Our guides for employers and candidates on how to navigate the entry-level job market.

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Looking for Your Second Job After University

Tara Sallis

Your first graduate job will probably last a few years. Ideally, you will have stayed in your job for around three years and will have built skills, networks and ideas about what you want to do going forward. Even if you are leaving your graduate job sooner than this, the same rules apply when it comes to looking for your second job after university!

It is common for recent graduates to switch careers when they move jobs as you are still getting to grips with what is involved with different roles and what they are suited to. TalentPool specialises in SME and start-up recruitment and has lots of full-time jobs in London and other major cities available for recent graduates with 0-5 years of experience so we can help you find a new role! But first, here are 3 questions to ask yourself when you are looking for your second graduate job.

Are you sure you want to leave?

If you have been hired by a company as a recent graduate, they have invested in you and they will likely want you to stay. For this reason, even if you are looking for a career change, your current employer might be willing to give you the change you are looking for. Make sure before you make a snap decision that you have spoken to your employer and let them know that you would like a different role. It will always be a lot easier to move to a new job in the same company than to start applying all over again at new companies.

If you are still set on a change, then it is worth thinking about what you are looking for from your career. What do you feel like you are missing out on and where do you want to see yourself heading? Also consider that many roles, especially in sectors like law and consultancy, require you to build up a few years of experience doing very junior work before you get a role that you might enjoy a lot more so it might be worth sticking it out!

If you decide not to leave right away or you are not sure what to do, do not worry too much! Lots of people switch jobs, and even careers, successfully at a far later stage in their working life, so if you change your mind again further down the line there are always options.

What do you want from your next job?

Try and establish which elements of your old job you enjoyed and what you are looking to change. At this stage, you should have a better idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are and what you want to get out of a job. It’s important to know what’s important to you and what is less important. For examples, some people will be motivated most of all by a high salary, whereas others will get their satisfaction from the fact that their role involves meeting and having conversations with new people.

Some areas for you to think about when you’re deciding whether or not you’d like to change jobs are:

  • The company’s sector
  • Your salary
  • The people you work with
  • How challenged you feel
  • How passionate you feel about the company’s cause
  • Your opportunities for development
  • The hours
  • The location

Once you’ve established what it is you do and do not like about your current role, it’s important to determine whether these are:

  • Temporary issues – For example, the initial work you get in a role is not always the best work. Perhaps as a junior account manager, you feel there is a lack of responsibility, but if you wait for another year you will be promoted into the role of senior account manager where the work will become more enjoyable.
  • Issues that can be resolved – For example, you are after a salary increase and are looking for roles with a higher salary. If this is the only thing that you are not satisfied within your current role then we advise you have a conversation with your manager about this. As long as it’s within reason, your current employer will normally be open to having a discussion about increasing your salary, whether it’s at that moment or in a few month’s time once you have reached a certain goal. You should also take into account the fact that the longer you stay in a certain company, the more likely you are to be put up for promotion in the near future and, therefore, be given a salary increase or bonus.
  • Issues that won’t change – For example, you do not like the pressure or hours of your role, and there is no scope for your employer to resolve this.

How can I use my previous experience?

You will have gained a lot of experience from your first graduate job and picked up many new skills too. You will probably have attended some training courses or sessions, learnt how to use new software, gained valuable experience in presenting or refined your language skills. Sometimes, it can be easy to forget how much you have learnt so it’s can be helpful for you take a step back and remember how little you knew when you first started the role to see how far you’ve come.

When searching for your new role, it’s vital that you have an up to date CV. Spend time considering and listing all the experience and skills you have picked up in your previous job and adjusting your CV accordingly. If you are dramatically looking to change career direction, then make sure you explain your reasons behind this either in a short profile at the top of your CV or in your covering letter. Think about the skills and experience you already have and how these can be applied to the role you are hoping to move into.

For example, if you were switching from a design role to a marketing job highlight your ability to create new ideas and work with a team to complete a project. If you are in an operations role but you want to become a sales manager highlight your organisational skills and ability manage multiple tasks at one time. If you want to move up in the same sector, then simply emphasise your achievements and where you want to go next.

Lots of recent graduates consider a job change as they find their feet in the world of work. Consider your options carefully and do not rule out the possibility of staying put at your current company by making changes to your role. If you do go ahead with the move, then make sure to determine exactly what it is that you’d like to get out of your new role, update your CV and start applying!