Category Career Advice

If you’ve recently finished university and are looking to enter the graduate jobs market, there are some things you need to know…

Throughout our university days, we’re led to believe certain things. That next time, we won’t leave writing an essay right up until the night before it’s due in. That putting Netflix on in the background might actually help us study better. Or that maybe, just maybe, we’ll get away with wearing the same pair of jeans all week without anyone noticing (just us? Ok then).  

Of course, what these things have in common is that deep down, we know them to be untrue. If that’s not the case, you can bet that someone will let you know (particularly when it comes to those stinky jeans).

There are, however, some misconceptions we carry through university that no one bothers to correct until after we enter the graduate job market. 

These misconceptions relate to the world of work, and it’s unclear why we’re kept in the dark. Maybe if they told us at uni it would be ‘bad for business’? Who knows. 

Regardless, we reckon it’s time you knew these things. At NST Graduate, we tell our candidates what they need to hear so they can make informed decisions about their futures. That’s one of the reasons why we’re so successful in helping them land highly-paid graduate job or places on graduate schemes

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here are three facts about the world of work that no one tells you at university. We reckon you can handle the truth. Only, if anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from us.


1. Positive Attitude > Grades


Now, this one’s a little controversial and there are a few caveats. But the grades you achieve at university don’t matter as much as you’ve been led to believe. 

Ok so first, the caveats. If you’ve chosen a vocational path (for example, medicine or law) and intend to pursue work in those fields after graduating, then grades are most definitely important. That’s not to say that it’s the end of the world if you underperform in your finals. But it probably won’t help your cause. 

Outside these areas of study, grades can still make a difference. Clearly, potential employers are going to be interested in someone who’s a first-class honours student. After all, it’s a tell-tale sign that someone’s intelligent and works hard. 

But mostly, grades don’t matter to a hiring manager as much as a positive attitude and a solid work ethic. While they’re unlikely to ask themselves: “How good is this candidate at writing and submitting essays?” they will want to know that you’re easy to manage; that you’ll fit seamlessly into their wider team; and that you’re able to take on board constructive criticism and learn on the job. 


2. Rejection happens… a lot (especially in the graduate job market)


When candidates enter the graduate job market, they’re often unprepared for how hard it can be. The applications process is competitive – especially for more desirable roles. And unless you’re extremely talented (or lucky) you’re probably going to face rejection at some point. 

The important thing to know is that this doesn’t make you a failure – far from it. Perhaps that’s easy to lose sight of when you’ve recently come through an education system where success is binary – you either pass or fail.

The best way to deal with rejection is to learn from it. Analyse what went wrong and work out how you can perform better next time. If anything, it’s an opportunity to find out more about yourself.


3. You don’t have to know everything


The final untold truth about the world of work is that it’s ok not to have all the answers, especially when you’re a graduate. No one expects you to know everything!

That includes what you want to achieve in your career. Some people still don’t know this deep into their forties! It’s the reason that candidates on graduate schemes get given a taste of different departments within a business – it helps them make a more informed decision about the route they want to take.

The most useful piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you’re worried it’ll make you sound daft. It almost certainly won’t. 

Instead, it lets your employers know that you’re switched on, engaged and eager to learn. And once your question’s been answered, you have that wisdom in the bank. Knowledge is power, after all.

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