If you’re struggling to get a foot on the career ladder, read our advice for recent graduates.
This article is a guide to help recent graduates secure a graduate level role, which will suit them and which they can flourish in. It discusses a series of steps, which will lead to them being in the best position to achieve success.
While the transition from education to the world of work has never been an easy one, it is proving particularly challenging for the latest batch of graduates. That’s why we’ve decided to write an article that provides graduates with any skill set a tried and trusted approach to getting their foot in the door of the real world job market during this global pandemic.
Talk to other people
Your first step as a new graduate is talking to other people. Other people’s opinions and experiences can be fundamental to informing your own choices and giving you a real life experience of particular job roles. Often people will be able to tell you what you’re good at and what they see you doing.
It’s often best to ask close friends and family; after all, they do say that you’re a reflection of the five people that you spend the most time with!
They can also offer you valuable advice, including the best job aggregator websites, interview tips and techniques and share their contacts with you and perhaps even put in a good word with employers.
It’s also a good idea to begin to build your own network. Think about family friends, acquaintances etc. who have connections to roles that you can see yourself doing well in.
An excellent way to network is to use LinkedIn. Start with your old school and university friends and then expand your network out to people who might be useful for your career plans.
Narrow it down
It might be that your career plans are vague at this stage. If that’s the case, don’t worry. What you need to do is narrow them down.
Some people are tempted to use the scattergun approach, where they just apply for every position going, hoping to eventually get a job through sheer volume of applications.
This is not recommended as it doesn’t often work and the roles you could get will likely not suit you or not be graduate level. It can also be psychologically demoralising to experience a series of rejections.
After speaking to family, friends and careers advisors or similar, the next way to narrow down your search should be using job matching sites, which use your personality and skill set to suggest jobs that might suit you. Other services offer a range of suggestions for job roles based on what you studied at university.
The best way to quantify your skills, get to know yourself better and create a good foundation for a new CV is by writing a skills audit. For a good template, the Civil Service Key Competencies document is very useful, especially for those with an interest in applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream.
A skills audit can be general and include abilities that many employers value, such as teamwork and efficiency, but you may well want to create a few modified versions, which correspond to specific job roles and types. You can then use these as the basis for several varied CVs.
Find a part-time role
Working a part-time job while you’re looking for a new full-time graduate role makes a lot of sense. It’s a good way to make an income to tide you over and it gives you experience in a certain sector.
It’s also great for your CV as it demonstrates both wide-ranging experience and competencies and prevents there from being a dreaded employment gap.
At certain times of the year, such as the run-up to Christmas, there is plenty of work available, often on a temporary or casual basis.
One of the most flexible roles available is working as a brand ambassador, where you represent a specific product or service, often just as a one-off, although they can also offer contracts lasting several months.
Creating a profile on an aggregator website can often lead to you being informed of local roles without having to lift a finger. Many other job sites allow you to search for work by type, such as “part time” and “contract”.
The ideal thing to find for the time being would be an internship relevant to the field that you want to work in. This work experience will enhance your CV more than anything else and set you apart from the crowd. Once you have a foot on the career ladder, climbing it will be all the easier.
Make yourself more employable
In order to succeed in the real world job market, it is important to make yourself as employable as possible. This means gaining skills outside of the workplace, in order to make yourself a better prospect.
IT skills are incredibly important as the majority of graduate level jobs are digital. Courses such as the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) focus on Microsoft Office, which is useful for nearly all graduates to know about.
If you’re looking for a creative role, qualifications in software, such as Adobe Creative Suite, will help massively. Check out websites which compile online tutorials, many of which are free.
Being proficient in a number of coding languages is important for those who want to work in software development and other advanced fields. Many roles prefer candidates with knowledge of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
Knowledge of a foreign language can often set your CV apart, especially if it is widely used in corporate settings. Examples include French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
Another way to boost your employability is demonstrate a passion for extracurricular activities. This will show employers that you’re not a one trick pony or a workaholic but rather an individual with a range of interests. You can also demonstrate work-related skills, such as leadership, teamwork and interpersonal skills.
Write a general CV
Perhaps one of the most daunting tasks facing a graduate on a new job search is writing their CV. It’s likely that your old pre-university CV or anything written a few years ago just won’t cut the mustard any more, so you may want to start from scratch.
If you have no work experience to put on your CV, don’t worry. There are ways that you can help to fill out your CV with relevant and valuable experiences.
One thing that should definitely feature in your CV is your language skills, which will be crucial when applying for some roles and set you apart from others more often than not.
Once you have compiled a general CV, it might be time to start a few different versions, which emphasise different skills and work experiences and sell you in a different way. You can then apply to really specific roles.
To make sure that you are on the right track, it might be a good idea to make use of CV analysing software. There are many free websites that offer this service and it is also included in more recent versions of Microsoft Word.
Don’t forget that the other thing that employers frequently check is your social media, specifically LinkedIn. Including a hyperlink to your profile is always a good idea. Make sure that you translate everything in your CV across to your LinkedIn profile so that you can showcase your skills there too. It’s also a good place to look for work through the jobs page.
Make sure that you keep on top of your applications and record which opportunities and companies you’ve applied to.
Look after yourself
We’ve saved the most important advice for last. Job hunting, particularly in the current climate, requires a lot of patience and resilience against inevitable knockbacks. It’s important to keep a work-life balance as ever.
Remember that to feel and perform your best you need to look after your mind and body. This means taking regular breaks for fresh air and exercise, eating well, socialising and also taking time for yourself.
Don’t be afraid to talk to people if you feel that things are getting on top of you.
Find a mentor
If you’re not sure what your next move should be or how to go about making sure that you secure yourself a well-paying graduate level job with good prospects for advancement, you probably need a mentor. If you don’t have someone who could act as an experienced and trusted adviser in your circle at the moment, why not expand your horizons?
Graduate Coach helps students, graduates and career changers to secure good graduate level jobs. We do this by offering a range of products and services that are designed to give individuals everything they need to know to get the jobs they really want.
Whatever industry and focus you’re looking for, we can help you. We offer career coaching to help you to produce an achievement-based CV, cover letters, interview training and much more. Get in touch with us today.