible CV, as this could make the difference between making the yes pile for an interview!
  8. Although it may go against the grain, be prepared to start ‘at the bottom’ and work your way up, especially if the employer only recruits via graduate schemes or internships
  9. There are many types of interviews nowadays. How well you plan, prepare and practice and how confident you come across will make the difference. Research how to win at video interviews, Skype interviews, telephone interviews, face to face formal interviews, group interviews and informal ‘coffee shop’ type interviews
  10. Ensure you have a backup plan in case ‘Plan A’ doesn’t work but remember persistence pays, providing you channel your energy in the right way!

For more information, Lin Preston is a leading Education & Career Coach with our specialist consultancy SMP Solutions (Career & People Development) Ltd, having helped hundreds of young people (and take away the stress from their parents!) to transition from academia into employment and make key education and career choices to get their careers off to the best possible start.

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