02 January 2013 09:49 AM

New Year, New Job-Hunting Strategy? Tapping into the Hidden Graduate Job Market

Graduate schemes only make up about 20% of grad job destinations each year - so while it might feel like the world and their dog is heading off on an all-singing, all-dancing graduate programme, it's really not the case. It's estimated that around 70-80% of all job vacancies never get advertised - so you need to get proactive! Here'a few handy hints for making sure you're in with the best chance of success with speculative applications:

> Networking is key. Building contacts in the industry you want to go into is always a good idea - click here to find out how to start your own graduate recruitment network.
 
> Research the industry. To make a good targeted speculative application, you'll need to really stand out as someone who wants to work in that field. Recruiters can spot a generic CV a mile off, so take the time to tailor your application to each company.

> Try and find a contact to address your covering letter to - 'Dear Sir/Madam' just doesn't cut it! If necessary, phone up and ask. LinkedIn can also be useful for stalking key decision makers finding out names and roles.

> Be creative - if a company isn't hiring right now, offer to do some freelance work for them or even a free trial (if you can afford to). This is a pretty standard way of getting into certain creative industries, and it'll help your name stick for when a position does come up.

> Make sure your CV is top-notch
- click here for more info on writing the perfect graduate CV.

> Don't give up! Whether you're applying for huge graduate schemes or sending your portfolio off to tiny creative agencies, you're bound to get the odd knock-back. It happens to the best of us, so pick yourself up and try somewhere else - and don't take it personally! Find out more about motivation here.

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10 September 2012 09:48 AM

Top Tips For Developing The Skills You Need For A Graduate Job

  • Network, network, network! Family, friends, contacts you meet by chance – it all counts!

  • Go to university careers fairs and employer presentations – not only can you pick up lots of helpful info on the industries you’re keen on, you will also have the chance to make a lasting impression with recruiters.


A final tip - believe in your own abilities and focus on presenting yourself as confident...but not arrogant. No one wants to spend all day working with someone who's full of themselves!

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20 August 2012 04:12 PM

The Perfect Graduate CV: Dos and Don'ts

So, you’ve decided that the whole corporate-grad-scheme-application-form route isn’t for you. You’ve found a couple of entry-level jobs that sound just perfect. They all ask for a CV. You don’t have one. Now what do you do?

Essentially, a CV is a list of your work and educational achievements to date. Note that it’s not a list of ALL your achievements – your future employer doesn’t want to hear about your SATs results or your grade two cello certificate – instead it should be detailed, professional and focussed. Here's a quick rundown of what each section should (and shouldn't) contain:

Contact details
Do:

  • Put your name, address, phone number and email address. And make sure they're all correct. How else will they get in touch to offer you an interview!?

Don’t:

  • Include irrelevant personal information, like your age, religion, marital status, or a photo of yourself, when applying for a UK-based role. This is standard practise in some countries but is considered unprofessional in the UK, and could open the employer up to charges of discrimination based on age, looks, race, etc – so it’s best avoided.

  • Fire off emails from any address containing any the following: random MySpace-style capitalisation (how old ARE you?), the words ‘sexy’, ‘babe’ or ‘hot’, cutesy nicknames, or references to your fondness for all-night benders. If you have any doubts about the professional appropriateness of your email address, it’s not appropriate. Set up an account with a sensible address – you can’t go wrong with something along the lines of firstname.lastname@emailprovider.com.


Personal statement
Do:

  • Keep it short – remember the abstract you had to write for your dissertation? This is the equivalent, so proportionally it should be two or three lines, max.

Don't:

  • Feel like you have to include one for the sake of it. Having said that, it’s quite a good way to summarise your CV for the recruiter – and anything that makes their life easier after reading 100+ CVs is bound to count in your favour. 


Work experience
Do:

  • Start with the most recent job and work backwards, making sure that you list any useful skills or responsibilities.
  • Get the balance right between inserting buzzwords that the recruiter will pick up on when they scan through the CV, and resorting to clichés. Positive, action-filled words like ‘organised’, ‘managed’, ‘coordinated’ and ‘responsibility’ are all great – generic sentences like ‘I have great customer service skills’ are less useful and fill up valuable space. A sentence like this is only acceptable if followed by ‘…because I did x and y while working in job z.’

Don't:

  • List every job you've ever had from babysitting to bar work. If, for example, you've had a succession of bar jobs plus one or two internships, it’s worth listing those first in more detail, then summarising the less relevant bar work in one or two lines – unless, of course, you’re applying to work in a bar!


Education
Do:

  • List your educational achievements reverse chronological order, starting with your degree and working backwards.
  • List your A-Levels in full.
  • Consider putting 'Education' at the beginning of your CV you’re a recent graduate with no work experience but who boasts a shiny new 1st from a top university.

Don't:

  • List all your GCSEs if you're pressed for space. It's fine to put something like ‘9 GCSEs at grades A*-B, including English and Maths’ – this shows employers what they need to know without boring them with the finer details of your GCSE French coursework.

Relevant skills
Do:

  • Include things like unusual software packages you can use, organizations or societies you belong to, positions of responsibility you've had - anything that adds to the impression that you're a nice, well-rounded, professional person who'd be great to work with!

Don't:

  • List mundane things that 99% of people do in their spare time like 'Going to the pub' or try to be funny - the only exception to this is if you are applying for a very select group of industries i.e. certain branches of media and advertising. Tread very carefully here - and if in doubt, keep it friendly but professional.

Final thoughts
Most people put off writing a CV until faced with a job application deadline, but it’s worth keeping a generic version of your CV up to date at all times, which you can then tailor to suit each job you apply for. Warning for the unwary and/or lazy: when we say tailor, we mean just that – NOT rewrite two sentences, stick in the name of the company and press send!

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