The UK may be long out of the last recession, but that hasn't meant that the employment world is booming again. In fact, the economy is still far from ideal and that’s meant that finding a job hasn't become any easier for young just-out-of-university graduates in what’s been one of the toughest decades for a long time. Cuts are being made left, right and centre, so it’s no wonder that those jobs you so desperately want are fewer and farther between.
When you’ve spent £9,000 a year and committed three years of your life to education, it’s a hard blow when you’re suddenly struggling to find work post-university. The knowledge and skills that you've learnt should give you an advantage in your career, right? Well, technically yes but life is never that simple, and while the economy is going through a difficult period it’s necessary to ride it out and try to make the best of your options in the meantime.
Despite how easy it is to become despondent if your job hunting efforts are not paying off or you’re seemingly unable to progress into your chosen career, there are a few things to remember that might help you to stay positive and motivated until you find what you're looking for.
Low skilled jobs are not all that bad
It’s very easy to think that your three years at university are wasted if you find yourself in a low-skilled job, but remember that you will still be learning skills that you can apply to future roles.
Stop moping about whether you think you deserve better, and focus on gaining valuable communication skills, understanding what it’s like to be put under pressure, doing some problem-solving, and learning how to multi-task.
Don’t write off a low-skilled job just because you're waiting for something better to come along. While you look, you can earn money, meet new people and gain new skills. It won't look bad on your CV either; employers will appreciate that you’ve been committed to putting yourself out there, while it also shows that you’re adaptable and passionate about taking on new challenges.
Remember that it’s not just graduates who struggle
Although more emphasis is put on graduates when it comes to unemployment and the economy, you’re definitely not alone. The added pressure for you as a graduate is that you feel that the money and time you’ve spent getting the best education possible should warrant a great job in return, as soon as you leave university.
There are thousands of people out there who struggle to find work, no matter what skills they have and how many years they've been in employment. More people are choosing to change careers as they get older nowadays and this poses problems because they don’t always have the necessary skills, but if it’s something they’re extremely passionate about doing then they won’t give up. Keep up your good work and keep applying, because there is a job out there with your name on it somewhere.
You’re only young
This might sound ridiculous, but you have no idea how lucky you are to have your whole life ahead of you. Why should you know exactly what you want to do or have the job of your dreams as soon as you come out of university? It might take you longer than you realise to get to where you want, and everything in between will be part of the journey. Don't run before you can walk is very apt for graduates, because it can often feel like you should be a step ahead of the game all the time.
Many people don’t reach the peak of their careers until well into their 30s and sometimes their 40s, so that should provide some reassurance to you that you’ve got plenty of time to progress in your career. If you peak too early, you could become dissatisfied and burnt out, so take it slow if you need to.
Money isn't everything
Despite the debt you come out of university with, you don't need to start worrying about that straight away. You won’t be expected to start paying back what you owe until you’re earning over £22,000 a year, and even then you’ll only be paying a portion that’s relative to your income so it won’t be as noticeable as you might imagine it to be.
If you want to move out of your parents’ home or you dream of earning enough to eat out more often, then try to be realistic in your expectations. The urge might be there, but the reality is that it’s probably more of a pipedream at that moment. In time, yes of course it’s possible, but maybe not right now.
There’s more to life than money, and being happy is one of those. Being healthy is another. People around you might be earning more and living a more luxurious lifestyle, but that’s not for everyone. Be authentic and don’t be driven by other’s expectations, otherwise you’re likely to end up doing something that isn't fulfilling.
Rejection isn't always a reflection of your ability
If you’re struggling to find work, you need to remember that it’s not always a reflection of you. Of course, there will be times where you haven’t focused enough attention on an application or you've fired off the same cover letter to 10 companies, but it could also be down to the fact that hundreds of other applicants are applying for the same role as you.
When you start to feel dejected after firing off tens of applications and hear nothing, it could be worth taking a couple of days to remind yourself of how far you've come and that you are good enough, and that you will find something. If you push through, you'll start sending off half-hearted applications, whereas time to reflect and re-motivate will give you another push.