In a matter of weeks the United Kingdom will be going to the polls and electing a new government. No matter who is elected, or even if it’s a hung parliament as the media is currently obsessing about, the simple fact is that this country’s economy is in the doldrums.

That one fact is going to have more of an impact on your future than anything else.

Put simply, prices are rising, jobs are scarce, salaries are being forced downward, and the bloated public sector is about to be hacked into a more manageable form. Combine that with a housing market that still hasn’t adjusted to a new world of strict mortgage lending criteria and the intransigence of the political classes – you have a recipe for a prolonged economic downturn.

Where do you come into all this? Well once you graduate, or hopefully long before that time, you will need to start searching for employment. The dire state of the economy isn’t going to help.

So what can you do? Give up before you start? Take the first job that comes along and be grateful for the chance to flip burgers for the rest of your life? No. It’s time to put some effort into planning your own future now. Even if this is your first year at university it’s never too soon to start preparing for your future.

Here are some tips…

Decide on what it is you want to do, where you want to be and who you want to work for. These goals may change over time but you must have them or else how will you know you’ve met them? Plus, they give you a target to aim for, to strive towards everyday.

Grab every opportunity for suitable work experience. Whether it is paid or unpaid. Real world experience is proof that you’ve actually done something rather than just read a book and sat in a lecture theatre. It also shows a measure of “get up and go” and self-motivation. Employers are more interested in those who can prove that they have done a job rather than those who can write an essay about it.

Exploit your contacts. Talk to family and friends about your aspirations and goals. You never know when a friend of a friend or an obscure uncle might lead you to a golden opportunity.

Treat yourself as a commodity that needs to be sold. Polish up your appearance and your CV. Create and practice your personal sales pitch. Be prepared to hawk yourself and to talk about your greatest attributes. You must become a walking billboard, ready at a moment’s notice to tell anyone where you’re the best candidate for that dream position.

Finally, stiffen yourself for rejection. It will happen, I guarantee it. Wherever possible try and find out why you weren’t successful. Learn from the experience and take on-board any feedback offered. Remember the words of Anthony Robbins, the world famous author and motivational speaker: “There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.”