The trend is that jobs are concentrated in occupational areas and employers have become tough about whom they recruit. Graduates are increasingly expected to be more flexible in terms of their skills and qualifications, as the focus for graduates is no longer on 'What can they do for me?' but 'What can I offer them?'
- An overseas education is not the only factor that potential employers will consider.
- Employers in most countries select staff based on academic performance, local language ability and demonstrated employability skills.
With the increase in workers changing jobs and career direction, a significant amount of work is now offered on a temporary/contractual basis. Explore different options for your first job, as it may not be the traditional 'graduate' position but it will still equip you with the relevant experience, knowledge and skills necessary to progress in your career.
During your penultimate year you need to do an audit of where you are with your career planning. Points to consider at this stage may be:
- researching the labour market in your country of choice and deciding on career options
- checking the visa or immigration requirements of the country, if it is not your country of origin
- taking a look at yourself in the way an employer would:
- 'Does this person have a clear career direction?'
- 'Have they maximised their time at university in terms of marks and extra-curricular activities?'
- 'Can they demonstrate the kind of attributes we seek through work experience or involvement in university life?'
Most employers look for a blend of good academic results, employment experience and extra curricular activities. You still have time to build your resume with involvement and achievement in these areas.
Ask yourself the hard questions about whether you have the qualifications to obtain the kind of start to your career that you are seeking. If not, what alternative careers or employers can you consider and would a postgraduate qualification make the difference?
This is when you really have to give attention to your job search. If you haven't done the above, do them quickly as you will need to be focused on applying for jobs in your final year. Here are some further planning tips for your final year:
- Identify the employers that you want to work for and find out essential information - do this early!
- Look up job search websites for countries that you are considering working in.
- Do not be complacent about cultural differences and how they will affect your job search. Many well-qualified graduates have failed in their job search because of an inappropriately formatted resume or appearing boastful at interview.
- Use all available means to explore the graduate labour market. Most major newspapers have websites or job search engines that will allow you to find information on:
- who is recruiting
- what skills are in demand
- salary bands
- major recruitment agencies
You can start building up a file of prospective employers well in advance of completing your studies.
Thousands of vacancies for graduates are listed on websites such as:
Arriving overseas and looking for a job
- Try and organise a schedule of meetings or interviews prior to your arrival. This will avoid wasted time and money once you step off the plane.
- Keep in touch with friends that you have made at university as they may be able to assist in providing an introduction to potential employers or advice on how to go about your job search in that country.
- Be mobile. It may be that the best start to your graduate career is not in the first country or city of your choice. It may be with an employer in the suburbs or regions. Remember that the reputation of the employer, the quality of the training and the prospects for genuine career progression are important in shaping your professional career.
- While it is important to target your employers of choice with an effective application, do ensure that you apply to enough organisations to give yourself a reasonable chance of being successful.
Returning home or working off shore
If you are an international student who has studied in Australia you are not automatically a better candidate than someone who has a degree from your own country. Employers look for applicants with the right attitude and personal skills-workplace communication skills, 'can do' attitude, competitiveness and initiative, among other qualities.