It is important to have realistic expectations and be open to possibilities

When I secured my first full time ‘serious’ job after completing my Master of Arts in Industrial Psychology, I had great expectations of what I would be doing. I had spent the last six years studying hard whilst my friends were off doing their OE. My hard work was now going to pay off, and I was recruited as a graduate, set to start a job that was exciting and challenging, in the area of my study – Human Resources – with status and potential.

However the reality was completely different…..

I didn’t get ‘placed’ in Human Resources, but in Productivity Services, where I documented procedures, managed the relocation of departments to different buildings, and did ‘time & motion’ studies. This wasn’t what I signed up for! However, I gained so much from this first job. The training ground of looking at what people do and seeing how it could be done more efficiently, of learning exactly what was needed in relocating a large team of people and their work, and the discipline of writing detailed procedures, have been a backbone of my future work.

If only I had seen this as being the starting place, an opportunity to learn and establish myself in the world of work, the grounding that is so needed to build a future on, I would have enjoyed my time a lot more and been more open to the learning opportunities on offer. And I worked with a great team of people.

So how could I have made the most of this opportunity? The biggest issue was the inflated expectations I had, leaving university with a Masters, thinking that somehow this would open up the door and give me an instant stepping stone to higher positions. I did not realise that it is essential for everyone to do the ground work, go through the learnings that can only be learnt by doing. By building up from the ground, you build the foundation on which future roles can build. The reality is that if I had been given a higher level job without the experience, I would have floundered, as I would not have the experience to draw on to make good informed and sound decisions!

Employers today

I continually hear from employers that graduates hold unrealistic expectations of the roles that they think they are qualified to do. And from the graduates themselves, unwilling to entertain a ‘lesser’ role, that would get them into the organisation and who knows what could happen from there! I was talking to one employer who told me he regularly had enquiries about a possible internship or roles from graduates. While there were no vacancies within his organisation he suggested that they send their CV in. He was open to  making a referral to other contacts in his network that may have suitable positions.

How many graduates sent in their CV?


Each graduate had decided that they were looking for “the job” and when it wasn’t immediately available would continue to try somewhere else, and yet it could have been the beginning of something awesome.

Here are some tips for Graduates and any job seeker for that matter:

  • It is important more than ever, in this rapidly changing world, to have realistic expectations of what your first job might look like, and sometimes a foot in the door, rather than waiting for the ideal role, might be the best place to start. You can build up from the ground, develop your reputation, build your network and prove yourself as a hard worker.
  • It is important to follow up every possible lead and opportunity, and to be open to possibilities – as you never know where a conversation or a contact might lead. 80% of roles or possibilities are likely to be found through your network, so do not underestimate the power of looking after and developing relationships with your contacts.
  • It is important to make the most of whatever is in front of you. Again it might not be your ideal, but what you learn, and how you perform and behave is important for your reputation and your future opportunities. Always do the best that you can do in whatever you are doing. You never know who is noticing.

If you would like help with your direction, job search or marketing, please do not hesitate to get in touch!