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Fresh Out of School: 6 Ways to Jumpstart your Career

Fresh Out of School: 6 Ways to Jumpstart your Career

Being fresh out of school and unemployed is one of the toughest times in one’s life. As if having to deal with student loans was not enough, the graduates also have to start fighting for a job. And the thing that could make this even harder is having the wrong diploma. For this same reason many students research the job market before choosing a major, a staggering 82% of them, in fact.

Moreover, many students are encouraged to go for a STEM degree, believing that this will make it easier for them to find a job, according to the Accenture Strategy 2015 US College Graduate Employment Study. It seems as though the newer generations are thinking in a practical and long-term way, because many of them could end up jobless if not careful.

Unfortunately, this is the cruel reality, but with a little bit of hard work, willingness to push on, and some creativity, these young 20-somethings could find employment sooner than they expect. Here are a few strategies that could help recent graduates jumpstart their careers.

1. Set up a LinkedIn account and mind your manners on other social media websites

The first thing you should do, if you want a job, is make a quality resume. It should serve as an effective selling pitch for your skills, education, and experience. When an employer looks at it, they should want to call you based only on that piece of paper. However, as well as having the physical resume, you should make an online one by setting up a LinkedIn account.

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Be wary, as this is a strictly professional platform. People use it to find employment, recruiters use it to find employees and serious entrepreneurs use it to make business connections. It is a great way to connect and build a strong professional network you could use in the future. Nevertheless, before setting up, learn all about the rules and the best way to make your profile effective. (For example, by using the right keywords or writing a great summary that stands out.)

One more thing to pay attention to, when you start looking for a job, are your other social media accounts. When you apply for a job, be sure that the recruiter will look you up online. Everything connected to you will pop up in that search, so exhibiting good online etiquette is a must. Deleting your drunk photos, profanity-filled posts, and any other incriminating thing would be a great idea.

2. Start freelancing to get used to working and earn some initial money

Freelancer on laptop

    While you are job hunting, try working as a freelancer to get a sense of the work ethic. However, if you are good at it, with time, it could turn into something bigger and better. Perhaps, you’ll continue freelancing even when you are employed full-time.

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    Being unemployed means being broke. So, doing freelance work gives you the opportunity to earn at least some money. It may not be much at first, but at least you won’t be completely penniless. And if you decide to try it out, there are many websites where you could find clients and offer your services.

    3. Prepare a tailored resume for each job you apply to

    This is important to mention because many people do not understand the process of making a resume and a cover letter. You should create an all-encompassing “master resume” with all the information about your formal education, courses you’ve taken, skills, hobbies, volunteering experience, the works. When you start applying for multiple jobs, tailor the CV to the job in question using the “master resume” as a starting point.

    Every work position is different, so every job application should be different, too. Also, if you are obliged to send a cover letter, write a new one each time. Do not send the same cover letter. Having a bad, non-updated resume, leaves a bad impression of you. It means that you are too lazy to make an effort, or that you are not familiar with the general rules of job hunting.

    4. Start reading books on business, body language, human dynamics and negotiation

    Staying educated after college is a must. When someone says educated, it means being up to date with current events, changes in the industry you want to work in, business news or how companies operate nowadays. You find information on all of this by browsing the internet or reading books. You should read about the business world to learn how things really work, and what it takes to get ahead.

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    For example, working 9-5 was once the norm, but today more and more companies are starting to cut down on the working hours and switching to 6-hour work days. Also, a lot of companies now have open-space offices, instead of those little cubicles.

    Another good topic to read on is body language and how humans interact with each other. Understanding human psychology would benefit you greatly. It could help you understand the behavior of the people around you, and allow you to effectively resolve conflicts and tailor your approach to different personality types.

    Additionally, you would learn how to easily communicate with others in general, without losing your temper or failing to get your point across. Good manners, confident body language, a positive attitude and a few strategic sentences here and there can often get you further in your career than sitting quietly in the corner and churning out reports, hoping that your hard work will get noticed.

    5. Expand your technology-related skill sets

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    Technology and science

      Having the right qualifications and being a people person are important important in business, but you also need to be familiar with the latest technology. And I’m not just talking about knowing how to effectively use the MS Office Suit and having professional-looking social media profiles – you need to master the type of software used in your industry, have some basic computer maintenance skills, have working knowledge of popular cloud-based services, be familiar with some of the latest tech gadgets and so on.

      After you master those basic technology skills, you should work on more complicated ones. For example, learn HTML, Java or WordPress. Dabble in Photoshop and video editing or learn about digital marketing. Luckily, there are many options to choose from, from easy to difficult ones. Whatever you settle for, it will be useful because computer literacy is as important as anything else.

      6. Think about long-term progress

      When you start browsing for jobs and building your career, it is important to think long-term. Think about the future and where you would like your career to go. For example, would you want to spend your whole life in an office or do you want to have more freedom? Do you want to work in only one industry or have mixed types of jobs?

      Consider the risk of locking yourself down in one place without the ability to change anything. The best thing you could do is build a skill set that could be used in several similar jobs. This way you would progress without any difficulties, and switching jobs would be easier, too.

      There is a lot more to learn about building a career, and how life works in general, but once you’ve got these tips covered, you can learn all the other big stuff through personal experience. Just be sure to work on improving yourself every single day, and be persistent in your job-hunting efforts.

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      Djordje Todorovic

      Blogger, Gamer Extraordinaire

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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

      How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

      If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

      Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

      But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

      Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

      If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

      1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

      For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

      Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

      If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

      But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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      So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

      Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

      In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

      2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

      Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

      Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

      Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

      Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

      For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

      Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

      Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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      For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

      Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

      Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

      Bonus:

      If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

      3. Take meaningful time for yourself

      We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

      Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

      If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

      Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

      This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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      No time for me-time? Try this:

      If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

      This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

      Bonus:

      Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

      4. Get productive and feel accomplished

      Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

      When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

      While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

      Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

      No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

      So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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      Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

      This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

      Try this:

      Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

      The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

      Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

      The bottom line

      There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

      The only question is — which tip will you try first?

      Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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