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You may not be finding it easy to find a graduate opportunity, and if you can’t get a job related to your degree then it’s important to try and get some kind of work to keep yourself going and develop skills that will be valuable in any career. But there is something that is even more important: keeping your hand in with activities related to your chosen field.

Many graduates can have the impression that after leaving university that’s it, job done- but in order to stand out while looking for work you really need to keep tabs on what is happening in your industry, learn new skills, and continue with some kind of projects.

This is particularly important in certain sectors. For example computing / IT, which has in general been less affected by the pandemic than many; there are opportunities available, but with a lot of competition.  In many cases the most popular candidates with employers are those who not only got at least a 2:1 but also had some kind of relevant experience – for example a placement year or internship.  Most of these are already in work, and those who don’t have related experience can secure a position, but really do need to stand out.

I have found that many of the computing related graduates who are currently looking for work fit a very similar profile: they graduated one or two years ago, but have done nothing related to their degree since, whether that be in terms of work or something in their own time. It’s a real shame as they did the hard work in gaining a degree, many a 2:1 or even a first, but as time goes on this becomes less relevant and it’s even more difficult to secure a graduate role.

While it’s currently not easy to get a related job, there are plenty of other things that can be done. For example learning new technologies, or working on projects. And having a GitHub account to show work. Read books, or look online for free courses, or invest in ones with a cost if you can afford it. Maybe join a trade association or society.

This not only shows the graduate is continually learning and developing their skills, it shows they have a genuine interest. Many job adverts will ask for someone who is keen to continually learn and develop, and unless you have carried on developing your skills after leaving university this may not be easy to justify – particularly when up against others who have.

A similar approach can be taken to all other degrees to varying extents. For example marketing: a graduate could offer voluntary services to a small business or society; maybe plan a marketing strategy,  set up social media channels, write content- and track the results to see how effective the actions have been. This will look great on a CV.

If you are working full-time then it’s not easy to get time to develop new skills and apply for jobs, but a lot can come down to time management. Plan in some time each week and make sure you stick to it.

This additional knowledge and experience is not in itself guaranteed to get you a job, but it will really help you to stand out.