Why your first grad role is like a first date

by Jul 9, 2021

You wouldn’t go on a date with someone you barely know, so why would you apply for a graduate role with an employer you barely know?

Securing a graduate role is like dating. You have to go on a few dates before you find the right partner, or employer, and commit.

A first date can lead to a lifetime of happiness, or equally missed opportunities. The same logic is also applicable to choosing a graduate role.

These are my top tips for securing a graduate role with a reputable employer within your industry, based on my own experience.

Like any first date, the first step always involves choosing:


1. The right location (workplace)

On average, a person will go on 7 dates before they find the perfect partner. Applying for graduate programs are no different. Students should research and apply for at least 4-7 companies they find interesting or closely align to their values and degree.

Research is key! Look at company reviews on Glassdoor, Seek and Indeed to get a holistic overview of the company and its culture. This will help you to understand if you and the company are compatible and the right fit for each other. Ask friends or connections who work at the company or look at the career progression of current employees on LinkedIn to understand what your career could look like at this company. Most importantly, find out when applications close and the steps involved in the recruitment process.

The more research you complete, the more informed you will be and the better the fit will be.

The next step in any date, always involves:


2. Getting ready for the date (resume and cover letter)

Your resume and cover letter are generally the first time you interact with a recruiter. Like any date, it is important to be ready; update your resume with recent work or volunteer experience as well as key achievements.

Your resume and cover letter should tell a story, promote your personal brand and entice the recruiter to learn more about you. This will help you to secure the elusive invite to the interview.

Similar to choosing matching clothing and shoes for the date so you look your best, make sure you select the same layout and design for both your cover letter and resume. This shows potential employers your high attention to detail.

Employers and HR recruiters prefer consistency and by following this simple step, you can make your submission stand out. Resumes should generally be 1-2 pages long and cover letters should be between a half-full page in length.

UTS Careers offers a number of helpful resources. Start the process off with the Resume & Cover Letter Workbook, then upload your finished product to Rate My Resume for free real-time feedback.

Once you have done your due diligence and updated your resume and cover letter, it’s time to apply.

You might have been lucky enough to find a few dates to go on (a few employers to apply for). To limit the possibility of forgetting important details about the employer, create a document which lists all the companies you have applied for and on what dates. This will help you to be prepared and ready for the call-back and interview.

Excellent planning, researching and preparation often leads to success and the opportunity for a second date, or in a career sense, an interview.

To ensure maximum success:


3. Prepare for engaging conversation (interview)

Like any successful date, it is important to prepare some topics of conversation either to break the ice or to learn more about the other person/employer.

For my graduate role interviews, I completed extensive research on Google and Glassdoor, specifically researching the company and the types of interview questions commonly asked. As part of this process, I compiled a list of all the questions submitted by former graduates because I noticed they all had similar themes. I also prepared answers using the STAR approach.

To make myself feel more confident, I would practise with my family, a friend or in front of my mirror. Luckily for you, things have advanced since then and you can now use the Video Interview Practice Tool and submit your answers for review to UTS Careers staff.

As part of this process, I would also have three questions ready to ask the interviewer about the company culture, career progression and what success in the role looks like at the end of the interview. This shows your interest in the employer and allows you to find out if the company is the right fit for you.

Often you reach a stage in the dating process where it’s time to decide if you want to pursue a relationship with this person, or commit to an employer.

When considering this, it’s important to:


4. Know that a perfect match doesn’t require perfect compatibility

It’s important to understand that the perfect job with 100% compatibility doesn’t exist. If you find a job that aligns as closely as possible to your values, that you find interesting and helps you to achieve your career goals within the next 1-2 years then this might be the role for you.

I found it helpful to write a list of pros and cons before deciding to choose my graduate role. I also consulted my friends and family before making my decision, knowing they would also be on this journey with me too.

However, it’s important to note that at the end of the day, it is your decision and you need to feel comfortable with taking the next steps.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Monique D'Souza

Monique D'Souza

Marketing Officer

Monique D’Souza is Sydney-based marketing consultant, currently working at UTS Careers. Her passion lies in brand management and she takes a strategic, data-driven and creative approach to marketing.

Having studied a law degree at UTS and worked for a number of years in FMCG, Monique likes to find creative solutions to complex challenges and work collaboratively with others to deliver innovative solutions to the tertiary education space.