Graduation is a time to celebrate your success, but of course it’s also an opportunity to look to the future. Competing for graduate jobs is a challenge, as there will plenty of other candidates just like you vying for the best roles. How do you compete with them? We’ve come up with 6 pieces of advice that will help you gain the edge over other applicants and impress recruiters enough to give you a chance in the world of work.
1. Be honest
Your application should certainly make you look impressive, but exaggerating what you’ve done is never a good idea. The truth will come out eventually, and that’s likely to spell bad news for you. As well as avoiding information that isn’t true, employers are also turned off by candidates trying to build their experience up to be more than it is. Doing work experience is admirable, but trying to pretend that it taught you everything you need to know simply isn’t going to work. Instead, think about how the experience and qualifications you do have can be applied to this role, and bring these qualities to the floor.
2. Bring examples
Do you plan to tell recruiters that you’re good at working as part of a team? Or that you have a strong track record of showing initiative at work? Well, you’d better make sure you bring examples to back up these claims. After all, talk is cheap, and an employer will want some sort of evidence that you can display the qualities required for the role. Have one or two examples ready to highlight each skill that is outlined in the job description, and you’ll be sure to impress the interviewers.
3. Network efficiently
Not everyone enjoys networking. It can be nerve-wracking and for many graduates it is outside their comfort zone. If that’s you, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It’s also a skill that’s in your interests to learn, as it’s a really good way of getting your foot in the door. Most jobs aren’t even advertised, so building contacts is a strong strategy.
Networking is not the same as pitching or interviewing. You shouldn’t approach someone you’ve never met before and start listing the reasons why you’re perfect for their company. Instead, strike up a conversation and ask them questions, to show that you’re interested in what they have to say. Obviously, don’t forget to leave your details with them at the end of the conversation.
4. Use social media
While you can use social media to find job opportunities, that’s not quite what we mean here. If you’ve found a company you’d like to apply for, taking a look at their social media presence to get a feel for their tone of voice and how they talk to those who engage with them. While you obviously mustn’t be too informal in an interview or cover letter, by speaking in a way that fits in with their culture, you’ll seem like a better fit for their business.
5. Highlight your extra-curricular activities
It can be easy to forget about your extra-curricular activities, as they usually don’t feature until the end of your CV. However, when you consider the fact that many applicants are likely to have the same education and qualifications as you, they suddenly become a lot more important. Prospective employers don’t need a list of all your hobbies. Instead, think about whether what you’ve done outside work has helped you to acquire any skills that would be the useful for the role in question.
6. Quality not quantity
It can be tempting to send your CV out to as many potential employers as possible, but it’s an urge you should resist. Apart from anything else, employers can easily spot a generic application, so this approach is unlikely to be successful.
Instead, focus your energy on a select few roles that really appeal to you, and devote more time to making sure those applications are as strong as they can be. Additionally, avoid putting applications together when you’re not really in the mood. That feeling will probably come across in the finished product, and once again your chances of success will be diminished.