Five things you can do right now to maximise job search success

December 02, 2015
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The fear of spending years at university, graduating, and then not being able to slot into the position of your dreams is real. There’s an imbalance between the supply of graduates and the demands of recruiters, and the Foundation for Young Australians has found that, on average, it takes about five years to find fulltime work after studying. To avoid being stranded in limbo, here are five things you can do now to improve your job search success.

Move back home to recuperate and relaunch

Sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward again. In fact, a Deakin University study even backed up that idea. In saying that, don’t just move back and get complacent and lazy and sponge off your parents. Think of it as a chance to refocus your energy, declutter your mind, get advice from your ‘rents, and aim to get back in the ring.

And because they're your parents, they have limitless love for you, so paying full rent may not be needed – bonus!

Volunteer to accumulate work experience

The benefits of volunteering have been well documented. That being said, make sure you volunteer in a position that relates to your career trajectory, as this will ensure you enjoy the process of giving your time for free.

If you’re in limbo while trying to find a paid gig, potential employers will be impressed that instead of a large hole in your work experience history, you actually did something with your time. They’ll see that, while the job market is tough, you didn’t lie down and take a bashing, but kept moving forward instead. Be proactive and initiate contact. Two great places to start are Go Volunteer and Volunteering Australia.

Do freelance work to stay afloat

Just because you can’t have watercooler conversations, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply your theoretical knowledge straight after graduation. As well as the usual benefits of wearing your PJs and avoiding potential road rage, freelancing allows you to learn valuable business skills.

You’ll also grow the necessary balls to put yourself out there, because you’re the only one chasing work. Every pitch you send is similar to each tailored job application you send: transferrable skills for when you apply to work for the man. Freelancing also allows you to build a network of clients and colleagues who can refer you to work that hasn’t been advertised.

Engage in further studies

You may be shouting “No more studies!” since it’s probably too soon after you’ve donned the gown and cap to farewell your degree. But the hard-hitting truth is that just graduating from university isn’t enough anymore.

Don’t stress just yet - it doesn’t necessarily mean another 18-24 months of on-campus life. You can opt for distance education where most degrees are fairly flexible. Open Universities Australia, for example, allows you to pick and choose subjects from various universities to make up a degree. Or take a look at Coursera, one of the world’s leading providers of massive open online courses (MOOC). This’ll show potential employers that you’re prepared to slog it out, knuckle down and restart during difficult times.

Continually network, take genuine interests in others

Sure, endless job applications can lead you to despair, but don’t neglect the art of networking. It’s considered a longer-term way of scoring your dream role. But it shouldn’t be done only when you’ve hit rock bottom; it should be viewed as a way of making genuine continual connections with others from various industries.

While social media networking is all the rage these days and LinkedIn is on the rise, also remember to meet people in the flesh. An old-timer of an employer may just appreciate that there are still some young people who know the value of face-to-face communication. Or, if you prefer more business-like settings, subscribe to a company’s events schedule to attend events that may just lead to work experience, job shadowing, or even a job.

Toby Vue

Toby is a Master of Arts (journalism) student at Charles Sturt University. He tweets at @tobyvue.