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Don't panic! It's never too late to start your job hunt

Don't panic! It's never too late to start your job-hunt

If you've been putting off your graduate job-hunt because you don't know where to begin and you think it is too late, now is the time to take stock and get started.

It's never easy to grapple with life's big decisions. Sometimes even minor, everyday decisions such as ‘where shall we go on Friday night?’, or ‘what can I get my mum for Christmas?’, can result in hours of paralysing doubt. It's hardly surprising that what looks like the biggest decision of your life – choosing a career – should have caused endless grief to generations of students and graduates.

You're not alone: other students feel it too

As panic sets in during your final year (or when you graduate) and you feel that you haven't got a clue what you want to do, you need to remember one thing that'll keep you calm: you're not alone. There are many other students in the same boat as you, your friends among them, although they may wish to keep a lid on their own private job-hunting fears.

Remember also that uncertainty is normal. It's natural not to have a clear idea of what you want to do and it's also natural to put off thinking about it. So don't be too hard on yourself.

To get career ideas, start with yourself

There are certain simple measures you can take to make your choice of a career as logical as possible. To start you off, you need to look inwards as well as outwards. This ain't easy – self-analysis is almost as painful as root canal treatment - but it's the basis of all sensible career decision making. It's the only way you can make effective applications to the right employers, and the only way you can make sure you get the job that was made for you.

Examine your values

Think carefully about the things are that are most important to you in terms of a career. Are you looking for security? Adventure? Variety? Money? Travel? To help others? The consequences of value mismatches can be serious. You may have the perfect skills to consider teaching as a career but if money is what you crave, then you may end up dissatisfied. If you value your social life, don't join a company which expects you to work 14 hours a day or a profession where you could be commuting internationally every week.

The career choice process can be represented as a continuous cycle of four stages:

1. Self awareness

2. Opportunity awareness

3. Decision making

4. Taking action

You can start the process anywhere, but most people will begin by becoming more self-aware, because knowing what your skills and values are is a good basis for moving on to consider a range of opportunities.

Start exploring your values, strengths and motivations using the TARGETjobs Careers Report. Our career planning tool will take you through a number of simple assessments that help you to understand your skills and working style. You'll also get a list of job ideas to consider.

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