Just graduated and things don’t go according to plan 

Just graduated and things don’t go according to plan 

For many people, life after graduation doesn’t run as smoothly as they had hoped. The current coronavirus crisis has made this even worse.

Most of you have invested in your higher education with the belief that you will end up in a good ‘graduate’ job in your chosen profession. However, for many reasons this can be easier said than done, for example:

  • You may be disappointed with your degree classification
  • You made the very valid decision to focus on your final year rather than looking for jobs. Now it seems that the jobs are hard to come by
  • You had your heart set on something e.g. Teach First but fail to get selected
  • You have applied for countless jobs and not even had an acknowledgment
  • You have had interviews but not got the job
  • You find that jobs in the profession you hoped to enter are few and far between and that you need further qualifications
  • You decide that you do not want to pursue a career related to what you studied, but are not sure what
  • External circumstances intervene, for example you or someone you are close to becomes ill
  • You may have hoped to stay in the UK to work but find this is not possible
  • You may have hoped to work or travel abroad but find this is not possible
  • You are quite simply confused and don’t know what do next

All of these situations (and there will be many more) will mean disappointment and the need to remain positive, motivated and resilient. They may also have serious implications for practical issues such as finance and housing.

This guide, along with our wide range of ‘How to’ guides will give you ideas and information on how to get through this.

1. Attend to looking after your mental wellbeing

This could be a tough time, so you need to build your resilience to cope and come through on top. Make sure you incorporate the 5 ways to wellbeing into your everyday life, along with a good diet, exercise and healthy sleep patterns. It is very easy to slip into bad habits or ways of coping which will end up making things even worse. Mindfulness can also help you to manage distressing feelings and cope better with difficult situations.

2. Do a wellbeing action plan

This is especially important if you are vulnerable to developing mental health difficulties.

3. Stay engaged and keep in touch with people

There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed if you didn’t get the degree classification you hoped for or haven’t gone straight into a highly paid ‘graduate’ job. Employers these days are looking for potential, attitude and ‘soft skills’ as much as for stellar qualifications. If you are feeling lonely and disconnected – maybe because you have had to go ‘back home’, this is not unusual.

4. Make sure you’ve got a good support system in place

Try not to compare and despair.  It’s easy to imagine that you are the only one not to have a great grad job. A lot of other people will be in the same boat as you. Share ideas and experiences but try to keep positive. If you are struggling with your mental health or don’t know where to get help now you have left university, check out our guides:


5. Think creatively

You may find there are loads of jobs out there in areas you didn’t even know existed. Focus on your transferrable skills. Don’t deselect yourself just because you don’t tick every box. If it’s a job you like the look of and think you could do, go for it.

6. Don’t get disheartened

A great many people take a long time to find a job that suits them. It can be very demoralising to keep applying for jobs and not even get an acknowledgement. Make sure you give each new job application the care and attention it deserves. Ask for help completing applications. Avoid the ‘spray and pray’ approach.

7. Prepare for interviews

If you find that you let yourself down at interviews because of nerves, there are strategies you can use to help. You may even avoid going to interviews because you get so anxious. If this is the case, talk to the company and they should be able to make adjustments that will help you.

8. Use this time to consider what you’d really like to do

Get any job you can to bring in some income while you think about what you really want to do. You have a lot of working life ahead of you.

9. Set yourself up in business

Some people think creatively and set themselves up, even if only temporarily, in a range of activities. This helps bring in an income until they find their ideal graduate job. Of course, you may find that you prefer the flexibility of being self-employed. Some people are naturally good at this, others would find it very difficult. So again – don’t compare and despair if this is not something that you can do.

10. Impact of Covid-19

This is an unusual time and has turned many people’s lives upside down across the world. It is not helped by all the uncertainty. Many of your plans will have been derailed by this, including plans to go travelling. This is a disappointing, frustrating and, for many, frightening time.

11. And finally …be kind to yourself

Don’t beat yourself up. This is something many of us prone to do – we kick ourselves when we are down. This just makes bad matters worse. This is a time when you should be extra kind to yourself as it is tough and difficult.



Life after lockdown Wellbeing Action Plan

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have all been through enormous change and some of us may experience further uncertainty and change in the coming weeks and months

View resource

Work from home wellbeing action plan

This is a personalised, practical tool that we can all use whether or not we have a mental health issue. There are sections for you to complete, including a positive daily plan.

View resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

View resource

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