"This week I'm going to offer some suggestions as to why Marco Erzinger, a graduate who describes himself as 'someone with a good degree from a redbrick university with a strong history of academic achievement and quite extensive work experience' might be having such a hard time by analyzing some of his statements."
Following on from my article last week about Marco Erzingher, a graduate who describes himself as 'someone with a good degree from a redbrick university with a strong history of academic achievement and quite extensive work experience', but who is finding it difficult to find a graduate job, this week I'm going to offer some suggestions as to why he might be having such a hard time by analyzing some of his statements:
"Sadly, my dad does not play tennis with an MP and my mum is self-employed, so my family connections are rather limited."
Here Marco is referring to his lack of a strong network to aid him in his job searching, and it makes me wonder whether Marco has truly explored the possibilities that good networking offers. True, many individuals through friends or family already have a very useful network that they can tap into when job searching. But, if you don't have a strong network, then you just have to make your own because no one is going to do it for you. Difficult it may be, but impossible it is not. Of course how you go about doing this depends on the industry, but generally speaking, you can attend events, join youth societies, enter competitions, join online forums, share and exchange ideas, try and get an online presence by showcasing examples of your work, get in touch with people by e-mail, social networks and if you have a justified reason, even by phone. This is of course by no means an exhaustive list. The main point is that your network will be as big or as small as you make it.
"After all, I had never solely focused on one specific route, and I figured this openness to potential career paths would undoubtedly make it easier for me."
Lots of students get tempted by this shotgun approach to job applications, but it can often do more harm than good. Even if you are not sure, as many students are not, about the type of career you want, this doesn't mean you should apply for everything in sight. Try your best to narrow it down as much as possible if you're uncertain and go for a focused approach instead. You might think that your applications to several different industries all appear very authentic and tailored, but a lot of the time they won't, and this will become visible in your cover letter, your CV or online application form. Recruiters are bombarded with applications and any half-hearted application you send, be it intentionally or not, will not be worth their full attention.
"A real wake-up call came when it dawned on me my degree had in fact become a hindrance."
Apparently Marco believes that his degree has now become somewhat of a hindrance in his job searching because more than once he has been asked whether he considered the job he is applying for to be merely a stopgap, which was "A question I had not expected and had no ready response." Now ignoring the paradox of your university education being the decisive factor that stops you from getting a job, I think the issue here is more to do with a lack of preparation. When applying for any job, you should most certainly be able to give a convincing answer to the question 'Why do you want this job?' If you haven't prepared an answer to this question, an answer which matches your professional experience as well as your educational background, then don't be surprised if you don't get the job. Or if you find it difficult to come up with a good answer for why you want that particular job, then should you really still be applying?
Having said that, I do not know the full details of Marco's situation and so my analysis of his statements is based on generalities as opposed to specific information.
On a different note, let's say you've advanced past the application form, aced the telephone interview, breezed through the numerical test and now you find yourself in a one on one interview. Even if you have got to where you are because on paper, you are in fact the best person for the job, if you can't convince your interviewer of that, then you're unlikely to get anywhere. So if you're not very good at selling yourself or speaking in general, then practice. Practice a lot.
Charles, GRB Journalist
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