From college to employment

Christmas is over and it won't be long before the summer is upon us. For some it will be time to start thinking of trying for that great job, whether full-time or part-time.


Transitioning from college to the right employment can be a challenge but recruitment expert Mike McDonagh has some great tips.

Finishing college brings with it a sense of euphoria and expectation.

The sense of achievement from earning that degree should not be underestimated. You have worked hard to reach this point and pride can be taken from that fact as you prepare to enter the world of work. Of course,  once the celebrations die down, the reality of having to get a job will have set in. Starting off in the world of work can be an unsettling time.

Questions that until recently seemed immaterial now need to be answered. What job should I go for? Should I apply for every job going? Should I accept the first offer even if it is not what I really want? There are some steps you can take - even before you take your final exams - to greatly enhance your chances of success.

Before graduation

Will participating in college activities enhance future chances of success?
Yes, if you are able to match them to the requirements of the job you’re going for. So, being in the GAA team might not be immediately applicable to life as a Software Developer, but maybe it improves your communication skills to a wider group of people, giving you more confidence and dealing with people you wouldn’t normally deal with.

Get experience in the profession you want to go into. Do you know anyone who works in your chosen profession? If so, perhaps ask about the possibility of getting work experience? Instead of going off and enjoying yourself (entirely!) on a J1, you could sacrifice some of this time to get some practical work experience. 

The ideal would be to combine the two – overseas practical work experience (in the field you want to work in) is great.  Employers also do value life experience, so travelling definitely isn’t off the agenda, but try and make it meaningful.
Other activities such as writing for your college newspaper, being a member of the debating team, and other such societies could certainly enhance your future chances of success, if they relate to the industry you are interested in.

After graduation

Should you pursue post-graduate qualifications immediately upon graduation?

If it helps you get into your chosen profession and is a requirement for that job, then yes, of course.  However, this may not be practical for you, financially or otherwise.
Work on your CV – try and pack it with clearly defined achievements and skills that relate to your chosen profession
Work on your interview skills – being good at interviews is a skill – you can improve your performance at interviews, with practice.

Click on the links below for some useful tips from Mike McDonagh on how to prepare your CV, how to prepare your job application, what to do in the interview and how to treat your first job offer.

The CV

How important is your CV? In most sectors, it’s vital. Some organisations are moving to use more creative or digital platforms rather than a traditional CV, but these organisations are still in the (relative) minority.  So, work on your CV and make sure it’s the best possible representation of who you are.

The job application and interview

What should I do when I get an interview? Preparation preparation preparation. Boring I know, but it works! Run through typical interview questions, get someone to role play with you

The job offer

Should you accept the first offer – what if it’s not really what you want? Sometimes you have to take two or three steps before you get the job you really want.

Related: Resources for jobseekers

Mike McDonagh is a director with HAYS Recruiting experts worldwide