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I'm just about to complete my bachelor of electrical engineering in Australia and was unsuccessful in gaining graduate employment. All I'm looking for is to break into the job market somewhere above unskilled labour.

As I'll have finished studying soon, I'll have a lot of time to dedicate to improving my chances of gaining employment and these are the options I see available to me, though don't know which would be more valuable to a perspective employer.

-enrol in a masters or PhD(I don't want to work in academia but I could use it to make up for my average grades in my bachelor)

-keep working in my hospitality job and start some projects at home using the knowledge I've learnt from my course(automate the house I'm living in, build a bycicle generator etc.things that won't make me money but....)

-Go to China and learn chinese(I'm already at an upper-intermediate level and after 6-12 months I think I'm capable of becoming semi-fluent)

-Work for free( I would like to do this for a short period of time if it would increase my employability though the companies I've called don't let people do it(legalities) and I don't know any professionals in the field)

Which is best for my employability, or is there something else I should be doing?

After calling back the companies I was unsuccessful with, one of the companies gave me feedback as to why I didn't make the cut:

-My grades(they said I would of made it last year, though this year they were flooded with applicants-bit of a grad glut atm)

-My cover letter (didn't sell myself well enough)

Its too late to do anything about my grades(I shouldn't of been so lazy in my first two years) and I've booked an appointment with my universities careers centre to help further improve my CV and cover letter writing.

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Why the grad market? To me, that implies that you're interested in working at a "top end of town" company, which as you're finding might be a bit difficult.

Consider branching out to look at start ups - I know Sydney & Melbourne have a decent IT tech sector for start ups. You can spin a story about not liking the rigours of academic life, being more of a practical bent, and wanting to learn via real world application.

That's the kind of stuff that wins over an entrepreneur and also explains away your bad grades. Don't look at it as being lazy - it is more a disconnect in teaching and learning styles. You're not an academic, you've got a can-do attitude and an aptitude and desire to apply knowledge in a practical and monetisable sense, not write the next big open source library.

I would advise against working for free, that can often mean you're just given the tasks that a paid employee would otherwise do but doesn't want to do.

Going to China and doing one of those english-teaching courses can actually open doors to MBA schools (diversity!), so that's not actually a bad tack. Also, it will beat the pants off working, and provide you with more connections and experiences than working for free would.

I would utterly advise against doing a masters to get a job, that's not what further education is all about. Also, if you don't like studying, why the heck would you do more?

  • The question should have been job market after graduating rather than grad job market haha. In relation to startups could you recommend me methods for finding them other than google. I noticed meetup.com had some groups that i could join to try network, thanks for the advice. – Darren Lanigan Oct 30 '14 at 16:54
  • Meetups are good. Going to a local hackathon - i know you'll have had to learn a bit of code in your course - will help too. If you look for "start up funding" in whatever region you're in, you'll eventually find some list of start ups in that region too. But I wouldn't lean too soon away from going to China - a mate of mine got into HBS with pretty dodgy academic credentials and a great story about life lessons teaching english in china. Also, life experiences. – bharal Oct 30 '14 at 17:39
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Learn to communicate better and I'm not being snarky in the least. Employers value people who can communicate well, both verbally and in writing.

Just some examples from your post:

-enrol in a masters or PhD

Spelling errors, no punctuation on master's or Ph.D. (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/masters-degree-or-masters-degree/)

Also using - as a bullet when you can use the bullets that the editor provides.

Putting parentheses with no space between it and the word that precedes it.

I shouldn't of been so lazy in my first two years)

Shouldn't have, not shouldn't of. The same goes for "would of" or "could of"

booked an appointment with my universities careers centre

university's, not universities

Its too late to do anything about my grades It's not Its.

I know it probably seems I'm being nitpicky and I know I'm not perfect, but communication skills (or lack thereof) are an easy way to eliminate a candidate. Many screeners won't give your CV or resume a second look if they see a lot of basic grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.

Communication skills can't be underestimated.

  • Sorry, I used the phone app to write this question, I'll fix it up as soon as I have access to a computer. I write my emails,cv and cover letters to a much higher standard(grammatically speaking at least) though it is disrespectful to put questions on here to a lesser standard. – Darren Lanigan Oct 30 '14 at 16:40
  • no it's not, don't apologise to pedants. Especially ones whose own essays could do with some editing - that first sentence! Yeesh! Sounds like someone was listening to Sir Mix-a-Lot. – bharal Oct 30 '14 at 16:41
  • I actually didn't want an apology. He didn't do anything to me, I'm merely suggesting some areas where he can improve that will actually make a difference. No, he doesn't need to be perfect and I know I probably made some errors myself. But my point still stands that communication skills are important. And I'm glad that he writes his correspondence to a higher standard. We have no way of knowing that here. – Chris E Oct 30 '14 at 16:45
  • That's fair - and you were right to bring that up as a potential issue. I took umbrage at picking apart the post he wrote. That seemed more a "public shaming", and while the OP might be ok with that, not everyone would be. So it wasn't the best, ah, way to help in a general sense? – bharal Oct 30 '14 at 17:36

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