One of my daughters is now living at home with us after gaining her degree. She is facing that challenging post-university period when the summer partying is over, her friends are scattered up and down the country and the cold reality of ‘what’s next?’ takes centre stage. Sound familiar? If that’s you too, what practical actions can you take? What mindset would best serve you right now?

Here are 5 tips for any recent graduate transitioning to work:

  • Find out the rules of the game – The best way to find out what employers expect is to dive in at the deep end with work experience through internships, work placements, volunteering or temporary work. Get warm introductions from within your network starting with your raving fans including your friends, your friends’ friends, university professors and lecturers.
  • Prepare well – Show you care about the organisations you speak with. Give it your all. A big criticism from employers is about graduates’ lack of research before interviews and not enough preparation. Tell them something even they don’t know about their business!
  • Manage your expectations – Find out typical salaries in your industry and company reviews from the people already employed there. Be prepared to roll your sleeves up – it’s not for life. Define success in your own terms not someone else’s. Don’t be afraid to fail – it’s how you learn what to rule out or rule in. You are no longer just responsible for yourself, getting assignments in and partying. Change the language from ‘I’ to ‘We’ or the ‘client’ or ‘user’. Employers want team players who know how and when to follow.
  • Create a 6 months plan – Forget the 5 year plan. Prioritise a practical short-term one to position yourself with employers through establishing your online and face-to-face professional identity. Make yourself visible, attract employers like a magnet and articulate who you are through online profiles and networking.
  • Tap into Alumni, find a mentor – Pair up with recent alumni and ask them to mentor you. You can find out on LinkedIn details of the graduates from your university, and even the same course, who are now working in a company that interests you. There is nothing more motivating than having someone truly believe in you and being alongside you to talk things through. Find out how they made the transition to professional life, what worked for them, what pitfalls to avoid, what their jobs are like, and insight or guidance into a particular career or industry. They will know what you are going through if they have graduated recently. Be a brilliant mentee.

Job hunting is a job in itself – don’t let anyone tell you different. Show your work ethic to future employers by the way you get stuck into the job hunt.

What one action will you take today to help your transition to work?