This is a guest post by the Careers team at St George’s.
Whether you are soon to graduate or perhaps you are a student considering your future, applying for placements or simply looking for part-time work, the pandemic has had an enormous impact on recruitment. Nevertheless, the global spotlight on healthcare and scientific research offers career opportunities for students studying and graduating at St George’s. The importance of what you know and do has never been so critical to all our lives. Undeniably, these are challenging times for job searching as uncertainty is the theme of the day. Rest assured that whatever struggle you are going through now, your career goals and ambitions are still attainable. There are plenty of constructive things you can do to give yourself the best chance now and for the longer term, when we hope the current situation will be part of history, gone but not forgotten.
Here are some of our top tips on how to handle your career planning in this current situation and turn some negatives into positives.
Set a schedule – allocate time in your schedule for career management. This can be a neglected area in our lives. In fact in normal times, people spend more time planning holidays than their careers. With no concrete travel plans on the horizon, much more time can be given to this life-changing preparation. It also means that you can feel reassured that you have given thought and time to your future, and you are in control. Use the Careers pages on Canvas where I guarantee you will find something that will change your life, even in a small way!
Take a step back and be kind to yourself – take time to Explore, Plan, Apply. At St George’s, ‘Explore, Plan and Apply’ is the approach and mantra for career planning and management. This means starting from the beginning to ‘explore’ what different possibilities exist, what do you enjoy, what are you good at? What are your values? There are lots of online tools to help you analyse yourself and the options available to direct your research – options that inspire, and motivate you, or at least provide the stepping stone to your preferred career areas (you may have several!).
Don’t limit yourself to local options – look more broadly than your immediate area or London. You can always return to our beautiful metropolis in future once you have some solid experience under your belt and the cost of housing can be less in other areas too.
Stand out from the Crowd…tailor your CV and application. Students have said when the pressure is on to find a job, there can be a tendency to send off as many duplicate CVs or applications as possible, some quoting 20, 50 or even more, hoping that one will stick. Time and time again, employers have said how this approach does not work. To help you stand out from the crowd, read the job description and person specification, research what the company do, their values and reflect this in your application. Every employer and job will be different so one size does not fit all. There is more advice here in the Apply section on the Careers Canvas module and do book an appointment with the Careers Service if you want to talk through your approach or get your application checked.
Build your network of professionals – Your career will develop and evolve. Develop your network of people working in sectors you are interested in. Check the St George’s Alumni pages on LinkedIn or the SGUL alumni bios to find inspiration, make like-minded contacts with similar interests and gain knowledge
Develop your skills – As you explore different career paths or expand your network, you may feel there are skills that you would like to improve or develop. Perhaps there is an area that you have been curious to try. There are a large number of free (and otherwise) online courses, and what better way to show your motivation to a new employer, while developing your own confidence in yourself, really feeling like you are managing your own development – it is certainly a win/win. Don’t forget too that you can keep track of the skills you are developing through the St George’s Skills and Recognition Award.
Look after your mental health – You are not alone if you are feeling gloomy and struggling. So many are under strain in these uncertain times. Do get help. Here are some organisations you can contact to support you through this time.
Think longer term – In 2030 what will you be glad you did in 2020/21? Developed your research skills and specialisms? Improved your digital skills? Extended your network of professional and scientific contacts? Improved your health/stress management? Experimented with something different?
There are lots more tips here on making the most of this time.
Look out for details about St George’s Uni Careers Week 1-6 March 2021, coming soon on all St George’s social media accounts and platforms.