With youth unemployment at record levels, pessimism among local graduates is increasing as many struggle to reach the first rung of the ladder.
Victoria University psychology student Julia Knight feels that the prospect of finding a job after she graduates this year is “not looking fantastic.”
“I’d like to get a job in marketing, but I think I’ll just have to go with the flow.”
Careers New Zealand Wellington career consultant Chuni Bhikha says that finding work can be a real challenge for graduates, particularly taking into account the latest Robert Walters Global Salary Survey.
Mr Bhikha says in light of the survey it seems that local companies are looking to see clear evidence that candidates have improved the fortunes of their organizations before making the decision to hire. “Obviously, such an approach would be disadvantageous to new graduates.”
He encourages graduates to have a well developed career plan B. “A well considered alternative will allow you to enhance your skills and experiences, and will also help you to move yourself back towards your original career goal.”
Ms Knight says she will be looking to start her career overseas if she is unable to get her foot in the door here. “I think there are more opportunities overseas in general.”
However, Mr Bhikha says that the majority of new job opportunities in New Zealand are found through what is known as the “hidden job market.”
“Don’t just rely on the newspaper and the internet for your job search, you must be on the lookout for jobs that exist but are not advertised. It’s estimated that nearly 80 per cent of new jobs are found through the hidden job market.”
He advises graduates to tell friends and acquaintances about the types of jobs they are interested in. “Identify your ‘allies’—they may know of vacancies, or know of someone else who may be able to help you.”
“Sell yourself to companies through phone calls, letters or emails; register with recruitment agencies; and use professional networking sites.”
Mr Bhikha says the biggest mistake students seem to make is when their expectations do not reflect reality.
“They need to start their career planning during their studies to keep themselves well aware of the labour market. That way, there are few surprises and a better likelihood of dealing with the current tight employment conditions.”
He says that for graduates the key to success lies in persistence and resilience.