Will I ever get a graduate job?
That’s it, you did it! You have just finished 3 or 4 years of hard work, partying and making new friends for life.
Now you’re back at home sat at your desk staring at the four walls around you that somehow feel very different and not quite like home, trying to look for a job. The door knocks and you get the dreaded questions ‘any luck?’ and ‘can you quickly wizz around with the hoover?’.
All your friends have a job so why haven’t you? Your smug best friend down at the pub has landed an amazing new graduate role which they have no problem telling you all about. The excellent gym benefits and bonuses, the list goes on, blah blah blah….
So bear this in mind – it’s not just you! On average graduates are still looking for work six months after graduating and believe me I speak to many of them.
Fear not, hopefully I have a few tips to help you and with lots of interview practice, dedication and patience, you will land a good graduate role.
- Get your CV out there – register your CV online to job boards. CV Library, Monster, Reed, Indeed and Total Jobs to name a few. Make sure you log-in once a week as this will bump your CV to the top of the pile. Use key words and skills as this is what recruiters use to find CVs for certain jobs. Make sure you keep your CV to 2 pages or 3 at most, no one wants to read every little detail, we just don’t have the time. Write a short profile about yourself and the skills you have to offer. If you have been travelling, add this to your CV, it explains any gaps and it’s good life experience, so don’t hide it.
- Create a LinkedIn account – Make an account and use it. You can add your CV, skills, advertise yourself as ‘Open to Opportunities’ and search for jobs. Also connect with people in the industry you are interested in, you never know they could be looking.
- Recruiters – Love us or hate us we are here to find people jobs. Register your details with local high street recruiters and also seek out specialists in the sector you are looking for. Keep options open when recruiters make suggestions on jobs you hadn’t considered before. If you do land an interview in something you hadn’t considered, go along to the interview as it’s good practice and you might end up really liking it. Keep in contact with your recruiter as they have hundreds of candidates and its hard to keep track of everyone. And finally, never make a payment to a recruiter to send your CV off for a role or for using their services.
- Get a part-time job – If you can get a part-time job then get one as it will keep you busy and give you a routine and you won’t have gaps in your CV. You have been so used to structure for the last 20-odd years so to suddenly stop that can be quite hard. Also the extra beer money can come in very handy too! But make sure the role offers the flexibility to attend interviews as you don’t want to get stuck in it.
- Sign on (JSA)– I have spoken to some graduates before and sadly there seems to be a slight stigma about Job Seekers Allowance. You will be paying for this for most of your working life so when you need it, use it! It’s not a huge amount but the extra £50 or £60 per week could help get you to that interview. Train Tickets and petrol are expensive.
- Focus – Set aside some time to make applications, a couple of hours a day should help. Don’t try and do it all day as you will soon lose interest and you won’t be very productive.
- Interviews – If you have landed an interview MAKE SURE YOU DO YOUR RESEARCH. There’s nothing worse for a recruiter than a candidate who hasn’t researched the role, even when you have given them all the information on a plate. Go on the company website, look up the interviewers on LinkedIn and go over the job description. If there are words and phrases you don’t understand, Google it or ask your recruiter if the role came from them. Think about the company’s competitors and find out if there is any current news about the company. Always have a good answer as to why you want to work for them. Saying ‘the recruiter suggested it so I thought I would give it a go’ won’t suffice…. Yes this did actually happen.
- Smile – Always smile when you meet someone new as it puts you and them at ease. This is especially handy in a telephone interview as it changes your voice tone and when you don’t have any eye contact this is especially helpful. Thank the interviewer for their time and accept criticism when you get feedback. Every interview is a learning experience which you can use for the next one.
- Competency interviews – Always have a good team working question up your sleeve or an example of a difficult situation you have overcome and don’t be worried about using university as an example if you have no work experience.
- Finally, manage your expectations – Yes some of you will get lucky and land your dream job and I would say stick with that goal at first, but as time goes on and the interviews are not happening, it’s time to rethink. Are there other jobs that can be a foot in the door to the job I really want? Don’t be snooty about a role that’s not your dream job. Cast your net out wide, a job’s a job at the end of the day and you will be learning new skills, earning a wage and developing as a person.
As a graduate myself albeit a little while ago now, I know it can be a struggle but stick with it. Listen to advice from your elders and as my colleague always says: ‘there’s a job out there for everyone’.
Good luck and remember not to be too hard on yourself.
This article was written by Sian Thorn, Graduate Consultant at the Emerald Group.