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Top tips for students: How to land that first job after graduating

Making the transition from being a student to the world of work can seem daunting. Recent graduate Chris Martey offers some pointers.

Top tips for students: How to land that first job after graduating
So, you’ve made it into your final year of university – well done! Along with placements, assignment deadlines and exams, getting that first physio job is a prospect that looms ever closer.
 
As a newly-qualified physiotherapist, I was in your shoes less than a year ago. We all go through it, but how can you put yourself in the best position to land your first job? Before offering my tips, here are a couple of preliminary ideas that might help.  

Get started

First, you should draw on both your university and the CSP resources for preparing and beginning the job hunt. The CSP has a wide range of resources and information papers on employment issues. Visit www.csp.org.uk  Although the final year can be stressful, try to enjoy it and make the most of all the opportunities that arise. Good luck!

Be brave

Remember that employers are looking for someone to, in a sense, fix their problem – a vacancy. They need you almost as much as you need them, so make sure the job is right for you. Try to resist the temptation to jump into the first job that’s offered. Know what your aims are, the type of work setting you would enjoy, the professional development opportunities offered there and the type of career you want to create.  

Be flexible

It goes without saying: the larger your parameters for possible jobs, the more jobs will be available to you. However, that’s not to say you should just apply for each and every job out there. Be selective and be willing to travel and perhaps relocate. Flexibility shows an employer that you’re committed to finding the right job for you. 

Be proactive

Start looking, planning and even applying for jobs before you finish. Remember that you will need to register with both your professional body and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), so sign up to job websites, speak to people and get a feel for what work is available. Print off the HCPC registration guidance ready to send off as soon as possible. Also, some employ people on band 4 posts while they await HCPC registration so don’t be put off applying early. Above all, make sure you do your research on the trust or company you’re hoping to work for. Twitter and other social media sites can be useful for this. However, employers may ‘Google’ you before meeting you, so make sure your online presence is professional! 

CPD

This is a key topic. Attending conferences, networking and building a comprehensive portfolio will work in your favour and could set you apart from your peers. So don’t leave this until your final few weeks, use the guidance that your university and the CSP offer and keep it up to date. When constructing your continuing professional development (CPD) folder it is useful to know what’s currently influencing healthcare and to ideas about the challenges facing the profession.

Revise – don’t underestimate knowing your stuff

This is fundamental. No matter how well organised and impressive your CPD folder, it’s important not to overlook the basics. Having the knowledge and skills required, and being able to demonstrate competence in practice, will certainly help you get that first job. But also remember, they’re not looking for the finished article. Employers will want a graduate with bags of potential and enthusiasm to go with it – someone who demonstrates safe practice and a willingness to learn.

Bank contracts

Bank contracts are a good way to ’get your foot in the door’, or perhaps offer a more flexible employment option that might suit your circumstances. But be aware that ‘bank’ contracts are zero hours contracts by another name. Although they can be attractive to some people, they do not guarantee work, you have few rights and they do not contribute to your length of service. fl

What to do when you‘re offered a job?

Celebrate! But when you are offered a job the most important thing is to read and re-read your contract. Put any questions in writing and ensure you get written replies. This includes your pay, terms and any flexible or part time working arrangements agreed at interview. It may be intimidating to pose questions but a good employer will be keen that you fully understand, and are happy with, the terms of your contract. 
 
Descriptions of employment status such as ‘associate’ or ‘partner’ are generally meaningless. Obtain written confirmation that you are an employee to ensure the associated rights such as sick pay, redundancy and maternity rights.
 

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