Graduates: how to find a job
If you're a graduate on the job hunt, here are some tips on how to get started.
Hundreds of thousands of new graduates from the class of 2012 are about to enter an extremely competitive job market. With the unemployment rate for recent graduates currently at 18.9%, the next set will need to get more creative in their job search to ensure they are able to find work.
Here are our top tips on getting started.
Tailor your application
It seems like a simple and maybe obvious thing to do, yet many people send out a generic CV and only change their cover letter to suit the job they are going for.
Tailoring your whole application to suit the job advertised will help make your case to employers as to why you’re the right match. Use the requirements of a job role and adapt how your experience meets them on all parts of your application.
For more tips on CV writing take a look at: How to write the perfect CV.
Add to your CV
Internships, work experience and voluntary work will help you gain an advantage in the labour market. They provide proof that you have real life work experience as well as academic training. Lots of companies want your time for free, but there are plenty of paid positions available. Take a look at Graduate Talent Pool and Prospects for the latest opportunities.
Use your university
Your university website is often a rich source of vacancies. Some are free for everyone to use, but others limit access to students and alumni so make sure you get a login. They typically advertise local jobs, national jobs, placements and internships.
Try the University of the Arts London website, which is full of exciting opportunities.
Be industry specific
Websites such as Fish4jobs, Jobsite, Monster, Reed and Totaljobs are all very useful in the hunt for a job and you should sign up for alerts as soon as you can. But an even better approach is to be much more specific.
This means signing up with recruitment agencies that specialise in your field (try ic3e if electronics and engineering is your thing), finding websites that lists jobs for a certain industry (like Gorkana for PR and journalist jobs) and reading trade journals/magazines to stay up-to-date on new opportunities (the Bookseller is a good one for those in publishing).
Trawling the jobs or careers section of a company’s website could be more fruitful than going for a host of generic job roles listed on popular websites and newspapers.
Make a list of companies you know you would like to work for, then search their websites on a regular basis. Using this method regularly means you have a good chance of finding a job advert that hasn’t been seen by that many people, as some companies do not have the resources to use recruiters or external advertising.
Look at SMEs
If The Times list of 100 top graduate employers isn't working out for you, try going for small and medium enterprises or SMEs.
Mike Hill, Chief Executive at Prospects says "large employers may be more visible, but smaller businesses offer variety, responsibility and rewards to rival the big names".
Go to a careers fair
If you didn’t attend any at university, there is still time. Careers fairs are useful for meeting the people running companies and understanding what you need to get in - all within a nice friendly atmosphere.
But remember they are only as useful as you make them - so just don’t go and not talk to anyone! You get careers advice, CV tips, exposure to businesses you had never even heard of and a whole load of contacts to take away with you. Fairs are usually free to get into, but you probably have to book your place to avoid disapointment. The graduate careers website, Prospects, has a pretty comprehensive list of fairs going on near you.
Use social media
Social media has become an important platform for potential candidates and employers. As I explained in why job hunters should give the Jobcentre a miss, websites like Linkedin and Twitter could be overtaking traditional methods of job hunting and recruiting, where people have the opportunity to market themselves on a professional level.
Increasingly recruiters are using things like Linkedin and Twitter to screen candidates so your online presence should be immaculate.
Use your contacts
People you have met at university, a previous job or even a work experience placement can be valuable to your job search. If you keep in contact they may alert you of new opportunities and can be a source of advice.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have scored a job straightaway you may need to multitask to earn money and keep your skills up-to-date. To keep your head above water, get any sort of jobyou can, whether it's in a pub, waiting tables or in a shop. But at the same time keep looking and if possible try to keep your skills relevant and your mind working by doing a short course. The Open University has a few of interest here.
Postgraduate study could help you refine your career direction or try something a bit different. But this will come at a cost and if you can’t get funding and don’t have anything saved up, it may not be a viable option. If you can’t afford further study there could be a better answer in getting paid to learn on the job. Take a look at some options in: Where to find apprenticeships, bursaries and training schemes.
Sometimes the bleak news headlines can make you fearful and being unemployed for a long time can get you down, but as long as you stay positive and determined to succeed you will eventually get the interview that allows you to shine.
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