Ten top tips for job hunting
'Surely we don’t need to think about that yet?'
As someone who didn’t think about my career until after I’d finished my history degree I have every sympathy for you; everything else seems much more fun or pressing at this point.
But as someone who spent their first year after graduating delivering sandwiches and inputting data, I’d encourage you to make time now to think about where God might be calling you to serve. Here are ten tips about how to go about that…
1) Make time!
Block out a couple of hours to start thinking about what’s after university. Take yourself away from the laptop, put your phone away, have a think and pray.
2) Consider what type of job
If you're studying for a vocational degree, you're likely to be working towards a specific career path. Check out the professional body or trade union for your field, and see what information they have on how to apply for your first job.
If you are studying for a less vocational degree, then this stage may take more time. Let who you are drive the kind of job you are looking for, rather than letting what’s out there on jobs boards pigeonhole you. Give yourself enough time so that you don't just look for a job as a source of income, but for a career that will energise you, using the gifts God’s given you.
- What skills do I most enjoy using?
- Where do I want to use these skills?
- Who can I talk to who might be able to suggest jobs which fit the skills I enjoy using, in the kind of environment I’d enjoy?
3) Consider who you are
Before thinking about your skills, you might need to take another step and think about who you are. What is it that you enjoy? Profile tests can be useful in thinking about who you are, and how you tick. I’m a bit of a profile-test junkie and my favourites are Gallup’s Strength-finder and Myers Briggs. Both are compatible with Christian faith (remembering that our identity is in Christ and not in what we can do).
4) Block out more time!
Put aside 2 hours a week for job-hunting. You’ll be amazed how long it takes to fill in an application form. Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent (that essay you haven’t started that’s due tomorrow) encroach into that time. With basic time-planning you can fit into your schedule everything that’s important.
5) Actually get out there and look
There are numerous ways to find out where there are opportunities:
- Ask your personal contacts: your tutor, careers advisor, parents, friends, people at church etc…
- Approach organisations you wish to work for: by their website/social media/sending in a CV/giving them a call
- Look for adverts in national/local newspapers and on national/local job websites
- Go to the ‘milk round’ careers fairs on campus
- Head to specific websites for different professional bodies or fields, and sign up for their newsletters
6) Apply for jobs
When it actually comes to filling in an application form or writing a CV / covering letter / personal statement, go to your university’s careers webpages. They are likely to have loads of information and some helpful checklists. Do read thoroughly the information that an employer sends out to you before filling in anything. A job description tells you what the duties of a job are, the person specification tells you what skills the employer thinks the successful candidate must have. So make sure that in your application you demonstrate your experience or transferable skills for each point of the person specification.
7) Prepare for interview
Again, check out your uni’s careers website. Remember that the interview is as much about your preparation before-hand as it is about the short time that you actually spend with the interviewers. Make time in the days before the interview to prepare yourself. Also remember that you are going to interview to assess whether it’s the right job for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to check that out.
8) Have the right attitude
Have confidence in whom God has made you. Job hunting is not about going to employers with a cap in your hand: God has made you the person you are, so there are jobs out there in environments that would suit you, where you can be salt and light for Him. Equally, don’t be cocky; be confident in telling employers about the gifts you have and the experience you have gained, but remember that employers can see through the blag. You won’t be the first graduate they’ve ever interviewed!
9) Do some reading
If you are starting from scratch with no idea about what you want to do then I would suggest this book, which is generally recognised as the ultimate job-seekers handbook, with lots of ideas and frameworks to consider options, written from a Christian point of view: What Colour Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles.
10) Keep trusting God
You might not find a suitable job straight away, but this time of looking to God and proactively pushing doors will have meaning in His giant scheme of things. Think, learn, grow, pray, and trust in Him.
Cally Griffiths studied at the University of Leicester and then De Montfort University. She worked as UCCF's Head of Personnel.
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