Let’s be honest, the job market isn’t looking too good right now for graduates if the official figures are anything to go by. 1 in 5 graduates are still jobless six months after graduation; the same ratio are making do with part time jobs, while the overall number in voluntary or unpaid roles have also risen.
For those who do find work, it’s usually after elbowing off serious competition, with an average of 73 applicants going for every graduate role and wannabe investment bankers and retailers competing with an even more eye-watering average of 142 and 154 applicants respectively.
The good news is there are things you can do to better your employment chances as a graduate. In fact, according to my guest blogger today, Vince Pizzoni (graduate mentor and coach and Executive Search Consultant at energy recruitment firm, Preng and Associates), it is very possible to land your dream job within six months of graduation – just by following these simple practical steps!
[GUEST POST by Vince Pizzoni]
Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) are the words that make up the Olympic motto, and if you want to get a graduate job in the current market you would be forgiven for thinking that equally Herculean effort is going to be needed!
While I know it is tough out there, I am equally convinced that with proper preparation, persistence and a positive approach, you will increase your chances of finding a suitable job. Based on practical experience working with a wide range of students, I suggest as a graduate you should work on a ten-point plan as summarised below:
1) Get the best degree classification you can
Many companies are drawing the line at a 2:1 and above but remember that about 60% of jobs do not need a specific degree subject.
2) Do as much relevant work experience as possible
Any work experience is learning and may be your first insight into the employability skills that the work place desperately needs.
Find jobs at your university and consider all opportunities such as volunteering, charity work and internships.
3) Don’t forget non academic/extra-curricular interests can be important
Employers want to see people who are well rounded with the skills and interests that extend beyond the classroom.
4) Get your CV started early and keep it “humming”
While online job application is increasing, a well written/concise CV is a must. Stick to one page and make sure you include relevant contact details, academic results, work experience and hobbies and interests. Update it regularly and remember that your CV is there to get you an interview, so look after it!
5) Don’t forget the cover letter
Many job applications will need you to write a brief letter describing how you might be a good fit for the role advertised. The letter must be no longer than a page, summarising how you have the skills and academic background that closely match the company’s requirements.
6) Make full use of the Careers Centre at your university
They will have people there experienced in the job application process and will give you practical guidance and support such as for psychometric testing and assessment centre workshops.
Interview preparation will also be very important focusing on body language, eye contact and voice tone. They will also work with you to help better define potential career directions.
7) Finding a job is like a military campaign so plan accordingly
You need to do your research on organisations of interest, and fully understand their application process and timescales. Develop a spreadsheet or similar to show companies and sectors, application process, key timelines and progress. Work several parallel routes to finding a job – i.e. advertised jobs, recruitment agencies, non-advertised jobs and direct application.
Most people apply to the advertised (and often blue chip graduate management) jobs which represent 25% of what is out there and will inevitably have many applicants/place so don’t forget the smaller organisations (known as SMEs) where your chances may be higher.
Hook yourself up with a few recruitment agencies that specifically focus on graduate jobs and preferably in your sector. Write directly to organisations that you may be interested in; you’ll be surprised at how positive a response you may get.
You may think this is not for you but take it from me, it’s critical! It is all about what you can do for someone else, not what they can do for you. Get yourself some business cards, attend appropriate conferences, and look for opportunities to help people, listen and learn.
“As you move through your career you will find that your network will become increasingly important in unearthing new opportunities that you had never thought about. If you get good advice and support from someone then remember to thank them.”
9) Sell yourself on social media and mind your manners
Get yourself on a professional site such as LinkedIn and make sure you have a profile, join appropriate groups, make sensible contributions and get connections.
Employers are increasingly advertising roles on LinkedIn, and recruitment agencies and search companies use it regularly. Think about what image/brand you want out there. Remember that future employers will Google your name so don’t say or do anything that would embarrass you.
10) Find a career coach or mentor
A career is not a straight line but a series of zigzags and often you will need the guiding hand of someone experienced in navigating the tricky waters ahead. Finding a career coach/mentor is an important step in the process of self-discovery and direction.
To sum up remember the 3Ps (preparation, persistence and positive) or should I say Paratus, Diligentia, Optimus!
About the author: Vince Pizzoni has 30 years of business experience gained operating in international markets with companies including P&G, Exxon, GDF Suez and Nalco. He was Head of Professional Guidance at The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, and is now an Executive Search Consultant with Preng and Associates, a top-level recruitment firm for the energy industry. In his spare time he offers career mentoring and coaching support to graduates. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.
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