How to land a graduate job plus Job seeking tips
It is clear that for graduates landing your dream role today is not easy. Jobs are asking for more and more from young grads; applications are lengthy and some contain multiple gruelling stages and there are sometimes hundreds of applicants for one role. Graduates are expected to have already gained practical experience in their field through internships, volunteering and work placements before seeking a position.
Subsequently, many find themselves in a catch-22 situation of needing experience to land a position, but not being able to get that experience in the first place due to a lack of experience – What’s a grad to do?!
Here we have laid out some tips to optimise your employability chances.
Should you choose a grad job or a non-grad job?
Many grads make the mistake of assuming graduate schemes are the be-all-and-end-all. They are not. In fact, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 58.8% of graduates land roles that aren’t graduate schemes, and 61% of all private sector businesses in the UK are SME’s (small and medium enterprises) as found by gov.uk.
There are pros and cons of both graduate and non-graduate schemes; graduate schemes are likely to provide a lot of training and pay well, however, in a non-graduate role the company is likely to be more close knit and you will be thrown right into the deep end; which some desire for their first role.
How early should you start looking?
Luckily, companies do advertise for grad roles all year round, but for the top most competitive schemes they are getting earlier every year. To boost your chances of getting a graduate scheme start looking at those positions at the very start of your third year, and prepare yourself different copies of your CV.
Utilising websites like LinkedIn; the biggest database of professionals and job opportunities, is a good tool. Attending career fairs and networking events will also help meet potential employers. A lot of job applications fall between May- July, and again Sep-Nov, so it may be worth planning your holidays with that in mind.
Where should you look?
When searching for a job online, it is important not just to look at the typical jobs sites. There are a lot of jobs listed in other places for example Gumtree, LinkedIn and websites dedicated to specific sectors.
Although a lot of jobs are posted online, many also aren’t. Emailing companies on spec and speaking to friends and family could help you seek out new opportunities.
How to write the best applications
According to the Independent, nearly 40% of graduates are still looking for work 6 months after graduating. To ensure your applications are top of the pile, ensure that you carefully tailor each application to the job spec. Do not send out generic applications. This is the BIGGEST mistake you can make. If the job wants skills in customer service, think of a time you have used that skill and include it in your CV. For another job that doesn’t require customer service, you may not include it.
A few CV tips:
* DO NOT include a photograph.
* DO write in black font, it has to be legible.
* DO use an appropriate font. The best font choices are Calibri, Cambria, Garamond and Helvetica.
* DO include your full name, correct mobile number, address and email.
* DO NOT try and be humorous on your CV. Keep it professional.
* DO make it concise. Try and aim to keep your CV at 1.5 pages’ maximum.
* DO check your grammar is spot on. A poorly written CV looks very unprofessional.
* DO put work experience in chronicle order (but qualifications can be in order of prominence).
* DO ask your referees for permission to use them as a referee. It’s good to have to hand 1 or 2 professional references, as well as a character reference.
* DO ask for feedback, and take it on board.
We spoke to a young graduate who has recently secured herself a job.
“I was searching for a job for 4 months, applying to 20 jobs and wondering why I wasn’t getting anything back! Instead of sending off the same CV each time, I started spending a whole day on just 1 or 2 applications, ensuring my cover letter and CV was well written and only the most relevant experience was included. I landed a job at a Marketing firm within a month.” – Lisa, 23, Marketing executive.
We also spoke to Darren from Savoystewart.co.uk, a commercial property company, who gave his feedback:
“When hiring, we appreciate a well written cover letter and CV, with no spelling errors, and experience and skills put down that demonstrates they have carefully read the job description. We don’t expect every candidate to have direct practical experience, but even thinking about skills gained from university societies, voluntary work etc. is great and shows candidates are proactive.”
Ultimately, getting a job is not easy. It takes time and effort, but if you land your dream job, it’s all worth it in the end. The most important thing to remember is be positive and patient; take knockbacks as they come and learn from them. The next opportunity could be right round the corner, and it could be an even better one.
Good luck in your job search!