How will your friends react when you tell them you’ve landed yourself a great job? How will you feel when the dreaded bank manager is off your back because you have secured a substantial pay-cheque each month?
Will you be excited, smug or just relieved that your educational and job-hunting efforts have really paid off?
Hang on…Can job hunting really be that straightforward and rewarding?
Most graduates hitting the job market for the first time expect to have to fill in loads of application forms, to take part in two-day interviews with all sorts of aptitude and personality testing, and to travel up and down the country with little to show for it.
But the truth is that job hunting can be fun, exciting and rewarding as long as you stay focused and concentrate on the profession you really want to follow.
It is unfortunate that many graduates get pulled along by the ‘rush’ to get selected and therefore spend a lot of time chasing jobs that don’t really suit them. This is why many graduates change jobs three or more times within the first 18 months out of college/university.
So, how do you stay focused with 200,000 graduates all after the ‘best’ jobs? Listed below are five top tips to help you tackle your job hunt in a systematic and business-like manner:
1. Be Realistic
It is tempting to think that you can be ‘all things to all employers’ but if this is your approach you will be swamped by what is on offer and will be unable to decide what to do. So, firstly and most importantly, you need to decide what profession you want to be in.
Why? Because it is the primary concern of the graduate recruiter to find graduates who can actually do the job on offer and what better insurance policy is there than someone who has done a related course or who has had practical experience during his/her vacation work?
The closer your targeted job relates to your course or work experience, the higher your salary expectation can be. So high-tech electronics companies will be looking for graduates with degrees in electronics or computing whereas a broadcasting company is likely to be interested in graduates from a broader range of disciplines with practical experience as well.
For instance, graduates who have had some experience of working on local radio, a local newspaper, hospital radio or something similar will interest them more than a graduate with a purely academic background. So decide upon your profession and target your applications/CV accordingly.
2. Be Smart
Think about, then action your individual job hunt. Be ahead of the game by rewriting your CV and application forms to have a business emphasis. Steer away from the common student writing style which includes too much emphasis on hobbies, course details, references, holiday travel and grades of every examination ever taken such as swimming, gymnastics and dance.
Focus instead on your language and choose words in your CV/application form that have a businesslike tone. Words like solved, performed, redirected, developed, implemented, sold and supervised create a positive businesslike impression and say so much more about you than woolly words like involved, assisted, hardworking, helpful and ambitious.
3. Be Special
Decide what is special about you. What are you offering your ‘new’ employer? Many graduates feel that being a graduate is enough, so they don’t work too hard on what they have to offer. This can also apply to some graduates within a job who don’t settle in or endear themselves to others once within the organisation because the ‘I am a graduate’ bit takes over.
Overcome this hurdle by forgetting the qualification bit and thinking in terms of your unique business skills. What can you do that would add value to your chosen company? What are you going to bring to an organisation? What personal skills do you have to offer? Yes, the focus is on how ‘You’ can make a positive difference to your chosen organisation.
4. Be Sexy
The thing to remember is that a lot of graduate applications are very dull, boring and lack enthusiasm for the job on offer. Create a bit of intrigue and sex appeal by committing your enthusiasm and talents to paper.
Employers love qualifications but they are also looking to recruit the other qualification, which is your personality. This determines how you come across, and how much potential you have. It also gives you the edge over other candidates with similar qualifications as yourself, so don’t downplay its importance. Remember that if you don’t include it on your CV/application form it could be assumed that you don’t have a personality!
5. Be Professional
Invest as much time and effort as you can into researching your chosen profession and putting your application together. So many graduates see a position they like the look of and just throw anything down on paper in the vain hope that it will get them the job.
Researching the company and writing a personalised CV/application form may seem to be a fruitless exercise if you don’t get offered the job but it is a Catch 22 situation. If you don’t put the effort in, your application doesn’t stand a chance.
Spend at least a couple of hours finding out about the position on offer and a similar amount of time, if not more, writing the application/CV.
This time can be reduced further if you spend a little bit of time discovering more about what makes employers choose certain applications rather than others.
Sarah Berry provides CV assessment services and books offering further advice and help for those wishing to write a winning CV/application form. Remember too that if your CV/application isn’t selling you then you are doing yourself a grave disservice. Good Luck and happy job hunting.