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‘Positive thinking’ that age-old piece of advice, is perhaps the last thing that you want to hear for the umpteenth time whilst battling in a competitive graduate job market. Whilst we fully endorse the power of positive thinking, we know from experience that practical help is the key to feeling positive and achieving success. 
The first step is to create a plan of action; establishing a plan with distinct areas and action points will help create a sense of control and empowerment – one of the most effective personal tools when dealing with situations beyond your control. Here are some good areas to include:
Skill up
The job search process is an opportunity to learn new skills and gain additional experience. Try to step out of your comfort zone; this may be cold calling or a public speaking opportunity to build confidence ahead of interviews. You’ll find these results all the more rewarding.
Additional training demonstrates a continued desire for personal development, as well as filling any gaps in skills. Microsoft’s Virtual Academy or are just two resources that have a range of useful free courses.
Learning a language even just up to intermediate level is a great addition to a CV; in a global market a language will help you stand out and potentially opens doors.
Find volunteer work where you can gain useful transferable workplace skills; look for opportunities to work with a database, website or in administration.
Starting modules in professional qualifications for your chosen sector shows commitment and could get you ahead more quickly.
Maximise every networking opportunity both virtually and face-to-face. Don’t hide behind social media if there are face-time opportunities instead. Connect with recruiters and employers in person at a job fair, rather than sending them a LinkedIn request. Use your professional network to make introductions for you and ideally referrals for company jobs. Many jobs never reach recruiters; they are filled directly or through referrals.
Keep extending your personal social network too, is a good way to connect with like-minded people with similar interests; interests also open up new potential career paths.
Tap into your university or college alumni connections.
Use social media wisely, if you are not on LinkedIn, then sign up. Use Twitter and Facebook to highlight interesting things you are doing that are ‘on-brand’, i.e. fundraising events or sports – and delete those Fresher’s Week pictures!
Mind, Body and Soul
Keep up to speed with both national, international and industry specific news; however, keep in mind that bad news makes headlines, so try to not to let the press cast their shadow of economic gloom over you.
Show your entrepreneurial spirit and initiative by setting up a blog on a free platform, advertising skills on or, or open an online shop on Etsy. Self-generated work has huge benefits.
Fitness and health is a major stress-busting ally – use it to your advantage. Feeling well and knowing that you look your best, will give you the confidence to attend an interview at a drop of a hat.
Forget Facebook; create a real live wall. Surround a mirror with awards, sports medals, photos of graduation day, anything and everything connected with your achievements. Stand back and soak up the feel good reflection, whenever you need a boost.
Find time to do something you enjoy that has nothing to do with job applications, watch a few TED Talks or read an inspirational autobiography – something that’s food for the soul.
Our final tried and tested tip, is to set short-term objectives and celebrate achieving them. These steps will take you closer to your main goal and make it infinitely more attainable – and you’ll feel positive along the way!

– Jenny Hargrave 

If you want to learn more about using LinkedIn as a networking tool read our article How to use LinkedIn to kickstart your graduate career, or if you want more information on using social media check out our previous blog post, The Graduate Job Hunter’s Guide to Social Media.

About the Author

  • Name: Jenny Hargrave
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