If you’ve just finished University and you’re not part of the minority who have a job upon leaving, DO NOT PANIC! You will probably be ridden with dread and anxiety at this current time, and seeing other people walk in to a job will naturally unsettle you because that might mean you’re not as ‘good’ as them.
People who have a job lined up for them when they leave University generally have one of three things:
A proactive attitude to internships, volunteering and work experience that sunk in a lot earlier than it did yours.
A clear, definitive career path that – once again – they were fortunate enough to have develop earlier on in their lives, enabling them to chase opportunities.
Should this make you feel bad, that perhaps you weren’t as proactive as these people? Hell no. University, albeit fun and life-changing, is also stressful and perplexing. People learn at different rates; some people plan ahead way in advance, and others do not. But everyone at University is united in the fact that the real world is huge and intimidating. The most likely thing to happen next is you’ll move back in with parents, or perhaps with a relative or good friend. Although you are aware that you require a job, these people will remind you in a constructive way.
So – what now? Let me provide you with 10 quick tips and pieces of advice for looking for a job.
Sort your C.V out! The first thing that an employer will see is your C.V. It represents you as a person and a potential employee, and it is designed to sell yourself succinctly until you have the chance to shine in an interview. An employer won’t take you seriously if it’s outdated, badly laid out or includes an email address like: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ – you need to give yourself a professional make-over. Short, succinct points about yourself as a person, your experiences, your qualifications, and where you’re aiming to go as a worker. Take a look at this site for some examples on how to write a smashing C.V
Clean up your social media. You may think that an employer won’t bother checking you out online, but I can assure you from personal experience that they will. Update the privacy settings on your Facebook account, protect your tweets on Twitter, and please: create a LinkedIn profile. This is the social media network for professionals, and when an employer is sitting through a stack of 30 applications, they’re likely to type in your name to LinkedIn to see what you’ve got going on there. Once again, keep it slick, professional, and succinct. Straight to the point, you mean business!
Don’t copy and paste the same cover letter. Okay, so for one application you wrote an amazing cover letter that you’re convinced will get you an interview. As great as it might have been, you cannot use it for a different application. It may be an entirely different role. By all means, use it as template and adjust your paragraphs accordingly, but pay attention! You may forget to amend the sentence that name-drops another employer. If that were to happen, it will not only be embarrassing for the employer, but it will probably play a large part in their decision to give you an interview.
Don’t be intimidated by responsibilities. One of the biggest mistakes I would make when I started searching for a job. I would look for jobs in Birmingham, and go through pages and pages thinking ‘that’s far too advanced for me’, and I’d only end up with 5 or 6 jobs to apply for. In reality, I was underestimating my abilities to do those jobs because the large amounts of responsibility intimidated me, or the technical words I did not understand put me off. Think of it this way: if you apply for a job and think, ‘there’s no way I’ll get this’, you’re not really losing out on much. If you write the best application you can, tailor your skills and experience to the skills the employer are looking for, you will be more likely to be considered and get an interview. If you do get an interview, that’s more interview experience for you. If you don’t, you’ve got more experience of writing applications. Plus, in some instances, you may even get a job you never thought you would! I did the exact same, and 6 months later, I cannot believe I doubted myself.
Tailor your cover letter to the job. Don’t just write the same old stuff about your role as president of a society at Uni. Make it relevant. If the job is sales related, talk specifically about your people skills, your ability to set goals and deadlines. One easy way to do this is to load up the job specification and work your way down, listing how you fit the criteria with a few sentences each. From there, you can edit to make it read better.
Register your C.V on job boards. Registering your C.V on sites like Reed, Indeed and CV-Library will benefit you in the long run. Recruitment consultants often search for potential employees through these websites and will contact you about any positions they need filling. I found myself in a really interesting temp role by simply registering my C.V on Reed and getting a phone call a few weeks later.
Join a reputable recruitment agency. There are professionals out there who are paid to find people like yourselves work. For employers who need assistance finding candidates, or simply don’t have the time and resources to search themselves, they will hire a recruitment agency to bring them the best candidates. Do your research on local recruitment agencies and find one that you really like the look of. You can then email or call to request an appointment, and after registering your C.V and chatting with an advisor, they will let you know of any vacancies that they feel would be suitable for you.
If you get an interview, be yourself. This one I cannot stress enough. When I got to Birmingham in September 2015, I went to over 100 interviews. From the feedback I got from them, I was told to relax more. I would be going in to the interview with thoughts racing through my head telling me to be professional, tell them what they want to hear. Whilst stressing about all of that, it must have been clear that I was, perhaps, trying too hard. With my last few interviews, I relaxed more and took on a more conversational style. That doesn’t mean I fist-pumped the interviewer and said ‘bruv’ at the end of every sentence. I began to see the interviewer as human, instead. So whilst I was – in some ways – selling myself, I was also being friendly and engaging; I wasn’t being robotic. I was being myself and, ultimately, someone who the interviewer would want to work with. Aside from that, retain your manners and offer a firm handshake before and after the interview, and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Temp work isn’t all bad. I remember lots of recruitment agencies offering me temp jobs, and I felt like that would be a cop-out, like I hadn’t really achieved the goal of a full time job. Ultimately, you need to get out of the house and engage in the work life, and make some money. I had two temp jobs before I got my first full time job, and they taught me a lot about myself and others in the work environment. I also got to add them to my C.V and bring them up in interviews I was having at the time. The way to view it is: temp work gets you by whilst you’re looking for a full time position. It brings you money, more work experience, more depth to your applications and it gets you out of the house. There’s nothing worse than hiding from the outside world during the weeks you may be unemployed.
Don’t lose hope: someone will see your potential. The process of getting a job after University is tough, because a lot of the times, employers want a shed load of experience that you may not have. Getting your foot in the door is a pivotal moment in your career, which is why I think it is the hardest step. It took me 3 months and doing 2 temp jobs I didn’t enjoy that much to get a full time job. I submitted over 250 applications and attended over 100 interviews. I lost all hope, because I felt like was a burden to the people I was staying with, and I felt like I’d let myself and my family down. I didn’t remind myself enough that the process is meant to be challenging. It may have taken a friend two weeks to get a job, and it may take you several months to get a job, but you will get there in the end, if you try. Persistence is key. If you don’t lose hope and keep on fighting for your entry point, an employer will see something special in you. They did for me, and I am so grateful for the doors it has opened. So rest assured – keep persisting, and someone will see your potential. I promise you that.