These days you should probably expect to have several careers consecutively.
If you work intelligently, keep your eyes and ears open and are alive to the changes going on in the world around you, then maybe you can segue effortlessly into the next thing, transitioning seamlessly into a new situation that exploits new technology.
And is it different for graduates? That really depends on what your degree is and how you use it. If your degree affords you entry into the professions then you will probably enter and stay within that profession, evolving within it.
Define your brand
Think of this as a marketing project. You need to define your brand – who you are, what you do, what you can offer. This will be useful on your CV and also at interviews and networking events.
“I’m Helen, a recent business studies graduate. I really enjoyed the marketing modules in my degree, have strong website skills, and would love to work in product promotion, particularly online. ”
Check your online presence
Make sure your online presence will not be a turn off for employers. They will “Google” you -what will they find? So remove anything that will reflect negatively on you.
And try to build a strong positive presence-start a blog that highlights your skills and aspirations.
Check your appearance and wardrobe
What was great for campus life isn’t going to go down so well in the world of work.
You need to consider a professional wardrobe-a few basic pieces will do for now, you can build the wardrobe up once you start earning.
Pay attention to your appearance too, hair, make up, nails and jewellery all contribute to the impression you make at interview, networking events, and at work.
Get your sales tools in good order
Have a look at these posts on this site for more tips and advice.
Build your network
It has been said that you already know the person who can get you your next job (Richard Bolles “What colour is your parachute?”)
Networking is a vital skill, both to help you get work and to further your career once you have afoot on the ladder. There will be groups you join, conferences you attend, in-house gatherings. At all of them, you must network, not sit in the corner hoping no-one will notice you.
Lots of business sectors run networks. Professionals such as teachers and accountants have association meetings and continual professional development events. Often people pass business to each other, support each other in projects too large for them individually, and maybe even pool specialist equipment or knowledge.
Explore the industry you want to join. Subscribe to blogs, go to meetings.
It is a good idea to arrive early at meetings so that groups are not formed. This means that people will join you rather than you having to break into a group.
If people are already there, look around the room and select an open group. This is a small group who have left their circle open, rather than a closed group who are engrossed in deep conversation.
Approach the group with a friendly smile, don’t interrupt, but make it obvious you want to join the group. Wait for a gap in the conversation, make eye contact and offer a handshake to one of the group.
Experienced networkers will welcome you into the group, and introduce you to others. If not, then introduce yourself briefly .Tell them this is your first time here, and someone will usually help you.
Ask people about themselves and their business before you try to tell them about yours. If you see an opportunity to be helpful to anyone else, take it. One good turn earns another.
Networking should be a series of meetings, where you gradually gain mutual trust. You can arrange to meet to follow up if you can both see mutually beneficial opportunities.
Think of networking as “Farming not hunting “. You are sowing seeds that can be harvested later when the time is right. Getting to know people increases your chances of doing business with them, or of them remembering you when an opportunity arises. So grow your contacts
Look for opportunities to help others or to connect people or companies that might work well together. Others will ask you for recommendations or referrals, so your stature grows, you are considered a person who has influence.
Prepare for interviews
So that when you do get your foot in the door, you can go to the interview confidently, knowing that you are fully prepared with research about the company, answers to questions they will ask you, questions you need to ask them.
We have a whole lesson on this topic elsewhere on the site, We will take you through how to research the company and the role you are seeking, issues to consider, how to pitch yourself as the best candidate for the job. We will also look at different types of interviews, what is involved, what to expect.