How to make yourself job ready

It can be a shock to start work after full-time education. But as thousands of students leave school, college and university, now’s the time to get in practice

By Tim Gibson

As the summer beckons, students up and down the country are preparing for the end of their time in education. Undergraduates will be nervously eyeing degree results. College students will be preparing for A-Levels or vocational assessments. Younger pupils will be wrestling with GCSEs.

    “It can be a major shock to start work after years in education,” says Ellen Dalena, a consultant at Just Recruitment...  

For many, this period spells the end of their time in education. Once the final exam is sat or the last piece of coursework submitted, they’ll head out to the big wide world, hoping to find a job that makes the best use of their talents.

We’ve written elsewhere about the best way to spend your time while looking for a job and about finding the right opportunity for you.

But how do you get yourself ready for the lifestyle change involved in moving from full-time education to a working environment?

“It can be a major shock to start work after years in education,” says Ellen Dalena, a consultant at Just Recruitment Group Ltd who specialises in first-time appointees. “Although it’s by no means a walk in the park to be at university, college or school, you tend to have more flexibility about your time, and fewer expectations about things like what you wear, when you take breaks, and even when and where you work.

“The nine to five can come as something of a surprise if you’ve grown accustomed to the flexibility and informality of student life.”

The trick is to start building routines into your life even before you pick up your first job. “I always advise candidates who are leaving education to start behaving as if they’re already working while looking for the right opportunity,” Ellen continues.

“Set an alarm and make sure you’re up and ready to leave the house by 8.30am. Dress smartly, rather than slopping around in joggers and a hoodie. Eat a proper breakfast and do something proactive. You may spend a couple of hours visiting recruitment consultants to register your details. Perhaps you’ll do some internet job hunting in a cafe. Or simply spend the time reading the news and engaging with the world. That’ll ensure you have something interesting to say when you’re interviewed.”

Another tip is to identify gaps in your CV and use the time before you start work to fill them. “I’m always happy to give candidates advice about the things they need to do to enhance their employability,” says Ellen. “The most successful candidates are those who ask how they can sharpen their skill set while job hunting. They show a hunger for work and a desire to improve their profile.”

    “Set yourself some projects that are relevant to the sort of job you hope to secure,”...  

Ellen Dalena also says you can use the time before starting work to get in the right mindset.

“Set yourself some projects that are relevant to the sort of job you hope to secure,” she says. “For example, I had a candidate who wanted to work in a manual role. While he was looking for the right opportunity, he decided to make wooden garden furniture that he could sell to friends, deliberately working a seven-hour day in his dad’s workshop.

“The benefits were twofold: he had a bit of money coming in while he looked for work. But more importantly, it got him into the habit of working throughout the day. When he started his first job a month or so later, he was accustomed to early rises and long days. It all felt perfectly natural to him.”

A further benefit of being proactive is that it sends a positive message to employers. “A common complaint among employers is that younger people don’t have a good work ethic,” reports Ellen Dalena. “If you can go into an application process with evidence of your motivation, diligence, and general get up and go, you’ll immediately stand out from the crowd.”

So there you have it. You may feel as if completing your studies is a liberation. But if you want to find the job of your dreams, it’s when the hard work really begins.

Published: 6 June 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you liked this article, you may enjoy – All you need to know about interviews

You may also like – How do you choose the best recruitment agency for you?

Jobs currently available

New job
Assistant Branch Manager
Sector: Sales
Salary: £29,000 - £30,000 per annum
Location: Chelmsford, Essex
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909854
About the role

Just Recruitment is seeking an enthusiastic Assistant Branch Manager to join a company based in Chelmsford.

This is an excellent opportunity to join a growing organisation - offering a competitive salary and company bonus. Monday to Friday, 7.30am - 5pm and every other Saturday morning - overtime is paid. 

Free parking.

Company bonus scheme.

Previous experience within a Builders / Plumbers merchants is essential.

Personal attributes:

  • A hard-working polite team player.
  • A self-motivated person who understands the importance of getting the job done and/or responding to the customer as promised, and on time.
  • Should be punctual, well presented and like to operate in a clean and tidy manner.
  • Positive with a friendly "can do" attitude.
  • A good listener who is keen to learn, develop new skills and "get on" in the business.
  • Thoughtful and resourceful, someone who enjoys solving problems.
  • Real ambition and a desire to succeed would be beneficial as the role offers excellent opportunities to progress in the future. 
Read more
New job
Project Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £30,000 - £40,000 per annum
Location: Sudbury Suffolk
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909743
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Project Lead / Manager to join a company based in Sudbury Suffolk, on a fixed-term contract basis.

You will be an experienced project manager working with one of the company’s strategic suppliers, to move key electrical raw material components from their facility in the UK to the one in Romania.

The project manager will be the key liaison between the supplier and the company and is expected to keep the supplier on track with the expectations and standards of the team.

Candidate requirements:

You will have experience in working within a manufacturing environment and moving either manufacturing lines or supply lines across borders.

You will also have Medical device or Pharmaceutical experience.

We are looking at 6-12 month fix term contract with relevant notice periods.

Salary is negotiable depending on experience.

Read more
New job
Part-time Administrator
Sector: Public Service and Administration
Salary: Competitive depending on experience
Location: Sudbury
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909844
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for an Administrator on behalf of a company based in Sudbury.

The role involves being part of a small and friendly team on a part-time basis, working 2-3 days per week.

Duties to include:

  • Opening post
  • Franking post
  • Greeting clients
  • Answering telephone
  • Banking procedures
  • Filing
  • Setting up new client files (electronic and paper)
  • Maintaining current client files (electronic and paper)
  • Assisting with the smooth running of systems
  • Monitoring books in / books out
  • Liaising with other branches
  • Client billing
  • GDPR and Money Laundering paperwork (a strong understanding of this is essential)

May evolve to include other duties and responsibilities.

Read more
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £25,000 - £30,000 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909835
About the role

Are you a skilled designer looking for your next role?

Do you have luxury branding/magazine experience – including motion graphics (aftereffects) & digital design (social media etc)?

As a creative team member, you will be required to contribute to the wider creative thinking of a business based in Colchester, improving designs or presentations whilst working to tight deadlines.

You will be required to work in collaboration with the wider studio team and furthermore with the other departments across the business to produce the best possible outcome for each project worked on.

You will also be contributing towards the design presentations, so attention to detail and high standards in your work is a must.

Job responsibilities:

  • Creation of high-quality concept designs for necessary projects.
  • To work alongside the studio team to understand the project requirements and deliver them in accordance with the written brief.
  • To liaise and communicate effectively with the Client Services team to ensure the desired outcome is reached and the creative output complies with the needs of any marketing and strategic requirements.
  • Supporting the Creative Director and Head of Creative in bringing branding, design themes and relevant creative projects to life.
  • Responsible for managing and organising allocated projects efficiently and meeting their necessary deadlines.
  • To contribute to the delivery of client, new business or pitch presentations.
  • Any other ad-hoc duties required by the Creative Director or Head of Creative.

Person specification:

  • A relevant degree or similar level/achievement.
  • A previous position held within a similar role.

Knowledge and skills:

  • Highly proficient in Adobe Creative Software – InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat and AfterEffects.
  • Ability to multi-task various goals and objectives.
  • Deadline driven.
  • Excellent planning and organisational skills.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Exceptional attention to detail.

Personal qualities:

  • A strong team player.
  • Ability to work to tight deadlines.
  • An ambitious and driven individual.
  • Be able to work under pressure to meet in deadlines.

This is an excellent opportunity for a creative individual to join a fast-paced organisation on the outskirts of Colchester.

Offering a great package - depending on skills and experience - free parking is available on site.

Read more