I regularly get contacted by parents of graduates, a year or so on from graduation they want to help their son or daughter, who has no idea what to do or how to get a job.  I often think life would have been much simpler if we encouraged our sons and daughters to think about their future right now!

Far too many young people wait till they’ve gained their degree or later.  Too late they find out it was the wrong degree, the wrong time for them to go to university, they didn’t make the best use of their time, and they have done nothing to enhance their CV.

Is university the answer?

As costs increase, young people, and their parents need to become active in making a choice.  Taking a degree should not be a passive choice, the automatic next step after A levels, but something chosen to help achieve career and personal goals.

If a young person is passionate on a subject and wants to expand their knowledge then a degree is likely to meet personal goals and expectations.  But it won’t necessarily get them a place on a graduate training scheme, or a job. Much more is needed such as developing work relevant skills and building a CV.

Potential students should think hard and ask questions before deciding on a university career

  • What will I get from going to university?
  • What transferable skills will be gained?
  • What knowledge will be learned?
  • How will I grow and develop as a person?
  • How will this degree and university increase my chance of getting a job?

Should I get a job instead?

It’s not easy to get a job at the moment, but the younger someone is the cheaper they are to employ and grants can be available to organisations which can contribute to your salary.  Don’t turn your nose up at a job in e.g. Wetherspoon’s or McDonalds; both have proven track records of promoting from within.

Often it’s less important what you do than that you gain basic working skills such as

  • Being part of a team
  • Showing up on time
  • Completing a task even when you don’t want to do it
  • Working with customers
  • Communication skills

These can be useful in any job. Many times a year or so of work experience after A levels helps in making a choice. A degree can also be studied part time alongside a job, that’s what I did!

How to decide what to do?

Whether you are deciding what to study or what to do to earn your income, you need to think about what you enjoy doing, what sorts of jobs will be available and really understanding who you are.

Think about what you enjoy.  Do you like creative interests, are you considered to be non conforming, do you like self expression?  Are you more interested in working with people?  Are you seen as caring and helpful, do you like collaborative working environments?  Are you careful and conscientious, do you like paying attention to detail do you like to collect and manage information?  Are you analytical, interested in science, interested in research and independent thinking?  Do you like to be physically active, are you seen as practical, would you like to operate equipment?  Or is it business that interests you, would you like to sell products or ideas, are you seen as assertive and confident?

Then think about your personality?  Are you outgoing and sociable or more reserved with a preference for a backroom role.  Do you want to be seen as an expert or do you prefer variety.  To what extent do you want to focus on detail or ideas?

Finally you may want to take an in-depth ability assessment such as the Highlands Ability Battery.  This series of ‘work samples’ helps you to understand what comes easy to you and you can build a career around these strengths.

You may be able to work out the answers alone, or you may need the help of an experienced careers coach.

Looking to the future

The world of work has changed; no longer can you climb a career ladder with one company.  Jobs are changing so fast that how you earn your living in 10 years may be in a job that doesn’t even exist now.

Even if the job does exist, you have to keep yourself up to date.  The experienced marketing manager who knows nothing on social media is likely to find him/herself unemployable.  The punch card operator from 30 years ago had to retrain.  Think more about your strengths, the skills and abilities you have and passions and interests will help to keep you marketable.

Final words

Would a career coach help?  Think about how much it costs to raise a child?  How much will it potentially cost to go to university?  A career coach experienced at working with young people will ensure that any choices are well thought through and increase your son/daughters confidence level.

I help young people through career coaching either alone or combined with highly reputable assessments.   A popular choice is the Student Assessment Package.

I also work with under graduates, coaching them to create a job search strategy, plan ways to enhance their CV and much more.

Here’s some recent feedback from my Amazing People facebook page

I’ve completed The Gold Programme with Denise and I’m still working with her through coaching sessions.   Essentially I’ve gone form having no idea what kind of career I want after university and being quite depressed about it, to having a clear job role to aim for which I know firs in with my interests, personality and natural abilities.   not only that but I’ve got a comprehensive ‘action plan’ to follow between now and finishing university which will build my CV to the extent necessary to stand a very good chance of achieving this job when I apply.  Denise is also currently rewriting/ designing my CV for me so it stands out from the crowd. In short I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Denise to anyone, particularly graduates and current students. She has been fantastic and if anyone is considering working with Denise and wants to know more about what you’ll get out of it from a current client feel free to drop me a msg on facebook.

If you would like to discuss how Denise can be of help please don’t hesitate to schedule a complimentary discussion.

Brought to you by Denise Taylor, Award Winning Career Coach, Chartered Psychologist, Registered Guidance Practitioner.  Author of 3 career books including ‘How to get a job in a recession’ and ‘Now you’ve been shortlisted’  https://www.amazingpeople.co.uk | 01684 772 888 | twitter.c

Published On: September 16th, 2013 / Categories: Students and Graduates / Tags: , , , , /


  1. Lola McDowell March 28, 2015 at 12:16 am

    My twenty year old son has lost his confidence and has no idea what career would be apt for him. I am looking for was to help him.

    • Denise Taylor March 28, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Hi Lola, I’d be happy to help can you email me and I’ll send you some information to review and we can set up a time to talk next week.

      • Penny Crocker April 14, 2015 at 2:34 pm

        Snap. I have a 20 year old in the same predicament. Please can you also send me your info? Thanks.

Leave A Comment