You’re fresh out of education and you’re as ready as you’ll ever be to take the leap into gainful employment. Right then, let’s go! Not so fast… In front of you imagine there are a number of paths snaking away into the distance; these are the pathways to your future and it’s time to decide which direction you’re going to take.
Before you put your best foot forward, there are five questions you should be asking yourself right about now. The answers to these questions should tell you which path is the one for you. So, grab a pen and paper and start thinking about your answers; the sooner we get started the sooner your journey begins:
Why do you want a job?
Duh! That’s easy. Yes, obviously the money; we all need money, but what other boxes need ticking? Your Primary Motivations are the first consideration: e.g. money, the hours available, the location, or opportunities to better yourself.
After that you have the Secondary Motivations – the little extra bonus that comes with the job, such as gaining valuable experience and training that will help further your career in the future.
What are your primary and secondary motivations? What drives you?
How long do you want a job for?
Not all jobs are 8-4 or 9-5, 5 days a week etc. If that is what you are seeking then look for a permanent job. You may be looking for something to tide you over until you find a permanent position. Using a temp agency can keep you busy in various locations and types of job until you find something suitable. Do make sure they are reputable though.
A fixed term contract with an employer can last for the term of a defined project, or it may be to cover an absence, such as maternity leave for example. It may just last a month, or a year, or whatever. Don’t write this option off. Although it may be a short term fix, you will be gaining valuable workplace experience and filling up the blank spaces on your CV.
Another way of gaining experience for students is the gap year, or sandwich course, where you spend 12 months out in the field, learning as you go. It might be something to consider when choosing a course in higher education. If that’s not available then don’t waste your holidays, use them wisely!
What hours are you willing to work?
Are you looking for full time or part time employment? What other commitments do you have outside work? More than 35 hours a week is considered full time. On top of that though you need to consider the time it takes to travel to and from your place of work. You don’t get paid extra for a two or three hour commute. What if you have shifts in the middle of the night? Do you have transport to get there and back? If you have an early start what is the traffic like? Will you get there in time?
Where do you want to work?
Following on from that last point, how far away from home are you willing/able to work? What will the commute be like in terms of the time taken rather than the miles you have to cover?
You could always move closer to the job but this can be an expensive option and only should be considered if the rewards are worth it. See if you have family or friends in the area that could put you up (or put up with you!).
Working from home is becoming more prevalent as technology advances. It sounds great but there are drawbacks: can you handle the isolation without workmates to talk to? Can you motivate yourself enough to get the job done?
What skills and interests do you have?
This is the big one isn’t it? What sort of job do you want? You see how we saved the hardest one until last? This is the question that has plagued so many as they are first venturing out into the jobs market. Part of it is, of course, what can you do? It depends what you are good at and what transferable skills do you possess.
Look at what you were good at in school, what subjects you were best at, what you were interested in most? What didn’t you like? Were you academic or technical? Were you sporty? What are you hobbies? If you like taking things apart and putting them back together again: engineering or mechanical work might suit you. If you like reading, writing or playing chess, giving you an analytical mind: something in administration aiming for management perhaps? Working with computers and playing computer games…well, you don’t need me to spell that one out for you.
Talk to friends and family to see what their job involves. Speak to employers to see what opportunities they have for someone with your talents, maybe they might have a job opening that appeals to you.
Right, that’s it. Have you been scribbling ideas down furiously? Hopefully you will have more of an idea about which path your first step to your future will land on.
For more information check out the video that accompanies this article. While you’re at it you might as well watch all of our videos. RecruitSME is here to help you in your career choices so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.