Succeeding as a Graduate in an Uncertain Job Market

I finally got the big break I wanted – a university acceptance letter! I became confident and ambitious because I believed that my career path had now been set in motion. With packed bags, I flew 10,260 km to the UK and landed in one of the world’s top business programmes. But, little did I know about the reality of the job market I had to face after graduation. Did you know that as many as 81% of students in the UK are unable to line up a job as soon as they graduate? I was no exception.

For me, job hunting while studying was difficult because I had to tackle Brexit in addition to assignments, presentations, and exams. And mental health? Let’s say that it was side-lined. Nevertheless, my first step in what felt like a 1000-mile journey began with the first job application and one application led to another. The most unnerving experience of this journey was that I made zero progress even after submitting my 154th job application.

I had to change tactics because the chances of getting a job looked minuscule – especially for an international student wanting a tier-2 sponsorship within a 6-month window. How do I get myself out there amongst job recruiters?

I decided to look away from online job applications and meet people and volunteer myself for freelance work. I decided to try my luck in the tech start-up space since the number of opportunities have been increasing since 2009. With a changed outlook, I grabbed an opportunity, and I put myself out there. That was the turning point for me.

By working, I was able to build my profile, expand my network, and gain insights into the job market – which otherwise would have been very hard to obtain. I soon found myself a few steps away from the doors of IN4 Group. Taking the last few steps meant meeting the condition that I had to upskill myself in technology and leadership. There are only a few companies that personally take an extended interest in their employees’ training and self-development. Also, as I enjoy learning, the condition laid out looked more like an opportunity rather than a challenge. Furthermore, my learning was accelerated because I was tasked to solve real-world problems in the manufacturing sector.

Once within the IN4 Group’s network, I gained the perspective of an employer looking for talent. I found that there many opportunities that are waiting for graduates like me. Ironically, one of the hardest challenges for 72% of employers is to find the right candidate. I found this situation ironic because 8 months ago I was on the other side, struggling to get a job.

I think that problems exist in both worlds – graduates struggling to get a job and employers toiling to find the right talent – because they remain disconnected. The right bridge does not yet connect these two worlds. There are hundreds of job portals, and yet the problem lingers because the ‘human’ is hidden. An algorithm and a CV.pdf does little justice in allowing us to reveal our real personalities. Therefore, we also need a bridge that provides graduates with the three foundational elements that helped me secure a job: real-world exposure, training and upskilling, and networking. In retrospect, what I needed 8 months back was the IN4 talent graduate futures month!

The IN4 Talent Graduate Futures Month

The IN4 talent graduate futures month, ran by IN4 Group, gives graduates the opportunities I had to create for myself. The aim is to provide graduates with personal development training, portfolio building skills and to connect them with potential employers.

It contains five personal development webinars, which kick off on 8th June 2020!. The webinars will teach graduates more about what they transmit, their vibe and ensure they are interview ready! Tom Cheesewright, himself an engineering graduate, will also talk about the three critical skills that enhance any STEM graduate’s employability. Graduates will also have the opportunity to ask questions, network and make valuable connections that could lead to job opportunities.

As a graduate, I know job hunting is tough right now and it can feel overwhelming, but don’t forget why you started this journey and invested in your education – your passion for your subject!

Here’s my top 3 tips for securing a job / placement once you graduate:

1 – Keep trying till you get that one YES. Getting disheartened by NOs does not increase your chances of getting an offer.

2 – You get more opportunities by having an open-minded approach – upskill yourself in technology and leadership skills if that is what it takes.

3 – If you can’t find opportunities, make them. Use social media and volunteer yourself to solve problems faced by businesses.

About the Author

Arun Kumar has an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering from India. After successfully establishing and directing a research forum for two years, he pursued his masters in Business Analysis and Strategic Management from the University of Manchester.

He now focuses on implementing disruptive innovation models, optimising manufacturing processes, and delivering both quantitative and qualitative data models for better decision making. He enjoys reading a wide range of books, travelling, coaching, exhibiting thought leadership and writing about all of them in his blog