If you’re making your way through your final year—or recovering from it after graduation—you’ll need to turn your attention away from your studies and toward an even tougher challenge: securing a graduate job. The good news is that once you land a full-time graduate position, building a career becomes far easier. The bad news is that getting started can take a huge amount of effort. Here are eight tips and a bit of encouragement to help make your graduate job search more efficient and productive.
1. Open your mind
Even if you have a firm idea of your dream job, you’ll likely take a winding road to get there, so try to stay optimistic after you graduate. You can start nearly anywhere and still map out a path to the job you’ve always wanted, so don’t limit yourself when searching for your first graduate job. Starting off in a position unrelated to your long-term career goals can even strengthen your CV down the line by demonstrating your resourcefulness and adaptability. You might even pick up a few skills that set you apart from the pack later on.
Go ahead and apply for jobs that don’t appear to be specially designed for new graduates. Your primary goal at this stage is to show future employers that you’re good at simply having a job—that you’re reliable, punctual, collegial, and productive. You can prove those qualities (and improve them, if need be) just about anywhere. Once you do, every one of your future job searches will become loads easier.
2. Sign up with agencies and job sites
Some elements of your graduate job search will take good amounts of time and effort. While you’re putting in the time to apply for specific positions, consider signing up for agencies and job sites that do some of the work for you. These elements of your job search are largely passive, so they won’t take much of your time once you get them going.
A good, credible agency will take some time to discuss your background and aspirations. From there, they’ll share your CV and associated information with companies likely to show an interest in your application. No credible agency will ask you to pay for the privilege of their services: they make their money on fees charged to employers once they’ve made a hire.
Job sites aren’t as personal as agencies, but signing up for alerts from a few large job sites can bring opportunities to your attention. Some job sites allow prospective employers to search users’ profiles and contact candidates directly.
3. Get your LinkedIn profile in order
LinkedIn can serve as a job site, but in many industries, it serves as a sort of extended business card, a declaration of who you are and what you can offer a new employer. Even if you don’t use all its bells and whistles, LinkedIn can help your graduate job search simply by virtue of demonstrating that you are a qualified, serious candidate. Imagine a hiring supervisor trying to decide whom to interview among a pool of candidates whose CVs made the first cut. Write your LinkedIn profile to that sort of viewer.
4. Do your homework
School’s done, or nearly so, but you’ll have homework of one sort or another for the rest of your life. When you’re looking for your first graduate job, that means learning more about every opportunity that catches your eye and researching every company you apply to. Your CV and cover letter will need to show that you understand the company, division, and team for whom you’d like to work and that you have an idea of how your skills and temperament can help them succeed. In between applications, you can always learn about specific sectors and types of work that you find interesting.
5. Take initiative
Don’t limit your research to formally announced job offerings. If a company seems interesting to you, go ahead and study it to see if your first impressions hold true. Follow their social media presences, keep an eye out for mentions of them in the news, and regularly read their websites (especially their job listings). Do the same for different types of work.
You might think to yourself…can networking help me get a graduate job? The answer is yes! Some people take naturally to that sort of thing; others find it difficult. If you’re in the latter camp, remember that building a network is really just a matter of finding people who share your interests and talking shop with them.
Finally, don’t be shy about following up with agencies or employers after an interview. As long as you’re not pushy, you’ll let the right people know how serious you are about your candidacy. Even if you don’t land the graduate job, you could find yourself adding some valuable names to your network.
6. Keep at it!
Your graduate job search might take some time. You might face rejection week after week for months. Don’t let that get to you—set aside at least a couple of hours a day for research, networking, and other activities related to your graduate job search. If you hit a lull, try sharing your CV with someone you trust and asking for a critique, or even practising your interviewing technique with a friend. There’s always something to do, and every little step you take brings you closer to success
7. Get a mentor
You’re not meant to do this all alone. Most graduates find it a bit difficult to structure their job searches and to keep working productively toward their goals week after week, even when their efforts don’t seem to generate any results. A mentor can give you the perspective and guidance you need to keep the wind in your sails, and can help keep your job search moving productively forward. We can provide you with a wide range of mentors in many different industries that can help you go where you want to go! This step will help guide you on dealing with all the previous steps we have mentioned, so it really is the most important. You will gain all the knowledge you need to help you land that graduate job.