The secrets to landing a graduate job
Uni can be hard, but graduating might be even harder.
You’ve studied for three or more years, got your last assignments in, and said goodbye to your tutors. Success! But now you’ve got to enter the real world. Even worse – the world of work 😱
And that’s where graduate roles come in. It can be a daunting process thinking about graduate jobs because they’re often the first stepping stone to your future career. That might sound like a lot of pressure, but luckily for you we’ve got a few secrets to landing a role after graduating and kick-starting your career.
Take time to reflect and plan
Before you go diving into frantic searches on CareerHub, Seek or Indeed, make sure you spend a bit of time reflecting on your career and uni experience so far. From here you can decide where you’d like to see yourself next.
This reflection could involve thinking about specific roles or industries you’d like to pursue. It could also be helpful to take a moment and reflect on where you are right now. A couple of prompts to consider are:
- What subjects or assignments did I enjoy most in uni?
- What are my passions and hobbies?
- What motivates me every day?
After reflecting on these questions, you still might not know exactly where you’d like to be. And that’s ok! As long as you’re thinking about what you enjoy and would be motivated to do, you’re off to a great start.
Get your network on your side
Reaching out to your personal and professional network is a great way to find out more about an industry or specific role.
Start easy with family and friends. They’ll be able to give you insight on how they landed their first graduate position, what they like and dislike about their role, and the career opportunities out there. If you’re interested in a similar job or industry, this is a helpful way to find out if you really are suited.
Next, be bold and start talking to your professional network! Ask your tutors from your favourite uni subjects for advice. Send some LinkedIn messages to professionals you admire. Join the Professional Networking Platform and get access to tonnes of industry leaders.
Networking doesn’t have to be an enormous task! Sometimes it’s as easy as sending a polite message or taking a friend out for coffee. Then sit back and soak up the wisdom to find out if a grad role is right for you.
Quality over quantity
After finishing uni and are looking for their first grad role, lots of students can get stuck in the trap of applying to too many jobs all at once. This can quickly become overwhelming and stressful. The applications start piling up, you’re unable to spend enough time on each one, and if you just apply for everything, you may end up getting an interview for a job you’re not even interested in.
Instead of jumping in head first, dip your toe in! Be strategic with your job search, and only apply for those you have a real interest in or relevant experience.
This means you’ll have more time to put effort into the jobs you can actually see yourself at. You can prepare applications of a higher quality, and therefore have a better chance at success!
Plus, avoiding burnout is always priority numero uno. And when you’re applying for ten times the amount of jobs that you actually want, burnout is a pretty likely consequence.
If you take one thing out of this blog it should be this: always personalise your resume and cover letter to the specific job you’re applying for.
Read that again!
Your resume and cover letter is often the only thing your potential employer sees before actually meeting you, so it pays to make a good first impression.
Many recruiters now use screening software to comb through applicants’ CVs before they land on anyone’s desk. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take some of the terms used in the job description and include them in your resume and cover letter. This will show computers and hirers alike that you’ve done your research and have the relevant skills for the role.
You should also remove any prior experience that isn’t relevant to the prospective job. You don’t have to kill all your darlings – after all, there are plenty of soft skills you can learn from roles in customer service or volunteering, for example, that are essential. Just maybe don’t include the graphic design you did for your cousin if you’re applying for an engineering job.
A couple more ways to show employers that you’ve tailored your resume and cover letter for their role:
- Include a personal statement at the top of your CV. This can be just a sentence or two that shows who you are and why you want to apply to this specific grad role.
- Research the company website and social media. From here, you’ll be able to see what kind of company culture the company has, and gain a sense of their tone of voice and style.
Chances are you’re going to be applying to more than just a few places. Between customising your CV and cover letters, knowing what important dates are coming up, going to interviews… there’s a lot to consider!
A good way to avoid getting overwhelmed, keep track of the jobs you’ve applied for. This can be in a spreadsheet, document, or even in a journal.
Be sure to include details like: the company or hirer’s contact information, the date you applied for the role, whether you’ve heard back, and any actions you should be taking. This simple organisational system will keep you on top of everything, and ensure you remember those important little things, like sending a thank you note after your interview.
Landing a graduate position isn’t always the monumental task you might think it is! By implementing all or some of the tools and advice here, you could land your dream job.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.