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Graduate checklist: What to look out for in your job search

24 Sep 2020

Setting out on your first graduate job search? Already in a fog of CVs and applications? Hays’ Roop Bhumbra advises on the key things to look out for in potential employers.

Click here to view the Graduates Month series.

You’ve probably already been told that it’s a tough time to be embarking on a graduate job search and if you’re already looking, chances are you’ll have experienced this by now. If you’ve had several months of job hunting since graduating and not yet landed yourself a role, you might want some direction about how to go about your search.

Here’s a checklist of what you should be looking for in the search for your first graduate job.

Stimulation and challenge

Your first job is crucial in shaping your perception of the world of work and the more stimulation and challenge you have within that, the more engaged and motivated you’ll feel about your career. Coming from university or college means you’ll quickly pick up new skills and information, so take advantage of that by looking for a role where you are kept on your toes.

Organisational purpose

If you have had to face numerous rejections in your job hunt so far, you might be more willing to settle for any role just to secure employment. Realistically, it’s unlikely that your first job will be exactly what you pictured or hoped for. But that doesn’t mean that you have to abandon the prospect of connecting to the purpose of an organisation.

Have a look at the values, objectives and mission statements of different companies and find ones that align to your own moral compass. Being more passionate about the organisation you’re applying to will come across to employers.

An appealing workplace culture

It might sound simple, but it will be impossible to fully enjoy a new role if you don’t enjoy working at that organisation. Have a think about what you want from a workplace culture – it could be flexible hours, regular social events, good amenities and so on – and factor that into your search. If you don’t get a good sense of workplace culture when you’re applying, it’s a good thing to ask about in an interview.

Click here to visit the Hays Viewpoint blog.

Progression opportunities

Even if you just see your first job as a stepping stone to a role that requires more experience, it’s important that you look for organisations where you can see the potential for progression. Having sight of your next steps can be hugely motivating. Think about the potential to move sideways into different teams as well as just upwards, as this is also a great opportunity to progress and widen your skillset.

A commitment to diversity

Regardless of your background or where you are in your career, everyone should be part of an organisation where they can bring their whole selves to work confidently. As a graduate, you’ll naturally be less entrenched in established ways of thinking and doing things, so working for an organisation that fosters diversity of opinion will be hugely beneficial for your personal and professional growth.

Try to focus on your own graduate job search

My final recommendation – one to look out for in yourself, rather than a potential job – is not to compare your search to other people’s. From what you see on social media and hear from your friends, it might feel like everyone else is getting jobs. What you need to remember, though, is that varying industries, professions and circumstances make for very different job searches. So don’t be disheartened if your experience isn’t the same as other people’s.

We all have different expectations of the world of work and of our careers, meaning you may have more or different priorities in your job hunt. After all, everyone has different requirements and circumstances, particularly in our new world of work as organisations continue to handle the impacts of the pandemic.

However, if you haven’t had much success in your job hunt so far or if you just need some guidance, have a think about the points above. You never know, it might illuminate new opportunities or open your mind to different career paths that you hadn’t considered before.

By Roop Bhumbra

Roop Bhumbra is head of talent development at Hays UK and Ireland.

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