Written by Caroline Thomas, final year BSc Geography (Physical) student
Since moving to Reading for University, almost three years ago now, I have continued to figure out which career-path to follow; taking advice from friends and family in the process. My geography degree opens many different pathways for me, reliant on the transferrable skills learnt throughout my course so far. However, I believe it is critical to search and apply for graduate jobs that truly match your interests the best – to end up working a job that you love. With this being said, I decided to sign onto the ‘How to find a job you love’ webinar ran by an experienced Career’s Consultant at the University, to place me in a better position, hopefully enabling me to later go ahead and find the best career suited to my own talents.
In reality, work is often a compromise between you and your employer’s needs, with few people truly loving everything about their job. Our own opinions about what we love can also change over time too, meaning that finding ‘the perfect job’ can often be a journey – where optimising our career choices takes time, energy and thought. This led me to identify these key points to consider before further exploring potential fields and areas of interest in the workplace:
- Key skills learnt through University, work experience, placements and hobbies
- The values that are important to you that the company will provide
- Your own interests; what you find interesting and are keen to further explore
- What motivates you to do well, based off your experiences so far
- Your own personality, to ensure you feel authentic in your job
For me, using these key points allowed me to narrow down my search criteria to find jobs that not only suited my own personality, but required skills that I possessed, and needed the right source of motivation to pursue.
I started by making a list and identifying all my personal key skills that I have developed throughout different experiences so far, to which I immediately thought back to when I was completing my 3rd-year Dissertation. These skills included:
- Time management
These stood out to me as the main points I developed throughout this project; since it was vital to stay on top of planning, especially during the uncertain times that lay ahead due to the implications of COVID-19. Refining a small list of personally important skills is important, as from this, I can now go forward by scanning roles that require these skills – which automatically places me in a better situation for finding a job that suits me well, and that I will go on to love.
Values that you stand for can also be listed in priority order since working for a company with opposing values can easily weaken the chances there are for loving your job. Personally, I would enjoy being part of a company that enforces values such as:
- A healthy work/life balance
- Good job security
- The opportunity for personal development
I recognise that finding a job that includes all three values listed, along with matching my own key skills may prove difficult. However, it provides me with a strong foundation to start my search with, along with identifying roles that do not meet any of these criteria (and hence, to avoid!).
Moving on to my own interests, I thought back to past experiences where I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of completing the work. For me, this would be where I have been able to complete field work, for I recognise that I really enjoy being out in the field; taking measurements and recording the results. With this, I can identify that other areas of work – such as sitting behind a computer, analysing the results, is not for me. This way, I can further narrow my search for opportunities by searching for roles that fit my interests and avoiding those that don’t.
In the current day, with jobs becoming increasingly competitive, a high level of motivation is key, to prove to employers that you are the perfect candidate. Motivation can often be hard to find, especially when it comes to work, however, looking at the bigger picture and identifying your longer-term goals can help. This could include:
- Technical or functional competence
- Security and stability
- The challenge offered at the workplace
- The lifestyle available by taking on a certain role
Although job descriptions may not explicitly detail these points, it is often easy to understand what the job is offering. Creating your own small list, including motivational points, can help when comparing which opportunities offer what attributes, which accounts for another key point to help narrow the job search to find something that you will end up loving.
Finally, identifying your own personality can aid the search for jobs, for your preferred ways of behaving will dictate how authentic you feel in the workplace. Different job roles and sectors tend to have prevailing types – and these types can be identified using online tools such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, which will give you a four-letter type, and the typical roles that are most similar to your identified type. Tools like these are not prescriptive but can be useful for building a picture of you – so that it can become easier to map your requirements against jobs and sectors.
All in all, I feel I hugely benefitted from attending the webinar held by the University via My Jobs Online, for I was able to pick up the above points within just a one-hour session. I also had the opportunity to ask any career-related questions to the Consultant running the session, which I found exceptionally useful, especially questions relating to my current subject. I really enjoyed learning about the tips mentioned above in a safe and friendly environment (all for free – perfect!), along with passing on the advice to my friends in a similar position to me. For others wishing to gain the same knowledge, attending this webinar in the future would be ideal, along with visiting prospects.ac.uk to explore the roles and sectors that meet the list of requirements you establish.
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