Graduates searching for jobs
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6 job search tips graduates don’t usually hear

20 Sep 2017

For graduates, finding their first role can feel like a searching for a needle in a haystack. Luckily, Hays’ Robby Vanuxem is here to help you find the perfect job.

As a recent graduate looking for your first role, you’re probably following all the standard graduate job-hunting advice. You’re updating that all-important CV, meeting with a specialist recruiter, finessing your online professional profiles and searching job sites for roles that might be right for you.

However, there are some pearls of wisdom you may not have heard of before, which could be the key to helping you find your first graduate job – a job that will be a catapult for your future career.

Don’t pigeonhole your job search

At the moment, you may be doing what many other graduates do in your position: focusing your job search on roles that clearly reflect your degree course or previous work experience because you think these are most relevant to you and your skills.

The truth is, you don’t need to be pigeonholed by your degree. For instance, just because you have a degree in psychology, that doesn’t mean you should only apply for psychology jobs.

You could instead consider roles where elements of this degree could be useful, for instance, human resources or teaching. In actual fact, you most likely have a wider range of hidden skills, which deem you suitable for roles you hadn’t considered before.

So, think about positive feedback you were given at school, university, in part-time jobs and even by your friends. Take online aptitude tests to help reveal your best qualities. Write down what you believe your key strengths to be, add these to your CV and use these as key words when you search on job sites, as well as when you speak to your recruiter.

My point here is that you shouldn’t silo your job search. You are suited to more roles than you think – you just need to discover what these are.

Don’t discount temp roles

Temp work is becoming ‘the new normal’, with the number of temporary workers being hired thought to increase to 40pc by 2020. The benefits of temp work to graduates are many.

  • You can add valuable experience to your CV: Thanks to the short-term nature of temp roles, you will have clear objectives, which will need to be met over a short period of time. Meet these objectives, and you have some quick wins to add to your CV while developing your own skill set.
  • You find out what you enjoy doing: By temping, you can get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing, steering you closer towards what you want from a permanent role.
  • You are able to expand your network: If you make the most of your temp assignment, you can build your professional network, forming long-lasting, valuable connections.
  • You build your confidence: A temporary assignment will get you out of your comfort zone, and each success will lift your confidence.

In short, don’t consider only permanent roles. Open your mind to temp work, as this can really kick-start a graduate’s career.

Temp roles can help equip you for the world of work, providing you with some valuable experience, skills and connections, all of which will set you apart from the competition.

Don’t just focus your job search on big brands

Big brand names can look great on a CV, and many will offer brilliant entry-level graduate positions. Don’t, however, dismiss smaller, lesser-known companies when searching for a job.

Companies that are smaller in size are often less bureaucratic. You will therefore have more autonomy than you would have in larger organisations, with a greater possibility of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and finding stretch opportunities within your role.

By starting your career in a smaller business, you will also have more accessibility to senior management, giving you the opportunity to build some key relationships, which may work in your favour later down the line.

In short, working for a smaller business can really give your career the boost it needs during its infancy.

The job search isn’t just about updating your CV and looking online

Of course, as a graduate jobseeker, you will be spending a large portion of your day looking and applying for jobs, but there are also other things you should be doing to help you find the right graduate job, and fast.

  • Upskill yourself: As a recent graduate who has spent several years in academia, your CV may be lacking in professional expertise. As much as many hiring managers will understand this, there’s no harm in giving yourself a competitive edge by taking the initiative to increase your skill set. Apply for internships, volunteer at charities, take some online courses or start your own blog. Whatever you choose to take on, make sure you are constantly finding ways to add value to your CV.
  • Expand your network: Meeting with a recruiter is a great way to build your professional network. However, you should also use your online professional profiles to reach out to others, from getting involved in industry discussions, to sharing news and blogs with your network. You should also attend relevant networking events and seminars to get some more face-to-face interaction with potential connections. If you can, get hold of the attendee list ahead of the event and ask the host to make introductions.
  • Get interview readyAgain, having spent several years in academia, you may be slightly unfamiliar – or, at the very least, rusty – when it comes to job interviews. Hopefully it won’t be long until you get a phone call inviting you in for an interview, so use this in-between period to brush up on the latest interview techniques, from answering competency-based questions, to tackling those trickier ones. Practise answering interview questions with friends, family or your recruiter, so that you feel poised and confident when the time comes.

Maintain a job search routine and stay motivated

Periods of unemployment can take their toll on anybody’s wellbeing, especially a recent graduate going through the transition of student to jobseeker, working hard to find their first graduate job.

It is therefore important that you maintain a routine so you stay upbeat and motivated. Get up early and fill your days with productive activities such as job-searching, upskilling and networking.

Having said that, make sure you take regular breaks to do what you enjoy doing, from seeing friends, to pursuing hobbies and interests. Exercise is also a great way of relieving the stress of finding your first graduate job, and something I highly recommend.

Don’t compare yourself to your friends

Lastly, don’t compare yourself to your peers, especially if they have already found work. I still remember that fear of not finding a job after graduation and getting left behind. I wish I had realised how many other people felt exactly the same.

Just have faith that you are doing the best you can – you simply haven’t found the right opportunity for you yet, but that’s no need to give up or lose hope.

My overarching advice here is this: don’t just sit on job sites applying for safe-sounding jobs that you know you can do. Discover your hidden skills, and get out there to expand upon them. Build your network, get some experience and learn from others. Consider opportunities that you may not have previously considered.

All the while, look after yourself, take breaks and don’t try to compete with your peers. Rest assured that you are doing the best you can by following the above advice and, before you know it, you will find yourself in the perfect role for kick-starting your postgraduate career.

By Robby Vanuxem

Robby Vanuxem is the managing director of Hays Belgium.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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