Following on from last week’s post on why graduates should ditch graduate schemes in favour of more attainable options, this week I’ve invited Amy Burton, a recent graduate, to share the secrets and strategies that helped her to land her first job – just one month after graduating.
[GUEST POST by Amy Burton]
In the three months leading up to July 2012 there were 472,000 job vacancies and 713,000 unemployed 16-24 year olds. I graduated in July 2012 with a BA Hons in Advertising & Marketing Communications from the University of Central Lancashire and bearing in mind the competition, I started my job hunt in November 2011 – nine months before I was due to graduate.
I was eager to get out into the working world but I had already missed a lot of opportunities to get ahead of the competition as many of the graduate schemes had already closed for applications.
However, after nine months of preparation and searching, I landed a full time job as a Marketing Assistant, which started a month after I finished university.
I got my job there by making myself known to the Director of the company.
I attended a local group called “The Preston Social” and took part in discussions via Twitter, enabling me to build a positive reputation, as well as having my own opinions during debates. I worked hard to gain experience and ensured that my passion for the industry was known from the word go.
It is never easy to get a job and even harder to get the job you want, so if you’ve recently graduated or about to graduate and you’re looking for a job, here are my ten top tips for success…
Ten top tips to help you beat the stats and land a job
1) Learn about yourself
Understand your strengths and your weaknesses. You may not be good at presenting in front of a crowd but when asked to work out complex mathematics you are a professional – work it to your advantage! Focus on the positives; you can always develop weaker skills later.
2) You’ve got to be in it to win it
Even though I knew what career goals I had, I applied to positions that would help me gain experience, even if they were not my “dream” job. Doing this means you will be able to practice filling out applications and gain feedback if it doesn’t work out.
3) You can’t tick all the boxes
When looking at a job description I found I was often unable to fulfil all the criteria so this restricted the jobs I was applying for. One day my tutor explained to me that if you could answer all the criteria then you would be their perfect candidate and nobodyis perfect! If you fit the majority of the vital skills they’re asking for in the job, you can work from there.
4) Get help
Always get someone to check your covering letters and tailor each application individually – stand out from the crowd with what you say.
5) Build your profile
Get online – create a Linkedin account and a business email address; get yourself a blog and write about what you are passionate about and the industry you want to go into.
6) Protect your privacy
A very quick lesson to learn is how easy it is to find out information about you so check out your privacy settings on social networks. Remember that most employers will check your name online to see what comes up so if you don’t want them to see certain pictures or messages, check your privacy settings to see who can see what you say.
7) Take the initiative
If there’s a particular company you would like to work for, take the initiative and contact those companies to see if there are non-graduate positions in the pipeline. Getting noticed in a pile of CVs is tough with so many graduates around so you have to really be proactive in your job search.
8) Be prepared to wait
I applied to over 45 marketing jobs whilst I was job hunting – the waiting to hear back was by far the worst part. I got myself into a routine of scheduling my applications and monitoring end dates for applications. If I had not heard from a position within three weeks of the end deadline, I assumed I didn’t get the job and asked for feedback on my application.
9) Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
Show that you care about the job you applied for and find out how you can improve by asking for feedback.
More often than not the feedback will sting but that’s okay – it is fine to feel hurt when you have been rejected by an employer.
Take notes on how to improve; make the most of what your university or college offers by asking tutors and career advisors to review your CV. If you do this, the next application you do will be better.
10) Stay focused
Regardless of how much you hear on the news about how tough it is to get a job, stay focused! If you want to get ahead, do not sit at your desk complaining about it, go out and make yourself known.
Your university is there to help so see if there are workshops you can go to and competitions you can enter, like FLUX 500 which helps graduates get in touch with potential employers as well as win a bit of cash. Grab any opportunity with both hands – it looks great on your CV and helps with your confidence too.
Your turn: What other tips would you recommend for landing a job in this recession? Let me know in the comments…