In my role as a Talent Acquisition Consultant, I speak to a lot of graduates. Recent graduates, upcoming graduates and those affectionately known as ‘second jobbers’. These are people looking for their second job, having found themselves in a role that they’ve since realised is perhaps not the right one for them.
Whether that’s in the recruitment industry, the legal world, a lettings agency or even in family businesses, these young people have come to the realisation that your first job isn’t necessarily the one you will stay in for your entire career.
In my many conversations, I often hear two very specific fears:
“If I don’t land my dream job within a couple of years of leaving uni, I’ll end up stuck doing something I hate”
“But if I leave my job within six months of starting, I’ll get a reputation as a job-hopping journeyman!”
And I’ve seen the knock-on effect of these fears first-hand, when I often speak to candidates in their mid-twenties who feel they’ve pigeonholed themselves down a cul-de-sac in their career that they fear they have no escape from.
This is not true.
A vast number of people, whether they attended university or not, are prospering in roles that they never expected to find themselves in. A friend of mine studied history at university and became a teaching assistant shortly after graduating. After a little while, he completely switched roles to work in immigration control and spent a couple of years there before moving into a role at the home office. If you were to have asked him a few years ago if he saw himself working the role he is now, let alone is it the one he aimed for when he left university, he would politely laugh in your face.
I myself worked in the hospitality industry, running pubs until I was almost 26 and didn’t apply to go to university when I was in Sixth Form. Yet by applying for an entry-level role, and working hard to learn quickly about my field, I sit here 18 months later as the Talent Acquisition Consultant of an international recruitment consultancy.
My friend and I come from one of the first generations to believe that you need a degree to get anywhere in the world, and the same generation that believes that if you don’t get a job that is strictly relevant to what you studied, then it is a waste of your degree.
This is also not true.
Especially in industries such as recruitment, what’s written on your CV can often account for very little. What many hiring managers are actually looking for are the ‘soft skills’, the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and productively with other people. The skills to debate or to research and analyse which many people gain at university (even if it’s just in the vein of how to interact with people), to fact-find or influence, are all massively important in a job as a recruiter.
Admittedly, my example may be biased by working in recruitment myself, but there aren’t any children running around saying that they want to be recruitment consultants when they grow up. There aren’t any college or sixth form students telling their careers advisors that they want to be recruiters and there isn’t a degree in recruitment consultancy.
Industries like recruitment are the ones that you either stumble upon or you have a friend or relative that does it and is doing quite well for themselves. As I already mentioned, I didn’t even find recruitment till I was in my mid-20’s and have managed to make something of it relatively quickly, in a role I would never have put myself as doing even as recently as a couple of years ago. I didn’t hate my old job, on the contrary I loved it, but it wasn’t paying me the amount I would have liked and the hours were unsociable. So I decided to take a leap, and now here I sit, writing about the subject from the other side.
So, if you’re about to leave school or university and, like me when I was your age, have no idea of what you want to do, don’t fret. There’s always another job out there that will get the best out of who you are and what you can do.