Finding a job after you graduate can be tough, especially in the current climate but don’t worry. We have compiled a list of dos and don’t so you can secure your post-graduate job.
Applying for all jobs with the same CV and covering letter
Apply for jobs that match your skillset and qualifications. Specifically, tailor your CV and skills to match those listed in the job specifications. Likewise, your covering letter may read as generic, try to mention the company name and why you were excited to see the job advert. What is about a company that makes you want to work for them? Research the brand and take onboard or comment on their values and ethos as a company. It shows your interest lies deeper than just needing a job and money, but a genuine interest in them as a business.
Don’t have enough experience for the job, but can’t get the experience without the job
Catch 22 for graduates, particularly difficult for graduates that started their degree courses straight after their A-Levels without a previous employer. If the job you are applying for is directly related to your field of study and the job specification as for only candidates with 2 years of previous work experience, still apply for the job. The 3-4 years of study still count as experience in your field of expertise. In your downtime, you could research free online courses that may help you bag the type of job you desire. There are plenty of courses online using companies such as Reed and Futurelearn.
Only applying for the ‘perfect’ jobs
Applying for jobs is a game of numbers. If you apply for only jobs that meet all your requirements you might be unemployed for a long time. You will have to broaden your criteria. When you are a graduate it is easy to feel like you have worked hard for years and deserve nothing but the best. The only issue here is that there are others, like you, who have the right degrees backed up with a few years experience doing a job that they didn’t necessarily feel was perfect. Gain experience where you can, and make the perfect job your long term goal.
Virtual internships *link to virtual internships post when it’s released*
Virtual internships have exploded since the pandemic and could be the perfect opportunity to get the experience you require and to also test the water to see if your desired role really is your dream job. With this evolution in the way things are done, these internships can now be done completely remotely, giving the graduates the option to work anywhere in the world and work hours that suit their needs and match their lifestyle. They are a fantastic way to gain experience.
Apply for the job you want
This seems to go against the grain of the previous paragraph but you miss every shot you don’t take. If you devalue your skills and only apply for entry-level positions and internships that’s where you will stay. You should still apply for all the jobs you would love. If you get rejected, request feedback. The business may not give you back anything valuable, but at the same time, they might. This sort of feedback is valuable and can help you see what the companies you are trying to break into require from you.
Extracurricular work and experience is transferable
Did you lead a team of volunteers on a project? This shows you have organisational and people skills. Did you contribute to a student newspaper? This shows you have time management skills and can meet deadlines. All of these extras which you may have done for fun can show off the extra time you have put it to learn new skills and keep yourself busy.
Only applying for jobs online
Covid willing, career fairs are excellent for meeting employers face to face. Be confident, introduce yourself, have a firm handshake and make eye contact with them during your conversation. This will leave a good impression with them, if they remember you as a bright, enthusiastic individual they’re more likely to hire you than somebody from a pile of CVs. If you cannot attend a fair due to social distancing, you can still call. Prepare some questions about the role and contact the person who is hiring. This shows willing and that you are making sure you and the business could be a good partnership. Your name will be more obvious when they are sifting through the many applications.
Use your network to find a job
Use your loose connections to find work. Friends or acquaintances might have a job for you or know somebody with available work. Get that friend to make an introduction and recommendation. Using social media networks like Linkedin can be unbelievably valuable. Make sure all of your experience and degrees have a prominent position. Search for brands you would like to work for and start adding people. Show off your skills and knowledge with posts relevant to your desired role.
Self-regulate your online presence
People let loose at university, they get drunk, embarrass themselves and somebody takes a photo of it and puts it on Facebook. A few years later an employer sees this photo when researching a candidate. Instant rejection. Set your Facebook profile to private, and moderate what you post on Facebook and Twitter. Ask yourself, would my parents be embarrassed by this status/tweet? If the answer is yes, then you should leave the ‘banter’ for offline. There is also a recent trend for medical practitioners and school teachers to replace their surnames on Facebook with an alias. It stops patients and pupils from adding/following them and separates work and personal lives.
Forgetting to proof-read your application
Spelling and grammar mistakes only show that you haven’t taken the time to check your work. This reflects poorly on you and will lead the employer to think you wouldn’t do a thorough job. If you wish to have a second set of eyes on your application before you send it, ask a friend or family member to have a look through. If that’s not an option, set away from your writing for a few hours then come back to it with fresh eyes. If you want to make certain that the mistakes are kept to a minimum, apps like Grammarly work as a perfect set of second eyes and is an invaluable tool.
Not asking a question in the interview
Always have a question prepared for the end of the interview, it shows your interest in the job and the company. An interview is a two-way process, it’s a chance for you to find out more about your potential new boss/line-manager and see if you would be happy at this job. Ask what they like about working for the company etc. If they have specific values, asking questions about them will underline that you have done your research and wish to understand them better. Write the questions down! An interview can be a stressful situation which can make you forget things.
Not researching the company before your interview
Always research the company, it not only helps you decide whether you will really want to work for them but when the interviewer asks you a question about the work the company does you will have an answer for them. There is nothing worse than not being able to answer a question in an interview. If they have specifics that you feel you may get asked about, write them down. This day and age a lot of initial interviews are being done on the phone or over a Zoom/Skype set up which means you can have prompts around you so you don’t get caught out.
Complaining about past employers
It’s like talking about an ex on your first date, don’t do it, nobody wants to hear it. Being negative about a former boss will leave an interviewer thinking one of two things; you might be a whiner and complainer rather than having a genuine dispute (they would only know your half of the story and there are always two sides to it) and they will wonder what you might say about them if you moved on from this new job.
All these points show us that getting a job can be an exhausting process. It can take a lot of time to get right, but we hope that if you follow these points, then you should find that the success of bagging your dream role. Just remember to be patient, thoughtful in your process and precise in your words.