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Published on January 23rd, 2018 by Adrienne Saunders

Finding a well-paid position.

On International Women’s Day I will be running a Fearless Female Graduate Employability event at Southampton Solent University. And I am going to share with you why this is important not only to me but the future of our outstanding female talent pool.

Nearly 75% of women find work after university, compared with 71% of men, but four times as many men earn more than £40,000, says a survey reported in the Guardian in 2015. Ladies, those men are the ‘runners’ ahead of you.

Endless applications, confusing interview questions, and frustrating rejections; graduates face a tough time trying to secure their first job after university.

I didn’t come to terms with the fact that I was graduating until I received my diploma. I remember closing the university doors behind me for the last time, standing at the top of the stairs, and being hit by a mixture of happiness and utter panic.

I was happy because I was the proud owner of a degree in Economics, ready to enter the world of work and change it forever. Check.

But where did the panic come from? Well, I’d no idea where to start. I’d spent my university years studying, competing at international level in aerobic gymnastics, and having fun. I felt confident, but this job thing was a whole new world.

So, I took an entry-level job and realised fairly quickly that my knowledge and skills were good enough for a high or upper-middle-level job.


Here’s My Advice To Female Grads

Don’t aim too low. If you start at entry level, you start from way behind. Imagine if you had to start a 100-metre race 20 metres behind everyone else? You’d spend your time trying to catch up and then burn out.

If you have the skills and the confidence, don’t be afraid to take your place at the starting line, right up there with the others.

A recent poll by Girlguiding, the leading UK charity for girls and young women, suggests that career confidence in women drops as they get closer to finding a job. Only 30% of 17–21-year-old girls felt they would have the same chance as boys at succeeding in their chosen careers, compared with 90% of 9–10-year-olds.

That’s shocking.

Let’s say that both men and women have the same knowledge, the same abilities, and the same opportunities when they graduate. Why then do women lose confidence while men seem to get stronger and stronger? What happens between the ages of 9 and 21 that makes women’s confidence drop by a whopping 60%?

It’s women themselves. It’s us, ladies. It’s the message we’re telling ourselves.

In this series of blogs, I’ll guide you through proven methods to boost your self-confidence and change the message you’re telling yourself. First, I’ll show you simple, but effective, ways to understand what you’re good at and turn up your personal power. Then I’ll take you through ways to increase your influence so that you get what you want. In my last blog of the series, I’ll explore how your mindset affects and influences your success.

Working on your career confidence shouldn’t start when you graduate and shouldn’t stop when you find your first job — it’s an ongoing project. The good news is that it’ll get you what you want.

Make it part of your studies; consider university as your first job. Use every opportunity to practice and grow, so that when you enter the meeting room for your first interview, you’ll be able to speak up and stand out.

Next time, we’ll take a look at how you can work on your personal power as part of your confidence-boosting regime.


When we engaged with Jamie and Scott it was an instant like for me because they look at the problem from a different angle, they have a great portfolio of big companies and I believed that they could give us an edge above any other merchant because their training was so cutting edge.

Paul SextonManaging DirectorLawsons