The question that many upcoming, recent graduates or professionals in their early career often dread hearing is “So, what career are you after?” or “How is the job hunt going?”
Some people have known what they want to do from a young age and have been able to tailor their degree and experience to aim for this dream job. Others don’t know what they want to do and even after they have started working are still unsure what their dream job is. Both routes have their positives and although it may seem daunting, it’s actually an incredibly exciting opportunity for you to see what is out there and what might suit you. For those who don’t know and are at the start of their job search, here are a few points to help structure your thinking and narrow down what it is you are looking for.
Consider what it is you really enjoy doing. Do you like talking to people or are you more comfortable in a heads down environment? These are just some of the questions to think about when starting your job search. Whilst you may not be able to tick all the boxes with your next career step, it is good to keep these in mind!
Also, consider what you really do not want to do in a job. This is just as important and it’s sometimes easier to come up with potential deal breakers!
Think about what skills you already have and how they might be useful to you. Whether you studied a STEM, arts or science based subject at university, the exposure you have had to various programming software and research skills may well help steer you towards jobs that will suit your skillset. However, don’t rule out skills you have developed through internships, volunteering or any other extra-curricular activities that you have done.
It is also important to think about elements of the job that sit outside the core description of the role. Work / Life Balance, salary, location are all important things to consider when starting your job search. For example, if having your evenings off to pursue activities outside of work matters to you then you might need to think carefully about whether careers such as Investment Banking (which tend to have long hours) will fit with these plans.
If you do have a couple of ideas on what you want to do then see if there is anyone who works in that industry who you can talk to. Use your network! Hearing from other people on what their exact responsibilities are and what they enjoy will help you to get a clearer understanding of what is out there. Attending networking events and building connections can also be a great way to start your job search and understand what you’re looking for. Check out the benefits of networking throughout your career
Whilst it is important that you are selective in what you apply for you should try and not be too restrictive in your job search. Remember that you may not get your dream job straight away and that is ok! Experience is always valuable and you will learn more about what your priorities are in your career by being in a working environment and learning new skills on the job.
There is no denying that starting your job search feels like a huge task but it is not something that should be worrying. There is no right way to go about working out what you want to do: you can decide to try a few projects to get an idea of different environments or choose to get stuck in with a permanent opportunity straight away.