How to land a graduate job

It is autumn, another academic year has started and for many students out there it will be their final year at university. This means that they will have to find an internship or graduate work and transform gradually into the adult life.  If it happens to be one of you, dear reader, you know that now is the right time to start thinking about what you are going to do after graduation.

There are different phases of the job hunting process that include deciding what you want to do in your professional life, asking yourself if you have the experience to match the requirements of the job you are interested in, the actual application process and the final stage – winning performance at the interview.

Although it might be partly true that getting a job is about being at the right place at the right time, such an extra effort as getting organized about your job hunting approach will serve you well in the years to come. So let’s get started!

The process of finding a placement/a job usually consists of 2 main parts. The first one is to find and apply for the actual vacancy which suits your career interests and your profile; the second one is to perform well during the interview and convince the employer that you are the most suitable candidate for the advertised role.

It seems easy as a concept but in practice a lot of students and recent graduates stumble upon waterstones like deadlines, how to keep up with different job-requirements, what to include into the motivation letter, the most suitable format of CV and etc.

In order not to get lost in the midst of the application process and win the job of your dreams, you should start asking yourself the following questions as early as possible:

  • Do you have a focused strategy for applying for available vacancies and for performing well at the interview?
  • Does your experience suit the desired job profile?
  • Are there jobs out there that you dream of and how realistic are you?

 Your vacancy-finding strategy

Let’s think how you can boost your chances of performing well at each stage of the job hunting process.

  • Do you know what you want to do for a career?

The first phase is the most important one: you need to know or have an idea in which area you would like to start your career (test on deciding with your career profile). This comes from your interests in school subjects, your hobbies, from your family occupations and finally from your university major that you are studying. Work experience during your school years, internships, part-time jobs, talking to your friends and family as well as researching on the internet what other people are doing, will help you to make a decision in which direction you should be going.

  • Do you know what you expect from a job for which you’re applying?

Once this step is done, you can move on to looking at job descriptions in the sphere of your interest. Nowadays a lot of recruiting websites as well as career centers at your educational institution can readily provide information on the responsibilities for each specific job. Also, you can find the job description for your chosen speciality here. This is a very important exercise to do to understand if your existing skills and accomplishments match the requirements of the employer.

Your focused approach to your personal story

At this stage, it is the right time to start the preparation for the development of your personal story that you are going to tell the potential employer. It needs to have integrity and a moment of excitement to make sure the employer gets interested in you and believes in your suitability for the job.

  • Do you know what you have to offer an employer?

The journey of drafting your personal story starts from the moment when you have read and understood the specific requirements for the job you are interested in. It is always a good idea to research ahead what are the key skills that are highly valued on the job market at the moment. This can be found through the research of the particular recruiting websites, reading job advertisements, reading interviews and news feed, researching on LinkedIn the profiles of the people working in the same company or in the similar industry in order to maximize your chances of punching in the bull’s eye.

Employers’ expectations in regards to the skills of their applicants depend on the professional industry. Here is an example of the employer’s expectations:

“It is important that the applicants possess some professional experience and understanding in the industry they are applying for, that they are indeed interested in this new job and aim to continue their professional development in a new position. I expect them to be reading the latest updates in the industry and be willing to implement this new knowledge in practice.

Apart from professional skills, I am looking for the applicants’ drive to help our project succeed with their input. I want to see their burning eyes: it is important for me to understand that they will not give up at the first difficulty, but will be able to pull themselves together and find the solution to the problem. I am looking for people who are focused on the final result rather than on the process itself, who are interested in how to achieve an efficient way of delivering good results.

Of course, a candidate’s personal traits are also very important. Since there is already an established team at work, a new candidate should possess the emotional intellect to join our team. It means that he or she will need to have an open mind, good communication skills, and personal interests in order not to lose their personal identity in a new place.

Generally, I think my expectations are suitable not only for marketing domain but for any other professional industry.

 I’ve had a very interesting experience recently when I received an email from a young woman who wanted to gain experience in a new domain and suggested working for our project for free. She turned out to be a talented worker and after an internship, I have offered her an opportunity to join our team.”

Alex Skorobogataya

Chief Marketing Officer at BooksRun

You can read some other ideas about employers’ expectations here as well.

Once you are done with the research, you can create a list of the top 10 skills that the employers are mostly looking for nowadays in the industry of your interest. By treating each job post separately, you can choose top 5 skills from your list that you think are mostly suited for the application. This means that you adapt your CV and your Cover Letter having this in mind. You need to demonstrate that the experiences you have accomplished in the past couple of years can prove that you possess such skills. This way the employer will be convinced that you understand his needs and you have done your homework for researching the job’s and the company’s profiles. This definitely means that you are looking forward to work.

Do you need to top up your experience?

At some point, there is a moment for most job-hunters, when they discover they lack certain skills/qualifications which would make their profile stand out in the eyes of the employer. Also showing your drafted CV and motivation letter to the person on the side for some extra feedback will help you to see better the way your profile comes up. It is always a good idea to show it to your friends, girlfriend/boyfriend, your mum & dad, your university professors, some people in your circle with the suitable experience whose advice can add value to your profile.

Once you understand the areas for improvement, you should start acting immediately! And the best is to have an action plan of what you need to achieve and the means with which you are going to do it.

So now you have an action plan. If you have no experience to match one of the skills on your shortlist – you have to plan how you are going to get it as soon as possible. Some ideas where to get such experience:

-part-time job;

-voluntary work;

-university society position;

-university team sports.

For instance, if the job profile requires you to demonstrate your leadership skills, you should be able to do it if you occupy the position of the VP of the student society, if you organize or lead the event, if you are the captain of the university sports team, also you can take on some leadership responsibilities at your temporary job. It will demonstrate that you have an active spirit and you are capable of achieving your set goals.

 Keep your options open and yourself broad-minded

If after some time you are still struggling with finding work, you need to make sure you keep your options open. This will raise your chances of getting hired! Try to sign up for job alerts on the websites of the companies you are interested in or job-recruiting agencies and make sure you select the jobs that fall into the different scopes of your interest.

In the next series of our articles we will discuss how to make sure you land the most competitive and sought-for jobs on the market, what are the top skills that the recruiters are looking for, how to boost your networking potential and many more to come. Stay tuned!

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