Life after college can be an amazing experience – with a degree under your belt and a head full of optimism, landing your dream job in your chosen field can seem only too easy. After all, you’ve put in the hard work and have a degree to prove it – so why shouldn’t you deserve a fantastic job in your field?
Unfortunately, the job market is not necessarily about deserving or earning, your position. While the concept of a dream job may exist for a few lucky people (bastards) the reality for most post-grads is less like a cheesy Rachel McAdams movie and more like Vince Vaughn at the beginning of Dodgeball – share-housing, crappy jobs and tiny paycheques are only too real a prospect. Coming out the other side of the recession the job market is still fiercely competitive, and now more than ever employers are looking for cheaper, rather than more qualified employees. Here are a few tips to help you in the direction of landing your dream job (and how to survive in the workplace until then!).
College contacts are your best friends
This is especially important leading up to graduation, but something you can utilize even after graduating. Nearly all college professors will have fantastic contacts in your field of study and will be more than happy to help to connect you with possible future employers. Even if you weren’t at the top of the class, most professors want to help their students gain employment after graduation and will really help with your job search. Be honest when bringing up the subject – let them know that you’re worried about finding work after graduating, or that you’ve been having trouble in the job market. Getting in touch with the appropriate employers is half the battle when seeking work – after that, just let your winning personality and amazing skills do the work!
Take on a temporary job (ugh)
Understandably, many graduates are reluctant to take on other work while seeking out a position in their chosen fields. The prospect of working a boring, unfulfilling job is incredibly depressing and can really diminish your passion and energy to seek out a job you might actually enjoy. However, as cliché as it sounds, experience is great no matter where you get it – even just being able to say that you’re currently employed at a job interview can add a ton of points to your score. Going for an entry-level position with a company even vaguely related to your chosen field will look great on your resume – and give you some valuable insight into the reality of working in the field.
Know exactly what you’re looking for
When heading into an interview, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Knowing your limits in terms of wages, location/distance, working hours and general office operations will make it much easier to find the perfect job. Prior to an interview, figure out the minimum wage you’ll need to cover all your expenses (and then add a small buffer to cover after-work drinks) – unless you’re looking for $100k as a receptionist, asking for a specific wage or salary looks professional, not greedy. Location and working hours also make a huge difference to your job satisfaction – if you’re really keen for a position but the hours are odd, discuss the possibility of changes. Making it clear from the outset will save you a world of heartache later on when trying to renegotiate the terms of your employment, and will also let your possible employer know how committed you are to the position.
Know your rights in the workplace
Knowing that finding a replacement would be only to easy in the current economic climate, many employees are subjected to poor conditions at work. Unpaid overtime, ridiculous hours, miniscule salaries, huge workloads and a lack of benefits are problems faced by most employees at some point during their careers. Being employed as a casual or ‘temp’ worker is also an unfortunate possibility – even if you’re working full-time, technically being titled as ‘casual’ employee means you’re not entitled to any sick pay, holiday pay or benefits. While there are no actual laws against keeping a full-time employee as a casual, if you’ve held the same position for 3 months (the general probation/trial period), speak to a supervisor about the possibility of being made a full-time employee.
For more information about your legal rights as an employee, check out our article on employment legislature in Canada. Always stand up for your legal rights as an employee – even if your company dismisses your complaints (or dismisses you as an employee) you are protected by Canadian law.
Don’t be afraid to quit your job
The current economic climate can make job-searching seem an incredibly daunting task. A lack of income or job security is truly frightening, especially when you have bills to pay. Rather than leaving your job spontaneously, start to jobsearch while still employed. It may seem underhanded to search for a position when you’re working for another company, but provided you give the appropriate amount of notice you’re not actually doing anything wrong. Just make sure not to search while actually at work, and not to bring it up with other employees (as this will probably jeopardize your position and your reputation). Feeling guilty is understandable, but there’s always somebody else who will be happy to take your current role – and you deserve a position that doesn’t drive you to several vodka and tonics every night of the week!