How to Find a Job After Graduating from University
It’s easy to get disheartened if you are struggling to find a job after university, but everyone knows that it's no mean feat. In fact, recent research conducted by The Knowledge Academy found that the graduate employment rate in the United Kingdom is 79.6%, placing the UK in 18th place when compared to the rest of Europe, and below Ireland (80.6%).
Graduate job hunting is a rigorous process and you are up against a high volume of other graduates in the same position as you, so you need to be on your job search A-game to put yourself in the best stead. Here are our top tips to help you put yourself ahead of the competition.
1. Create an achievement-based CV
Before you begin applying for any graduate job, sort out your CV. This can be tricky, especially if you haven’t gained much – or any – work experience in your desired field. As a result, it is a good idea to create an achievement-based CV, which highlights the skills you have gained from education, academia, extracurricular activities or other jobs. Essentially, the aim is to create a CV that ticks enough boxes that the employer will want to give you an interview!
When hiring graduates, it’s not only about relevant work experience; employers look for well-rounded individuals with the ability to perform. If you can demonstrate this by showing where you have been successful over the last 5 years and what you have accomplished in other areas of your life, you’ll be well placed to stand out.
Lastly, don’t forget about your university performance. If your grades were good, make sure you let them know. For instance, if you received an award for being the most improved, having the highest mark or got a first in your dissertation, emphasise this.
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2. Network, network, network!
No doubt, you’ve heard this a million times before throughout your school and university life, but this is vital if you want to bag a dream graduate job. Remember, it’s all about getting your name out there and standing out from the crowd.
Perhaps the most effective way of marketing yourself online and networking is to use a website designed specifically for professional networking – LinkedIn.
Firstly, start off by ensuring your account is up-to-date with your achievements and qualifications, just like your CV. Don’t forget to let people know that you are seeking opportunities in your industry too.
The next step is to connect with people. To begin with, connect with people you know, such as your parents, relatives, neighbours, friends and teachers. Next, connect with people in your chosen industry. The best way to do this is to conduct some background research into the biggest players in and any companies you’d like to work for, then search through their employees on LinkedIn.
Please note: It’s not a good idea to add everyone on the list, so be selective. You may even want to reach out to them personally via “InMail” to introduce yourself and ask them any questions you may have – they may have some valuable tips for you.
Other social media platforms are also a great way to connect with other likeminded people in your industry. Twitter is a good place to join conversations and there are many Facebook groups that you can join to keep up-to-date with industry-specific news and read advice.
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3. Make yourself employable
With one in three students graduating university with a first-class degree, it can be difficult to stand out with your degree alone. As a result, it is a good idea to find new ways to make yourself more employable to employers. As a result, you may want to:
When volunteering your time, it has to mean something to you and give you the opportunity to enhance your soft skills. For example, look for a role that will give you the chance to work on a team, deal with customer issues and possibly take on a leadership role.
It’s a good idea to keep a diary of what you do, so when it comes to a job interview you have some specific examples to provide them of your experience to stand out from other candidates.
- Get some work experience
Work experience opportunities such as internships are a fantastic way to get experience on your CV for your chosen industry. This can demonstrate to potential employers that you have the skills, knowledge and hands-on experience they’re looking for, and give you practical examples you can speak about in an interview. This work experience can also provide references who can vouch for you when applying for future jobs.
If you are still at university, you can still complete work experience alongside your studies as programmes often run in the summer and are only a few months long. Alternatively, if you have already finished university, internships can run at any point of year and last for a varying amount of time, from as little as a month to a full year.
It is important that while on an internship you show the employer how valuable you are. You should get out of your comfort zone and try new things, or go the extra mile. You’ll be able to add this work experience to your CV and, if the company is impressed with you, they may even decide to offer you a full-time job.
It’s worth noting that many work experience roles and internships are unpaid, so bear this in mind when applying to take into account commuting or living expenses.
- Take a course
To set yourself apart from other candidates, it is a good idea to think about taking a course – whether it be online or in person – to gain an extra qualification to your name, especially if it is related to the skills required to do the job. This could put you in a good position against other graduates, as your extra skills or knowledge will show employers that you’re ready to job and prove how committed you are.
Don’t worry, if you are unable to afford a course after graduating from university, online courses can be very affordable, or even free, and there are many resources on the internet to help you get clued up on industry knowledge.
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4. Apply to relevant jobs
When applying for graduate jobs, it’s important not to apply for everything and anything. Think about it: you spend around 80% of your life at work, so it is vital that you are interested and will enjoy the nature of the job, otherwise you may end up feeling miserable and looking for a new role as soon as you start.
So, for every job application that takes your fancy, make sure you dedicate time to research the company in detail before applying. If you would like to apply after delving into the firm further and re-reading the job description and specification, ask yourself these all-important four questions:
Does the role fit my long-term career plans?
Do I meet the job requirements?
Will I fit into the company culture?
Will the commute be manageable?
If you are still ready to apply at this point, submit a personalised covering letter and CV and tell the company why you are perfect for the specific role.
It is a good idea to quote language used in the job description in your covering letter.
In addition, don’t forget to contact recruiters. One simple search through Google will show you that there are thousands of recruitment agencies positioned all over the UK, with many specialising specifically in graduate recruitment. Contact an agency and speak to them about your wants and needs, and they will do their best to find the perfect role for you – it’s their job!
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