Why Your Graduate Job Hunt Will Fail Without This Simple Action

graduate focus

This post will show you:

  • How To Kill Procrastination And Turn Into A Job Hunting Machine
  • Why Pen And Paper Will Make You 33% More Likely To Succeed
  • Which 4 Things Will Give You Job Search Superpowers

But first, a short story:

Florence Chadwick was a long distance swimmer and famously the first woman to swim the English channel in both directions.

florence chadwick

Florence Chadwick

In 1952, Florence attempted to swim The Catalina Channel in California, which is known for its particularly rough waters.

On the morning of the swim, a thick fog set in that covered most of the area, Florence had doubts she was able to make it, but still swam despite the fact she was unable to see the finish line.

During the swim she was struggling badly and unable to concentrate, asked to be pulled out of the water. She later found out she’d given up with only one mile left to swim.

A year later, Florence tried again and succeeded on her second attempt – making her the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel.

At this point, you may be wondering: great story, but what does this have to do with job seeking?

Florence failed at her first attempt for the same reason many job seekers fail: She didn’t have a goal to focus on.

If you’re looking for a graduate job, goal setting is massively important – it can make or break your job search.

Setting clearly defined goals is hugely important in making sure your job search is a successful one.

As you’ve probably read from my previous posts, it took me a long time to find a graduate job – almost a year, and in that time I made a lot of mistakes: but the biggest screw up by far was my lack of goal setting

No goals meant I didn’t have a plan – so I was applying for anything and everything that came up, but getting very few calls back and almost no interviews.

Without a job search goal its easy to feel dejected

Without a job search goal its easy to feel dejected

Not having any goals meant I simply didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going and because of that I started to feel more and more frustrated and depressed.

If I had set myself some clearly defined goals from the start of my job search, I could have saved myself a ton of grief (and lots of wasted time too!) and gotten a graduate job a lot sooner!


4 Reasons Why Goal Setting Will Give You Super Powers

ability to fly not guaranteed

Ability to fly not guaranteed





I once heard someone say that ‘not having a goal is like shooting at a target with a blindfold on’. When I started my graduate job search, my lack of goals meant I was applying for anything and everything – I had no focus and got nowhere.

When you have clearly defined goals however, it’s like having a GPS system in your car: you know where you are going and what you are aiming for. Goals force you to be clear about what you want to achieve and that brings you much closer to getting a graduate job.


motivated graduates

During the early days of my job hunting journey, I became demotivated and sulky because of a lack of focus. And who wants to hire a sulky grad? It’s a horrible way to feel and an even more horrible way to look for a job.

To gain a competitive edge, you need to be alert, ready and switched on: you can’t do that when you’re demotivated: having goals stops you from falling into a rut and it allows you to be super motivated when you strive for your set targets everyday.

According to an American study motivation is a key factor in a successful job search. Being more motivated means you get more done, you find more opportunities and you have a better chance of getting a graduate job – fast.

3) You Become More Productive

productive graduates

Time and time again, studies have proven that goal setting makes people more productive. When I lacked clearly defined goals and was applying to all kinds of vacancies, I was busy, but I wasn’t productive – I was wasting time.

Having goals and being more productive as a result, means you use your time better, you can make more phone calls, you send out more CV’s and therefore you have a better chance of obtaining a graduate position.

4) Gain Discipline and Reduce Procrastination


Goals will keep you accountable: without goals and deadlines it’s easier to slack off and procrastinate. When you have a specific result to aim for, you will be more conscious of trying to reach it and you will force yourself to do what is necessary, even if it’s boring or unpleasant. Having goals will force you to get off your sofa and start job hunting.

 Setting Effective Goals


You should have a clear goal in mind – and write it down.

Aim for a target, think about it carefully and look at where you want to go. Get a pen, and a piece of paper to brainstorm options and consider the following:

  • What kind of career you want e.g. do you want to be a copywriter or a software developer, or a management consultant?
  • What kind of field you want to work in, e.g. perhaps IT, Healthcare, or Media?
  • Have a target salary range in mind.
  • Think of the type of company you want to work for; for instance, if you’re. looking at company culture – would you prefer an established and professional firm, or a creative and innovation driven company, or maybe you’re atttracted to the spirited dynamics of a startup?
  • Have a target location, e.g. mainly looking at graduate job opportunities in Birmingham and West Midlands

Look at timescales: Think about when you would like to achieve your goal

goal deadlinesHave a strict deadline that will keep you accountable, but also keep it realistic.

For example, instead of having a goal such as ‘I aim to get a job as a graduate investment banker by tomorrow.’

You’re better off having a more achievable goal such as ‘I aim to get a job offer for a graduate investment banker position within the next 4 weeks’.


Keep it specific:
specific goals for gradsStudies have shown that specific goals lead to better performance and a greater chance of achievement. So avoid being too broad in your goals.

Saying ‘ I want a job’ or ‘I want a job in Marketing or Travel’ is far too wishy washy. Instead, aim for a specific profession: e.g. ‘I want to be a copywriter or a Travel Writer’ is a lot more helpful (and will save you a lot of sorrow).


How To Set Goals

graduates goal settingThe easiest way to set a goal is via the S.M.A.R.T system. You may have already come across this from sports or business. S.M.A.R.T stand for the following:

  • Specificsmart goals
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic/Relevant
  • Time Bound


Let’s look at what each term means:

  • Specific = Goal must be specific e.g. I want a graduate job as a copy writer
  • Measurable =Goal must be Measurable e.g. I want to achieve it in the next 4 weeks
  • Achievable = Goal must be achievable = so aim for a realistic goal
  • Relevant= Goal must be relevant = for example getting a graduate job as a copy writer relevant if you’ve got a Degree in English
  • Time Bound= Goal must have a time-frame e.g I aim to get a job offer by within one month.

Break Big Goals Down

Getting a graduate job is a pretty big endeavour – so break it down into smaller steps.

If your overall goal is ‘I want to get a graduate job as a copywriter within one month’ – you should have daily and weekly goals to assist you.

For example, my daily goal is making 30 calls, my weekly goal is sending 15 cv’s to managers I’ve spoken to. This will simplify the process and make things much easier for you.

Some Tips To Help You Set Goals Effectively

Write Your Goals Down


Writing your goals down makes you more effective and keeps you motivated: It also stimulates your brain – as a recent study by the Dominican University of California has discovered, those who have written goals are 33% more likely to succeed. To get maximum benefits, write down your goals using pen and paper, not on computer.


Write Down 3 Reasons Not To Give Up

Remind yourself of reasons not to give up

Remind yourself of reasons not to give up

Under your SMART goals, also write three solid reasons why you want to achieve your goals. This will act as motivation when your graduate job hunt gets tough.

It works like this: write down your goal – and then write down why that reason is important to you.

For instance, I used to state that it was important for me to get a graduate job because I didn’t want all the hard work at university to have been for nothing.

Similarly your reason could be salary related or interest related: e.g. ‘It’s important for me to get a graduate job because I want a decent salary‘,

Or ‘It’s important for me to get a graduate job as a developer because I want to pursue my passion for software development’.

Whatever your reasons, write them down and review them often. Keeping these three reasons to hand will help you stay motivated when the going gets tough.


Develop A Routine
routineWhen goal setting it is important that you follow your daily and weekly targets by treating your job hunt as a full time job – keep yourself accountable and do your best.

Track your progress
Check progress daily and weekly to stay on track and remain motivated. If you spot that something isn’t working don’t be afraid to switch it up or to change the goal posts.

You can do this by keeping a job search diary: track interviews, applications, conversations with employers, assess what went right, what went wrong, what you could change and always seek to learn from your previous experiences.

Now it’s your turn. Go on – set your own goals!


If you enjoyed this post, you might like:
-How I Got A Graduate Job In 3 Days
-This Is Why You Haven’t Gotten A Graduate Job Yet – 8 Reasons You Haven’t Been Hired

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