“You’ll need to be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort in your application…”
So, you’re finishing your degree and now it’s time to start putting some effort into getting your foot on the first rung of the career ladder and accessing the graduate job market. Here, we investigate some ways of finding that all-important first role.
Prepare your CV
Before you start applying for roles, make sure your CV is up to scratch, so that you can apply quickly and with confidence. The last thing you want is to have to prepare a CV in a hurry or submit something littered with mistakes that won’t make it past online recruitment systems. We’ve written you a guide to make sure your CV is application ready (available here), or you can submit for a free review here.
Your university careers department will probably lay on fairs and there are also numerous outside events to choose from. The key with a careers fair is to plan ahead and do your research – find out which employers are attending and decide if they’re of interest to you. Then plan which stands you want to visit, bearing in mind that fairs can be busy and attract long queues. Some fairs will also offer talks, workshops and other services, so book in plenty of time.
Careers fairs provide the opportunity to chat directly with employers and ask questions, which can be difficult with other forms of job hunting. Again, it’s worth taking time in advance to think about what questions you’d like to ask your target employers and carrying out so industry- or company-specific research so that you can have an informed discussion. Remember that first impressions count, so dress appropriately and take high-quality hard-copies of your CV with you.
Any professional who is serious about their career now is expected to have a LinkedIn profile – even if they’re just starting out. Build a strong profile showcasing your skills, experience, academic qualifications and other achievements, then get active looking for jobs from their vast database of vacancies. You can set your preferences and career interests so that LinkedIn notifies you of vacancies in your field of interest and chosen location.
The site also enables you to engage in professional networking. Post relevant updates and let contacts know you’ve completed your degree and are ready for a new challenge so that you’re top of their mind if they have, or hear of, suitable vacancies.
The advantage of job boards is that there is a vast – almost overwhelming – number of vacancies advertised in one place. They’re a time-efficient way of searching and applying for jobs (you can apply for multiple vacancies at 3 am in your pyjamas, while eating pizza, if you like!) but adverts do attract a huge number of applications and the sites don’t capture the large number of vacancies that aren’t advertised. You’ll also need to make sure your CV or application form contains the right keywords to get your application through the first stage, which is often automated, and be prepared not to hear back from recruiters. There are some specialist job boards out there, dedicated to advertising graduate opportunities and giving you tailored advice, so its worth hunting them down to see what they can offer.
Grad schemes are a popular way of starting your career, especially if you know which industry you want to work in. They usually offer good starting salaries and competitive training opportunities. Big name companies offering such schemes can offer broad industry exposure, as well as looking great on your CV when the time comes to move on. However, competition for these schemes is fierce, so you’ll need to be prepared to invest a lot of time and effort in your application, at all stages.