As more graduate jobs are expected to become available in 2014, a survey by Graduate Prospects shows a disconcerting number of graduates are unsure how to progress their careers.

When asked about their current career plans, 18% of graduates said that they were unsure about how to progress. Frequent comments related to feeling confused and overwhelmed, uncertainty about what to do next or how to reach career goals as well as fear over making the wrong choices.

To help work out their next steps common activities cited by students were looking into taking a gap year and work abroad as well as browsing job vacancies and postgraduate courses.

Nan Sherrard, careers advisor at Graduate Prospects said: “Spending time browsing the internet for potential opportunities without a focus can be futile and lead to more confusion over what to do for the best. I urge graduates in this position to seek help from their university careers advisors who will be able to offer support and help work through options. Careers services are often available up to two years of leaving university and sometimes longer.

“A lack of action after leaving university is often down to graduates underestimating their skills. They can have little understanding of how to translate experiences into the language of work, particularly if they haven’t had much work experience. Graduates can also have felt very safe at university and leaving that community after three years to find themselves plunged into the big wide world of work on their own can be scary.”

Nan’s tips for graduate career success:

  • Consider your wider skillset – You don’t have to do something related to your degree subject. There is a much wider range of things you can do. Employers are interested in the whole package of skills and abilities, and may be more interested in those gained through studies and work/life in general, than subject knowledge.
  • See a careers adviser – they really can help, even if to begin with it seems like just ruling things out. Contact your old university – if you’ve moved back home you may be able to get help by phone or email.
  • Do your research – the more you know about jobs/careers the easier it is to decide whether or not they interest you. Sites like give detailed information on what different jobs entail.
  • Don’t restrict applications to ‘graduate’ jobs – Is a graduate job one that asks for a degree, or is it a job that a graduate does? There are lots of great jobs out there that can help build your skills but don’t necessarily require a degree.
  • Audit your skills – look at job descriptions/vacancies to see what an employer is looking for. Remember that you will have gained skills such as teamwork and communication from things like retail and bar work. Identify skills gaps and think about how you could fill them.
  • Do something! – Part-time work, voluntary work, travel. Try not to have huge gaps of time on your CV when you are not doing anything. You can only claim to be constructively job searching for so long.
  • Persevere – the ultimate number one rule when you start applying to job is to persevere!