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Why you shouldn’t settle for any graduate job

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As a graduate, making the transition to the “real world” can be tough.

You’re part of a generation where the competition for graduate jobs is incredibly high, and where experience is as valuable as qualifications.

When the going gets tough, standards tend to drop – and consequently, graduates will often settle for a role they know isn’t their dream career.

In turn, those who settle for graduate jobs they really dislike will often lose motivation, and get stuck in a rut for years after.

You don’t necessarily have to find your “dream job” straight out of university (for most people, even working out what this is takes years) – but it is important to enjoy the work you do on a daily basis.

Why do graduates settle for a job?

There are plenty of good reasons why people apply for graduate jobs they’re not interested in, and end up settling for a career they don’t want.

Below are some of the common reasons why graduates settle for a job; and why you should carefully consider every role you apply for on your graduate job search.

1. The role has a good salary

After leaving university, the majority of graduates are in a more difficult position financially than any other generation, due to the huge hike in tuition fees a few years ago.

Especially if you’re making the move to London, it can be tempting to settle for a job you don’t love because it has a high salary, or even because you’ve been offered it quickly.

In the long-term though, choosing a job you enjoy has to take precedence.

Paying such a huge sum of money for a course that didn’t propel your career is more difficult to comprehend than the monthly overdraft and student loan payments you’re making each month.

As a result, you have to think about things other than salary – like work/life balance, job satisfaction and other perks – when applying for graduate jobs.

Especially in the early stages of your career, take time to tailor your job search, take a career test to find out what job you should do, and most importantly: don’t rush into anything you know you’ll dislike because of the salary alone.


2. The fear of failure

For many graduates, the fear of underperforming in a new job is the biggest concern; and this is only heightened when it’s a job they’ve been dreaming about for years.

This fear of messing up in a role they’ve worked so hard to land causes many university graduates to settle for a job they actively dislike.

What’s important to remember, though, is that if you settle for a job you find boring, you won’t work hard to improve and take your career to the next level.

People choose roles that suit their abilities; i.e. a compassionate person might go from a BSN to FNP, whereas those who are skilled with numbers opt for a numbers-based job.

If your skills and the role don’t match, you’ll be more likely to underperform as a result of a lack of knowledge or aptitude in that area.


3. They think they might learn to like it

It’s true that occasionally, you might land a job you aren’t completely sold on, which you end up really enjoying.

For example, if you know it’s a sector that interests you, but the role perhaps isn’t your dream role, you will at least have the scope to move up the ranks; so might be worth making the career investment now.

More often than not, though, taking your time to choose which sectors and graduate roles you are interested in will lead to you enjoying the job.

When you’re applying for graduate jobs, think about what you can see yourself doing in the long term – and tailor your job applications accordingly.

Questions to ask on your graduate job search

  • Would I be unhappy doing those tasks?
  • Am I interested in this sector?
  • What interests you about this job?
  • Why are you applying for this position?
  • What is my dream job?
  • What jobs could I do?
  • Which graduate jobs would suit me?
  • What is more important than salary?
  • What graduate jobs would I hate?
  • What are the graduate jobs with the most freedom?
  • What job will make me happy?


Get prepared for your graduate job interview with our list of the best answers in interviews.

Check out more career advice, or apply for the latest graduate jobs.


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