Mission (Not) Impossible: How to Get That Graduate Job
January 30 2017, 0 Comments
Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to stand out from your peers and bag that elusive graduate job. It will not be easy. Expect to compete against an average of thirty-eight other candidates per position, and to never even hear back for three out of every five applications you submit.
But take courage comrades: we won’t be sending you out into the world empty-handed. Behold! Your very own job-hunt cheat sheet:
First Things First
Woah there! Step away from the job board site.
The very first thing you need to do? Decide which jobs you’re going to apply for. Carefully decide. Too many graduates plump for roles in, say, marketing or management consultancy without really understanding (a) what those roles entail and, (b) all the variation you can get within those sectors. Spend some time researching all your options and you’re far more likely to find the perfect career for you.
Those Who Fail To Prepare …
Nope, we’re still not clicking start on those applications yet. You might be keen to get cracking, but going in without adequate preparation is a recipe for disaster. You won’t get anywhere without a great CV and strong cover letter, so focus on that first.
Be Picky (At First!)
Every job hunter should have a list of “deal breakers” – a salary they won’t go below, tasks they’re not willing to do etc. As a fresh-faced graduate, you’ll need to be realistic about how choosy you can be, but you also shouldn’t settle for something out of desperation.
When you first start job-hunting, hold out for the best. It is better to be unemployed a month longer but end up with the right role. If it becomes clear that sticking to your specifications isn’t working out for you, then lower your expectations a little.
Clock In, Clock Out
A good maxim to follow is that you should treat job hunting like a job. That means getting up at a reasonable time and dedicating several hours a day to your search. But it also means taking a lunch hour and other breaks, and stopping for the day once you’ve done a reasonable amount of work.
If you overwork yourself the quality of your applications will plummet. It’s much better to take your time and do one submission properly than to rush off five poor-quality ones every day.
Pimp My CV
Every time you apply for a job, you should match the spec against your CV. Not only does this get you through any Applicant Tracker Software (which scans a CV for keywords and automatically rejects any that don’t cut the mustard), you’re unlikely to be called in for an interview if you don’t have the qualifications they’re looking for.
If you notice some obvious gaps in your CV, make use of the abundant free time you currently have, and do something to fill them. There are a bunch of free, high-quality online courses (try EdX or Coursera) which can teach you anything from coding to SEO. Publishing your own blog or having your own YouTube channel is a fun way to show off your creativity. Or, if it’s lack of work experience which is the problem, why not consider some part-time volunteering?
Think Outside the (Application) Box
Did you know that 85% of jobs are filled through networking? You might not quite be at the level of schmoozing a conference room for contacts yet, but ask your friends and family if they know of any opportunities. A recommendation won’t automatically get you the job, but it could get your foot in the door.
Even if nepotism isn’t your style, you should still be using networking in your job hunt. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and shows off your professional skills. By joining relevant business groups, connecting with industry contacts, and engaging with or posting interesting content, you could get yourself noticed by a hiring manager or recruiter. Twitter is also a good platform for reaching out to those companies you’re interested in working for.
Believe in Yourself
Nobody said this job-hunt malarkey was going to be easy. But the important thing to remember is that nobody succeeds the first time around. Harry Potter was rejected by twelve publishers, Albert Einstein’s teacher told him he’d “never amount to anything”.
Rejection can be tough, but keep positive and learn you be your own personal cheerleader. Everyone has talents that will be appreciated somewhere, so just keep plugging away until you find your niche.
Beth Leslie writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles. Or; if you’re looking to hire an intern, have a look at their innovative Video CVs.