Annually, millions of students leave academic institutions, all with one question on their minds. How to secure a job after graduation?
After you graduate, the hunt for a job starts and along with it comes graduate job anxiety. The moment you step into the job market, you begin to feel as though you’re just another job seeker out of millions. It’s a common feeling experienced by most graduates when starting out in their career. The main thing is to ensure that you’re heading in the right direction with resilience and consistency.
There’s no doubt that you’ll face rejection, and people might put you off with their horror stories about the jobs market. Whether it be that they’re qualified but inexperienced for their dream job, so cannot get a foot in. Or how long they’ve been looking and are yet to find something. But don’t let this put you off, don’t worry about not landing the perfect job right out of the gate.
If you’re finding it hard to secure a job after graduation due to lack of experience, it’s time to get smart in the way you approach things. Stop sending out the same stale resume and cover letter to every other job in hopes of getting a response. You’ve got to invest a little time in each application, to ensure the version of yourself you’re presenting, is the most appropriate version for the role you’re applying to.
Reality check. Unless you’re blessed with absolute luck, it’s unlikely you’ll land the perfect job immediately. Whilst it’s not impossible, for most graduates it rarely happens that way. Not to put off your attempts, however the first and important step when entering the jobs market is to manage your own expectations. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make every effort to land that fantastic job when you see it advertised. It just means you’ve to keep in mind that there are many fresh grads just like you who are looking for their first step into an amazing job and career path. Your first taste of corporate competition in the market.
Expect for the job search to be long, draining and for you to question whether paying all of that money for your degree was worth it. This is natural, and by maintaining a consistent and persistent approach to your job search, it should eventually pay off.
Whether you’re a fresh graduate, or an experienced professional, the job market can be brutal, so consider the journey to securing the job of your dreams a character building opportunity. Through this process, you’ll develop in areas beyond just how quickly you can apply for 10 jobs. You’ll truly understand how tenacity plays an important part in your success.
In search of your dream job, simply having a degree is not enough most of the time. Imagine yourself as a hiring manager, sitting in the HR department of your favourite company. As the hiring manager you’re looking for a Marketing Manager to join your team. You receive 250 applications to this vacancy, and you require someone to help you market an existing product that’s been falling in sales. Who would you choose? Likely not the candidate with the least experience in the marketing.
So, once you’ve received your degree and are on the job hunt, don’t become frustrated if you face a number of rejections. Most of the time the minimum job requirement is 5+ years of experience and then, the common question comes to your mind, “How can I get experience, If nobody will hire me to give me the experience?”.
One thing for sure is that it’s going to be more difficult securing a paid job within your field of choice without any experience at all. But don’t sweat it as there are a lot of other ways to get experience before getting your preferred role. Many jobs hold transferable skills which allow you to step into more appropriate positions as time goes on.
Do An Internship
Do what you gotta do. It might feel discouraging and frustrating to work and not be paid much, or at all, don’t be hard on yourself. Many professionals starting out go through a phase in their career where the job and pay are nowhere near what they want. If you’re getting hands-on experience and can use it as a reference for (better) paid jobs, you’re heading in the right direction.
Internships are viewed positively by most organisations as it demonstrates your ability and willingness to get hands-on work experience. Unpaid internships aren’t ideal, however if you find this to be the only available option, and you can afford to take the opportunity, take it. A month of hands-on experience may differentiate you from the competition when the time comes.
Work On Side Projects
If you’re unsuccessful in securing an internship, what should be your next move? Certainly not to just continue pumping out CV’s with no other action. Don’t just sit and wait for an opportunity to fall in your lap. There are a lot of other ways from which you can gain ample experience.
First of all, you can do freelance work. There are a lot of platforms which allow you to quickly sign-up and start offering services related to your specific field. Upwork is one such service which allows freelancers to offer services in a multitude of disciplines. From data-entry, customer service, to market research, upwork offers a wide variety of avenues to sell your time and expertise for income.
Secondly, if you’re not getting much success on freelance platforms, look for relatives or acquaintances who have their own business and try to convince them to give you a project that you can work on, to add value to your CV.
There may be times that you’ll have to do these projects for little to no money. It can be challenging to convince a business owner or a client to give you an opportunity with such little experience. But be confident in your skill and always with an “I can do it” attitude. All you need is one person to say yes in order to go from nothing to something.
Polish Your Digital Skills
In the world today almost every other job requires some level of digital awareness. Most include having a basic level of digital competency to to perform daily tasks. These skills can might be report writing, document creation, emails, sharepoint, digital signatures, MS Office, Google docs, Social Media handling and various other programs and tools.
You don’t need to be an expert in all of these but having basic knowledge about one or two is a necessity. Especially having just graduated, you’ll be expected by your prospective employer to be competent across the digital space. It will also help you in the long term as you’ll quite likely be using these programs on a daily basis in the future. So if you’re not tech-savvy right now, it’s something to consider.
This may appear obvious, but updating your CV and tailoring it specifically to each job you’re applying for, does give you better odds in being called back from your application. If you’re able to afford it, hiring an expert to craft a your CV is a good investment. This isn’t required for each role, however once you have the framework from the edited version, you can amend it slightly for each role you apply to.
Always add a brief summary paragraph at the top of your CV when applying for a job. This will give the interviewers a little insight into who you are, your personality and a few talking points that can be used to break the ice during an interview.
Have you prepared for interview questions? If not, then get to it ASAP! Don’t let unpreparedness ruin your chances once you’ve made it through the door for an interview, especially when you don’t have any previous experience to rely upon.
You’ll have to be engaging, pleasant and most of all, a good listener to the point where you’re able to ask genuine and relevant questions about the role and organisation. Don’t hesitate to add a little humour where you can, it’s a good way to break the ice. Be sure not to spend too much time cracking jokes however, unless the opportunity is for a stand-up comedian.
If you’re not great at interviews and feel this will definitely be an area of concern, we can help you prepare with one of our Interview Coaching sessions. These help you prepare for your next job interview and teach you a number of basic principles to approach any interview process. Our team of expert coaches assess where you might be lacking, and help you land your dream job.
Don’t neglect the power of social media when job searching. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn , Twitter, Facebook are excellent platforms to make connections that will help you find suitable job opportunities. LinkedIn is the largest professional networking website, and the most popular resource among recruiters to find talent. If you decide to invest your efforts into one platform, LinkedIn is where you should go.
To get the most out of LinkedIn, fill out your profile completely with all the skills, degrees any certificates you hold.
Join the groups of your interest, engage with other job seekers and recruiters, share your knowledge about your field, help others with their problems, be visible and stand out from others. It won’t take long for recruiters to acknowledge your skills and consider you for suitable opportunities.
It would be unwise to ignore the potential of offline job searches. In the world of digitalization, it’s true that most organisations post jobs on their websites and various online platforms. But you may be surprised by the opportunities that come your way whilst searching offline.
What you see on LinkedIn and other platforms is just a fraction of the jobs available out there. There are a lot of companies that just hire new employees through referrals or word of mouth. Be sure to keep your eyes open to opportunities to discuss what you’re looking for amongst people you know, who may know someone working within the organisation.
The idea of networking is that you research the companies you’re interested in and then find a networking path that’ll lead you to your desired job.
Are you wondering how that works? Well, start with finding a person whom you already know works in an industry that interests you. And if you’re fortunate enough, your personal contacts can lead you to a job opportunity.
If that’s not the case, you can reach out to people on LinkedIn and ask for advice, or direction on how best to secure an opportunity in your field of choice. Most professionals are usually quite happy to offer advice to graduates starting out in their careers.
Sending that first message on LinkedIn might feel daunting, however by being polite, professional and respectful, you can usually expect a positive response. Start your message with something like:
“Dear Hannah, sorry to bother you, however I’ve recently graduated and currently finding the job search quite difficult, I was wondering if you’d be willing to give me some guidance on the best way to gain experience, so that I’d be suitable for an opportunity within your organisation”.
Landing your first job is never easy, this is something that’ll never change. However your approach to job searching will impact how quickly you arrive into your chosen career path. If you’ve tried the traditional way in applying for jobs and have had little to no success, think out of the box, figure out what’s going wrong and try something new.
Continue to learning new skills related to your occupation and become a master of them. Grab any opportunity that comes your way and put your 100% effort into it. Do not think any less of yourself or become defeated, even if you face rejection or a failure time and time again. Use it as motivation to become better.
Nobody can tell you for sure, just how long it may take to land that dream job, however what is guaranteed is that if you stop trying, it’ll never happen.
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