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May 16, 2023, by pcxha8

Building Confidence Whilst Job Hunting as a Postgraduate

By Hiba Azim, postgraduate researcher

So, you’ve completed your thesis and now you’re faced with the daunting task of job hunting.

You log in to LinkedIn and come across a post from someone you know from your undergraduate days who just got promoted to a senior management position. You can’t help but feel a twinge of self-doubt as you congratulate them and wonder if you’re qualified for the jobs you want. Then you move on to Indeed and realise that many interesting and well paid roles require years of industry experience and specific qualifications. It’s natural to feel uncertain, especially if you’re considering a non-academic role.

However, you mustn’t let these doubts take over, as they can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, follow these tips to build your confidence while job hunting.

Expect rejection, embrace it, learn from it, and move on

Rejection is a normal part of the job hunting process. Even the most qualified candidates often face multiple rejections before landing an interview or receiving an offer. It’s important not to take it personally, although it’s easier said than done. Try to get feedback for every rejection to learn from the experience and improve your future applications. Remember that job hunting can be a numbers game, especially in the current job market. Don’t let rejection discourage you from continuing your search.

Narrow down your options

A helpful strategy to reduce the number of rejections is to be selective in your job applications. When you’re in a rush to find a job and your thesis submission deadline is looming, it’s tempting to apply for any role you come across, even if you’re not entirely interested or suited for it. However, this can lead to spending more time on applications and feeling disheartened by increased rejections. Instead, be clear about what you want from a role and why. Ideally, have two or three types of roles in mind and customise your CVs and cover letters for each.

Aim high for your dream role

If you come across a dream role that you have most of the essential criteria for, but you’re not sure if you’ll match up to other candidates, don’t hesitate to apply anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? Even if you get rejected, the experience of applying for or interviewing for your dream role will only make you stronger for future applications. It’s a great way to challenge yourself, and your passion and unique skillset can often compensate for not meeting all the generic “essential criteria.” Just be prepared that it could also result in landing your dream role and having to rise to the challenge, but those are the kind of problems you want to have.

Remember, this is just your next step, not your final destination

After spending years in education, it’s common to feel pressure to find the most exciting, well-paid job that reflects all the hard work you’ve put in. However, it’s okay to feel uncertain about your next steps after leaving academia. Your career, much like a PhD, is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you’re genuinely interested in the jobs you’re applying for and remember that you can always try something new multiple times. Most people don’t find their perfect fit right after leaving education, and that’s okay.

Seek professional consultation

One of the best ways to boost your confidence during job hunting is to seek guidance from a professional. The UoN Careers teams have years of experience in supporting students. They can help you understand the types of roles you’re searching for, assess how well your skillset matches up, and provide valuable advice on strengthening your applications. Booking a consultation with a postgraduate careers adviser can make a world of difference in your job search.

Check out the dedicated Careers webpages for postgraduate researchers for more support and guidance. 

Posted in Applying For JobsPhD StudentsPostgraduate Taught Students