If you’re like most enthusiastic students, you think that you’ll graduate university and your degree will be an instant gateway to your dream job. Sadly, there are millions of other young hopefuls in the same position as you, making that ideal job really hard to reach. If that’s not bad enough, employers also require experience, but how do you get experience if they don’t give you the opportunity (frustrating right?).
Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, follow these top tips to help you land your first job and set you up for a solid career:
1. Start Early
Starting your job search in your final year of university can get you one step ahead of the game. While others are struggling to find the perfect grad position, you’ll already have your first interviews lined up. Begin with a simple job search on the most popular job boards and websites.
2. Bag Yourself an Internship
Getting industry related experience by doing an internship will do wonders for your CV. It’ll provide you with a structured approach and will broaden your skill set; some are even paid too – bonus!
3. Get Experience in an Unrelated Field
Any work experience will look good on your CV, even if it’s in an unrelated field. Working while studying will show that you have desirable skills; such as: good time management, organisation and work ethic. “Research has shown that employers are more receptive to students who have worked in the final year of their degree – even if it was in an unrelated field” reported by the FUSA.
4. Highlight Your Extra Curricula’s
Another great way to show that you have the necessary skills is by highlighting your extra-curricular activities. If you were part of the basketball team you can demonstrate good teamwork and leadership skills.
5. Create the Perfect CV
Writing a graduate CV can be daunting, especially for the first time. Your goal should be to showcase your skills and demonstrate how you’d be of value to the workplace. To support your claims, you’ll need to attach a captivating cover letter too.
6. Identify Your Accomplishments
Employers look for well-rounded individuals with the ability to do well. If you can demonstrate this by showing where you have been successful and accomplished something in other areas of your life, make the hiring manager aware of this.
7. Network, Network and Network
Networking is vital in any job search, especially when you are starting out. Tap into any connections you may have that can help you get a position after university. Let all your family and friends know that you are looking for a graduate job; they may know someone who knows someone – you know how it goes!
8. Professionalise Your Online Profiles
Your online presence is more important than ever in your current job search with employers checking out your every move on social media to see if you would be a perfect fit for their organisation. One sloppy photo could cost you your career so make sure your profiles are employer-friendly or highly secure!
9. Use All Job Avenues
Don’t solely rely on one method to secure a graduate job. Contact recruitment agencies that can help get you a job with no experience. You can also upload your CV to job boards; there’s a chance that hiring managers will come across it when they have a new opening.
10. Improve Your Soft Skills
Your soft skills are what make you desirable to any future employer. You could be the most intelligent person but if you don’t know how to communicate the knowledge, it’s pretty useless. Work on these skills to impress any recruiter.
11. Tailor Every Application
Although it might seem tempting to send out the same CV and cover letter to all hiring managers, please refrain from doing so! If you send the same generic email, you might as well be throwing it straight in the bin. Take the time to get familiar with the job spec and understand what skills are required for that role, and then tailor your application to those requirements.
12. Don't Forget the Little Guys
Many graduates aim for the big, well-known companies straight away, sometimes forgetting the smaller, start-up companies. The experience you can get working hands-on in a startup environment is invaluable, and you will find yourself with way more responsibility than you would do at a larger company. If you do decide later on in your career that you want to crossover to a big firm, your experience will no doubt boost your chances.
13. Use Your Alumni Career Service
Your university or college will have an extensive alumni network that grads can use to get contact information. Tap into this network and try to make vital connections, you can send an email introducing yourself and asking for further information on the industry and job duties. You never know, you might be able to get one foot in the door!
14. Create Your Brand
With the job markets online revolution, it’s important that you have a strong personal brand. This will help hiring managers discover you and understand what you can bring to the table. If you have an extensive catalogue of samples, why not showcase them through an online portfolio?
15. Keep up With Industry News
Even though you don’t have a job yet, it’s vital that you keep up-to-date with industry news. This could be the icebreaker that will set you apart from other candidates. If you’re interviewing for a fashion PR company, find out who they are planning on making a sponsorship with next, or who their targeted celebs are.
16. Prepare for Interviews Before the Call
You can never be too equipped! A good trick to boost your confidence is to prepare for common interview questions before you’re even offered a chance. This way, you won’t frantically panic if you get called for an impromptu interview and will be full of poise.
17. Make Sure the Job Is Right for You
Although you may have studied accounting, your interests might lie elsewhere. Gregory, a university careers adviser, said that you should: "follow your interests and choose an industry that you are enthusiastic about. It will help you to get the jobs you want and to build a career long-term."
18. Get a Foot in the Door
Even though you have a degree, you will have to start from the bottom and work your way up in most industries. If you have your eyes set on a specific company, apply for any job available and work your way across the company to your desired department.
19. Create a Plan of Action
If you’re an organisational freak (like me) you love a good plan and have already got this one covered. If not, try and give yourself a target to work towards; you could aim to complete two applications per day. Make sure you stick to it; don’t get distracted by a midday episode of Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer.
20. Keep Learning
Our minds are like a sponge, the more knowledge we absorb, the more attractive we are to potential employers. If you want to brush up on your Excel skills for example, now is the time to do it with so many online courses readily available.
21. Be Open to Opportunities
It may not be possible to immediately get a graduate level job. However, if something else is available, even if it is a casual or temporary job – try to use it as a stepping stone. It won’t do you any harm, but will just show your great work ethic and you’ll even learn some transferable skills.
22. Don't Give Up
After sending out 30 applications and not even receiving a reply like a simple “thank you for your time”, you may be feeling quite demotivated. The key is to push through and not give up. Spend more time reviewing your applications, you may find that you have been missing a vital step in your graduate job search.
Graduate jobs can be hard to find and get, but if you persevere and follow these steps you should be on the road to success in no time, even if you have to take a detour at some stage. The end goal is all that matters to set yourself on a good career path.
Do you have any questions about graduate-level jobs? If so, let us know in the comment section below.