You have invested at least the past three years of your life studying, pulling all-nighters in the library, and finding yourself increasingly in debt. All with the hope that it will lead to a flourishing career upon graduation. It’s time to kick-start your professional life and use all the knowledge and experience gained during your time at university. However, more graduates than ever are attempting to do the same thing and with diminishing opportunities being advertised. How can you be sure you stand out and get the position you are looking for? Here are some tips to start you on your way to landing that first job after graduating.
Ensure your CV is up to date, clear, and concise. Take time to check and double check that everything makes sense and to exclude unnecessary information. This is your first impression and you want it to be a good one so proofread carefully for spelling and grammar mistakes. Prepare your CV and cover letter for the specific job you’re applying for. Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach as employers want to know you’ve done your research. Then employ a trusted site like jobrapido to find vacancies that suit your individual needs, in the area you want to be based (if the location is a deciding factor).
Set up alerts on LinkedIn for hiring opportunities. Most job applications for new graduates work in cycles that open in September. Many places have graduate schemes that are for one or two years and they only accept applications that come in before Christmas. Keep this in mind when you are applying for your post-grad job.
Research is a vital skill that you will have used and improved during your time at university. This is key when trying to find a new job following graduation. Knowing the industry you want to go into is something that will benefit you greatly. Consider your motivation for pursuing a particular job and the long-term situation you want to find yourself in. Tailor your cover letter to include some of the research you have done to show that you are the ideal candidate. Don’t arrive at an interview without having first looked into the company’s history and what it is they actually do, and the image they are trying to project.
Today’s workplace is often about who you know and using your many resources to advantage. Make use of Twitter and LinkedIn to show your interests and to start discussions about them. More and more employers are turning to social media to find potential new employees. You never know who you might meet and what you might fall into. Even if you just take up with someone in the industry on Twitter, they might offer some invaluable tips on how to land a first job in their field. Keep your social media up to date and don’t post anything that might put a future employer off, as they may well look you up before offering an interview. Keep your skills and experience up to date on LinkedIn.
Many of us have been there, working your heart out at an unpaid internship, long days and small jobs no one else wants to do (all in the hope they will offer you something more secure at the end of it). Your payment is the experience, right? Wrong. Unpaid internships are illegal if you are employed as a worker and you are not taking part in a student placement. Of course, if the role is advertised as ‘voluntary’ then you will not be paid, but be confident enough to know that you deserve to be paid for your work. Make sure you know your rights as an intern.
As long as you keep your head in the game, you will be fine in your first job search. It isn’t all as hopeless as the headlines might have you believe. However, a lot of the best roles may mean moving from where you are. Remember, the first job you have doesn’t mean it’s for life. Stick it out for the experience, but don’t stay with an employer that treats you badly, or for too long in a role that you don’t like. Go into your new role willing to listen and learn, even if you find yourself doing jobs that don’t use what your degree studies at university. You never know where one role will lead you in the future. Learning new skills is an activity you will repeat throughout your working life.
Thanks for this guest post go to freelance writer, Emily Jones.
David Shindler is founder of the Employability Hub online learning centre, Director of Learning to Leap and widely respected in the industry as an employability expert. David understands the ‘soft’ skills, attitudes and behaviours needed by employers and can help people improve them to get the job they want.