A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Securing a job: A graduate's top tips!

A few months ago, I was asked by a friend who is coming to the end of their time at university: "How did you manage to get a job after university?"

Thinking of last summer now makes me feel very, very old! I had just left university and was desperate for a graduate role and I really did not want to settle for a standard job. Although a lot of people find taking a few 'months off' essentially in their local pub refreshing, I wanted to be focused and find myself a role which I needed my degree for. After all, I still had everything I had learnt in my degree fresh in my mind! 

I feel like I have learnt a lot about life in general since last summer and in particular working life. Although I'm still only young, I have learnt some skills over the past year which actually work when applying for jobs and if you're coming up to graduating or looking for a job change, you might like to have a read of my tips...

1) Have a think about the type of job you really, really want.

What is it that you really want to do and how are you going to get there? When I first started applying for graduate roles last summer, I wrote down my dream job. I then got thinking about all that jobs that I could do that could lead me to this 'dream job'. Then, I applied for these jobs which would eventually lead me to my dream job. It's all about experience when applying for jobs, so I wrote down what experience I had done and what skills I had gained from them and if I enjoyed any experience enough to consider doing it as a job. By doing this, it helped me massively as I could then focus on particular career options instead of going crazy on Indeed and applying for everything within a 500000 mile radius. If you're unsure of how to get to your dream role, think about someone who does that job and simply get in touch ask them what it took for them to get there.

2) Understand your skills and think about the money you should be earning.

When I was beginning to apply for jobs last year, the income always completely surprised me. It is definitely worth doing some research into how much graduate roles earn in the industry you wish to work in, so you are aware of how much junior roles tend to earn in comparison to directors of the company, and all the roles in between! Think about all the skills and experience you already have and what type of degree you have or hope to get (1st class, 2.1, 2.2 etc) and consider what type of money you want from the job. It is probably best to not be too fussy in your first role and always remember that there may well be opportunities to work your way up and make more money in no time. You also need to remember that the money isn't everything, if you're doing something you WANT to do then believe me, the money will be much better to earn than being in a job you dislike but being on a good wage. After all, this isn't a hobby and this is something you will be doing every day, so focus on the job itself more than the money. However, you need to remember how much money you need to live on though and your circumstances; Will you be commuting? Will you be paying rent and bills? Just remember these things when applying for roles.

3) Get your CV sorted and write a different cover letter for every job.

This is one of the most important things to do when applying for a job. Your CV and cover letter is what an employer will first see of you and the first impression you give, so make sure it's something that they will remember. A CV can be designed depending on the industry you want to work in. If you're wanting a job in law or something similar, a professional CV is obviously needed. But if you're a creative type, like myself, and applying for a role which you will need to be creative for, it's cool to make your CV a bit more attractive. I have two CV's; one colourful page with relevant jobs and experience, skills, references and personal information like address and phone number on. My other CV is still colourful but is 2 pages, kind of an extended version, and goes into more detail about my responsibilities at previous roles. Depending on the job application in question, I will send either one of these. Some company's just want something they can scan over and others want to know loads about you, so it's worthwhile having two different ones. I'd also recommend writing cover letters for a specific role rather than have a cover letter for all jobs. Although it's a bit more time consuming, it's worth it as you can focus on your skills for that particular job and definitely makes you look like you are more committed to that role and not just being lazy and applying for anything. On my CV, I also include links to my blog, Mixcloud and Twitter. After all, my blog and Mixcloud show some of my skills and seeing as I will tend to apply for roles which will have a social media aspect, its worthwhile adding my Twitter to the page as it then shows that I understand social media.

4) The importance of social media.

Employers are going to look at your social media, that's the way it works nowadays! So it really is so, so important that you are aware of how your social media portrays yourself. If you would rather things be kept personal, then simply make your social media accounts private. But make sure you check everything on your social media accounts and get rid of anything that could be seen as fairly inappropriate. After all, these employers will be thinking about the way that you will represent them if you were to hire them, so don't put yourself in a situation where it's easy for them to put a big NO next to your name!

5) Be interview ready.

If you secure yourself an interview, make sure you have an interview outfit and do plenty of research on the company and the role itself. By doing your research, you will come across much more organised and more serious about the role as you have taken the time to understand the company. Make notes and read them over as much as you can before you go to the interview on the company, the role and the specific skills you have to bring to the role. Other interview tips I would give is to be super smiley and friendly, give a firm handshake and show some interest in the office or location. I would also suggest to consider your tone; try not to use too much slang or lazy words. Also, make sure you sell yourself well! Be positive about yourself and be confident in your abilities and skills and what you can bring to the job. You may be asked to take part in a telephone or skype interview too, so make sure you're also prepared for those situations too; telephone interviews in a way are fantastic because you can have your page of notes in front of you!

6) Stay positive and keep on applying! 

In total, I have had 20 graduate role interviews in the past year, so I'm hardly a pro in securing jobs myself, but it's all about persistence and keeping positive. It's hard work and getting rejected from jobs can be really tough as it damages your confidence. But you really just have to keep applying for roles you want and if something is meant to be, it will be. It is also worthwhile registering to a few agencies too, as they will be looking for jobs for you as well as yourself, so it's a real team effort and gives you more of a chance of securing something sooner. Also remember that it is completely OK to get yourself a little job whilst applying for jobs which will lead to your dream career, as long as you stay focused on what you want and how you're going to get there. I stayed positive and I start my new role next week, so it definitely works.

7) Start applying as soon as possible.

It is definitely worth applying for jobs as soon as possible. I began to apply for roles last April, so a month before I finished university. Although this tactic didn't work for me and I didn't secure my previous role until the August, I would still recommend it. After all, when it gets to summer time, thousands of graduates will all be applying for the same roles, so get in there a few weeks before everyone else!

What advice would you give? If you have any other questions, get in touch and I'll help where I can!

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