Biggest career challenges faced by NI graduates in 2019

12 Mar Academic
Student Debt. Brexit. Stormont. Brain Drain. Trump’s Wall. Backstop … will the negativity ever STOP!

Many of you are entering the final stage of an education journey that has lasted for at least 17 continuous years! As you focus on your final exams, your mind is frequently interrupted with thoughts on the big choices ahead and the career options which may dictate your future, shape who you are and your purpose in life. Or your family is counting the days for you to leave the payroll. Cough cough, no pressure then!!!

Whether you are a university student based in NI today or thinking of returning home from GB or ROI after you graduate, this may surprise you a little bit …


We have record inward investment with companies across the globe setting up operations in the region. We have record employment, jobs aplenty and an unbelievable range of opportunities for all. Companies are now more flexible with their hiring expectations and outstanding training academies exist from government programmes or within businesses themselves. We have local companies producing goods and services that are travelling the world. Plus, a vibrant start up community branching up in Belfast, Derry and beyond.

So; what’s the problem? INFORMATION!!

Good news doesn’t sell in the media. Companies struggle to find you or communicate their brand to people like you. And you are not sure where to find information on the opportunities or to believe it!

We have just launched a new site and while we don’t expect it to change your world over night, we have your best intentions at the core of the portal. It is NI’s first dedicated platform for emerging talent. Cause that’s what you offer. Fresh talent, brains, energy and potential. RADAR will offer you insight on companies, jobs and sectors. Articles, podcasts and videos from students, graduates, apprentices and companies will provide clear understanding of the realities of work in NI. How to start, develop and manage your career plans. How to find fulfilment and reward from financial and intangible benefits.

The world will always have limitless dramas going on and you must realise, they are somewhat out of your control. We want to use this editorial to focus on the biggest challenges you may face as you enter the world of work and what you can do about it. Let’s touch on some of the challenges graduates face as they emerge from Uni and start a career:

Managing your Mindset

A belated realisation you don’t want to do what you always dreamt of!
Lack of confidence or self-belief
Wider peer pressure
Weighing your next step between work, further education or travel
Dealing with financial stress and debt.

Managing your Career Choices

Pathways to employment and careers are unclear
Understanding what jobs exist within a sector
Fear of making mistakes or selecting the wrong career path
Finding the right employment opportunities that offer investment in you, development of you and reward for you
Considering self-employment or commercialising an idea you have
Matching your skillset with what companies expect.

Managing your Applications

Understanding the job description and preparing a specific CV for the job
Lack of relevant work experience
Qualifications below your own expectation
Preparing for an interview and a wider fear of rejection
Uncertain economic performance (which disrupts job volume).

Managing your Employment

Adjusting from student life to work life e.g. 8-9 hours per day, daily commute, restrictions on mobile phone usage!
Starting a job but lacking a basic office protocol or soft skills e.g. managing phone calls, making a good impression or working in a team under pressure
Low or no professional contacts or an inability to build or use your network.

It’s worth observing that few of these challenges relate to your 17 years of education or your list of qualifications. So, start to consider what you CAN address because before you know it, another 17 years will come by and it’s very late to start making the right decisions at that point.

What do companies want?

As a starter, it’s worth taking the perspective of an employer. Their first touch point is to advertise an opportunity. The job description sets out the duties and responsibilities. The job specification outlines the qualifications, skills and maybe experiences required. This is a very old school method of communicating. The documents can be designed poorly or fail to reflect the realities of the role. They can sometimes offer a stale and unexciting insight into your typical day. As you read through the content, you may perceive many of the bullet points as barriers or obstacles.

The smarter companies are investing in their employer brand, tasking recently hired staff to share a video of how they feel working in their company or make their rewards and benefits visible in infographics or via social media. They are also considerably investing in their company, their technology, their office and their brand to attract you.


These companies are based here due to your talent, your UK-leading qualifications and ability to nurture your skills within a growing company.

You will a section on RADAR called Insights. It offers knowledge and guidance about your career, lifestyle, academia, employability and many other factors such as managing your finances and debt. will help you uncover the solutions to many of these challenges and provide clearer paths to your exciting future. But if you can’t wait that long, find your career today on and plot your destiny. Oh, and don’t forget to tell your friends to get on the RADAR. Best of luck in the months ahead.