Our four top tips for graduates looking for a local job
July marks the beginning of graduate season. Up and down the country, nervous final year students wait for their degree classifications, hoping for something to celebrate.
But after the excitement of collecting your diploma and chucking your caps in the air for the photo opportunity, what’s next?
According to official UK labour market statistics, around 31% of graduates are not in graduate-level employment. Some graduates look instead to travel, take on a postgraduate course or accept a part-time job while they figure out what career path they want to take, but a good proportion of this 31% also feel lost and unsure of where or how to look for a graduate job.
In addition to this, nearly half of the UK’s Level 3 students (A-levels or equivalent) end up progressing on to a university course, which is up from under 20% just 20 years ago. With the student population growing, some university leavers fear that the graduate job market is becoming over saturated, and that they won’t get onto the lucrative graduate scheme of any of the top-level companies they apply to.
If you’re a university leaver who is anxious about starting your career, or are perhaps unsure of where to start when looking for a graduate job, don’t worry! MNA Recruitment have years of experience helping graduates understand the job market they are entering, and have some expert tips we’d like to share that you may not have thought of:
1) Make sure your CV demonstrates your skill-set, not just your education
You should quite rightly bring attention to your degree and display your classification on your CV with pride, but be mindful that most employers are looking for well-rounded candidates.
It’s crucial that you get the balance of your CV right, so don’t go top-heavy with your academic achievements. Make sure there’s a substantial section that demonstrates your skills in the work environment, which includes any jobs you’ve held, internships, placements or voluntary work you have completed. It can also include any societies you were a member of, any enrichment activities you have been involved in, and even sports teams you have played for.
Remember; it’s important to have the brain power, but if an employer can’t see any evidence of job-related skills, your CV will more likely than not end up in the reject pile.
2) Sell your stories, not your abilities
At every stage of a job application – from submitting your CV and covering letter, to giving a presentation based on real-life situations for your potential line manager – you need to prove your abilities. It’s not enough to say you are organised, or that you are a natural team leader; you need to give solid examples that show you possess these abilities.
Give yourself your best chance by writing an exhaustive list of all your work-related experiences, including notable achievements, challenges you overcame and skills that you learned through the process. Learn that list, so you always have the evidence at hand to back your claims up. This is especially useful during interview, where you may need to give answers on the spot.
3) Look for graduate-level jobs, not just ‘graduate’ jobs
What we mean by this is to look deeper into job descriptions than you may be, because not every job suitable for graduates will signpost itself as such.
If you’re solely looking for jobs that have the word ‘graduate’ in the job description, you might struggle to compile an extensive enough list of positions to apply to.
Look for jobs in broader categories rather than specific job titles and read their descriptions carefully. One job title doesn’t mean the same thing at every company. For example, a marketing executive for a large financial company may have a completely different list of responsibilities than a marketing executive for a small start-up computing company.
If the skills required for the job match at least 70% of the skills that you possess, make an application. The perfect candidate doesn’t exist, and companies don’t expect to hire a candidate that is a 100% match to what they advertise for. Indeed, they will expect to have graduates apply for certain roles and will look for growth potential.
4) Don’t rely on the internet for your job research
Recruitment websites are undoubtedly useful and convenient. They can be a great way to start your search and help you form an idea of the kind of positions you want to apply for. However, relying on the internet to find a job is limiting.
There is a danger for young people to conduct all of their job research on their laptop or smartphone. This is understandable – you might be nervous and want to look into your options from the safety of your home – but finding some inner courage to be more direct with your search can show prospective employers that you’re made of the right stuff.
It’s well-known in many job networks that a lot of the good positions aren’t widely advertised. Show some initiative by calling or visiting a number of companies you’d like to work for. There will be some outright rejections, but you may find yourself presented with opportunities to talk to a manager or director about your ambitions and taking the next step. Even if you can’t secure a solid job, you may end up with valuable advice to go forward with.
It’s also highly recommended to visiting a recruitment agency to enquire about any positions they are filling. A lot of agencies will fill positions using their contacts rather than creating open adverts, so build some connections with recruiters in relevant sectors. Agencies can also help you with your application, including CV writing and mock interviews.
Making headway in the graduate job market can feel like navigating a stormy sea at times, but you will soon find direction. Be confident in yourself and remember to sell yourself as a person, not just as an employee.
If you’d like more help in getting your foot on the career ladder, you can book a call with us to talk about your options, and get some advice on improving your applications. Register your CV here.