Tips on jumpstarting your career

Finding your first job as a student or graduate can be a daunting prospect, but there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you get the best jumpstart to your future career. We spoke to Luke, Recruitment Lead at giffgaff money, who gave us the inside scoop on how best to prepare yourself, and what kinds of things you can do to make yourself more employable.

Q. How important is practical work experience when applying in today’s job market?
A. I certainly think it helps open the door for you. Practical work experience can be a difference maker when you are up against a hundred other graduate CVs. With that being said, not everyone is able to attain it and I certainly wouldn’t rule out candidates solely based on that. I tend to look at other factors. Did you have a job when you were at school or university? Were you part of any clubs or play any sports competitively? This can give you a great insight into the person’s characteristics and culture fit at giffgaff, which are as important to us as experience.

Q. How should applicants bring personality to their CVs?
A. Be genuine, warts and all. I’ve never been a fan of overly flamboyant CVs that are multi coloured or filled with pictures. Keep it simple and put only the key information and achievements in your work experience. If you have work experience already, we don’t need half a page on your education, detailing every module you took at university. It just makes it look like you’re filling space.
Everyone claims to be hard working, diligent, and a team player (who also works well individually) so that isn’t going to help you stand out. Tell us about your interests. Think of your Twitter or Instagram bio, what does it say about you? Are you a whiskey connoisseur who races motorbikes at the weekend? That’s what we want to know! And, of course, a cardinal rule that must not be broken: when typing a CV, no comic sans.

Q. Can you give one piece of advice you know now which you wish you had known when you started?
A. This is going to sound obvious, but be yourself. I think people tend to display a version of themselves that they think needs to be shown when they start a new job, there is no need for that here at giffgaff. We hired you for your personality, even your weird and wonderful traits!

Q. What can people do in their spare time to make themselves more employable?
A. Show a passion for your career. If you’re a software developer, we like to see people who live it! Working on projects on GitHub or building apps for fun – this display of passion will put you above the rest in our eyes.

Q. What are definite mistakes others can learn from for future interviews?
A. Know your CV. There is nothing worse than someone who has embellished their CV and forgotten what they’ve written. Also, always prepare questions for us at the end! You don’t want an awkward silence after an interviewer asks “have you got any questions for us?” It shows you’re either not passionate or not interested in our company and you won’t be getting an invite back for a second interview. Finally, I’d say don’t complain about your current or previous employer. You may have genuine reasons for your feelings towards them, but displaying them in an interview shows us that you hold grudges and may not be a team player. If you’re asked why you’re leaving, handle it with class!

I think the worst thing I’ve witnessed so far is someone answering a phone during an interview. This is fine for an emergency, of course, but when he came back into the room and we asked if he needed to leave, he replied with “Nah, carry on. It was just my mate.” Unbelievable! Safe to say, he didn’t get hired.

Do what you can to make yourself stand out from the crowd, show passion for what you do, and always be yourself. The job market is a competitive place, use these hints and tips to get ahead in the game and make sure you are as best prepared as you can be taking the first step onto your career ladder.

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