Dave Kilmartin, Head of Careers at DIT, offers his advice to graduates on how to look for a job in a recession.

Getting a job is a job in itself, so has to be treated as such. Like any good hunter you need to be very well prepared, resourceful, pro-active, able to approach your target from a variety of perspectives, deal with failure and/or rejection and minimise its psychological effect on you.

The analogy of a good salesman is apt - rejection means you move to the next potential opportunity.

Ask yourself the following questions to see how good a job hunter you are:

  • How many sources have you used to search for future employment opportunities? What about colleges careers websites, newspapers, IDA and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment websites for job announcements.
  • Have many people have you told that you are searching for a job? What about all your friends, family, uncles, aunties, acquaintances, work experience and/or part-time work contacts. Did you follow up leads in a professional manner?
  • What is your level of knowledge about future developments in your preferred industry sector? Have you looked at the professional body website, trade journals, new legislation?
  • How many industry professionals advice have you sought? Remember people generally like to offer advice and give the benefit of their experience.
  • How creative are you in your approach to job search? Have you tried to get some experience?
  • Do you have a germ of an idea that could potentially become a business? If so have you spoken to an enterprise board or partnership? They are paid to help you.
  • How professional is your CV? Are you targeting it to specific opportunities or blandly sending the same CV out to many Dear Sirs and Dear Madams. Do your research on the company and role and put forward what you have to offer directly related to the opportunity. Your CV should really be saying what you’’ll do for the company tomorrow - this shows you are motivated, serious and professional.
  • Have you considered diversifying or taking a stepping stone approach? It’s important not to underestimate the skills such as team working, problem solving, communication and customer service which can be developed in what might be termed a non-graduate job.
  • Have you offered your services to a voluntary organisation to gain invaluable experience and develop a range of skills? Any potential employer will ask you what you have achieved in last few months.
  • What have you been doing to avoid a recession in your thoughts and actions? What are you doing to stay positive - perhaps think of your life in terms of working, learning, playing and giving. While circumstances may dictate that working is a small part of your life at present, you can still play, learn and give. These can cost little or nothing and still provide meaning and happiness.


    Remember, responding with as positive a mindset as possible and taking some concrete actions is a choice you can make. The alternative choice is to feel a sense of paralysis. You may not be able to control the economy, but you can control your response to the current situation, so try to develop a professional approach to your career planning and job search.

    Finally, take heart, graduate jobs are out there. This is not the first time the global economy has been hit with a downturn of this scale and our experience shows that businesses come out of these situations and need skilled graduates to help them through. Be ready to take the opportunities when they arise.