11 Tips To Help You Find A Graduate Job

11 Tips To Help You Find A Graduate Job

Job hunting hasn't been easy this year, with many companies reducing their budgets and increasing redundancies. The jobs available are even more competitive, which has made recruitment processes more stringent as a result. This is why preparation is key. You need to ensure you are investing the same amount of effort into each application - remember it's quality, not quantity. If someone told me "it will take you six months to find a grad job" (yes, it took me six bloody months!!) I would have started applying for jobs as soon as I handed in my dissertation! If you're an undergrad who hasn't secured a grad scheme, it is best to start looking for a graduate job around April time. Seasonal peaks start between May - July and September - November. 

It can be a really time-consuming and mentally draining process. What makes it worse is when you are unaware of the mistakes in your applications, and you keep repeating them. Hopefully, this post will save you A LOT of time and get you quicker results. I will share valuable tips from my own learning experience to help you increase your chances of securing a job earlier. If you're a current graduate who's still looking for a job right now, don't give up because an opportunity is around the corner! I know it may be taking you longer than you expected, but you will find a job soon. 

How to Find a Graduate Job

1) Perfect your CV and Cover Letter

Your CV needs to be a professional representation of you. It should be 1-2 pages long, not the length of an essay! My CV follows the following format: personal statement, skills, achievements, work experience, education and hobbies. If you are still a student, I would strongly suggest you use the careers service at your university to get a CV and cover letter check done. Find out whether your university has a mentorship programme too because mentors can be great to partner with when you are looking for a job. Not only can they assist you with the recruitment process, but they can also help you navigate what sort of career path you want to pursue and how you can get there.

Perhaps consider paying for a CV professional. My mum insisted that she would get one for me, but I told her that it would be a waste of money because my CV is fine. After giving in because she wanted to help me, I had a professional re-create my CV. My personal statement sounded too professional, so I stuck to my old one (I will keep it for the future though). I also kept my old CV format and layout, but I did implement a few changes like replacing my old job summaries with the summaries on the new CV because it sounded much better. 

You need to ensure that you include all the essential requirements/skills in your CV and cover letter. For example, if a company's essential requirements were:

 Degree (or 3+ years of college) in a relevant field

  • 1+ years’ experience in consumer marketing (combined internship experience can work)
  • Strong copywriting and editorial skills
  • Familiarity with email marketing platforms especially Braze.
  • Familiarity with design software (e.g., Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator) and/or video editing software (e.g., Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere)
  • Proficient with MS Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Teams)
  • Ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong interpersonal, analytical, and organizational skills
  • self-starter with an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Familiarity with HTML, email marketing programs, and Google Analytics is a plus

Include all of these requirements (excluding the first one) under the skills section in your CV. I would put the words in bold in my personal statement. The last requirement is a desirable skill as it is seen as "a plus". Even if you do not have the desirable skills stated in job descriptions, still apply!

Cover letters should not be longer than a page but try to get your points across into 3-4 concise paragraphs. Mention most of the skills required in your cover letter with an example of how you applied it and then link it back to how this would allow you to carry out one of the responsibilities in the job description. I looked at Google images for examples and realised four months later that my cover letter was too long. Most of it was just a repeat of what was on my CV.

What should you include in a cover letter?

1) Intro - why you want to work at the company? Do your background research! I always mention the companies values and how it resonates with me. 

2) Main body - what your skills can offer to the company? Link back to the job description. Discuss how you have the skills they are looking for and how it will allow you to carry out the responsibilities of the role. 

3) Conclusion - what makes you different? Do you have an eagerness to learn? Do you want to make a lasting impact? 

2) Set up a LinkedIn profile 

LinkedIn is a great platform to use to build and maintain your connections with people you know and that you have worked with before. Recruiters are looking for candidates to fill roles daily, so by making sure your profile stands out increases your chances of a recruiter approaching you. 

You don't need to copy every single bullet point under each of the job responsibilities in your CV. Pick 3-4 of the main ones to put in your profile.

3) Make use of your connections

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to make a better effort to build my network. Simply keeping in touch with your previous manager in your last internship by dropping an email or arranging a meeting is a great way to strengthen your work relationship. They would be more than happy to give you advice or help you out on your job search. They might even allow you to go back to work for the company.

When you are looking for a job, you need to make your connections aware. Telling friends, family and people you have previously worked with you are seeking work can create more opportunities than you think.

4) Use different keywords, job search engines and create online profiles

Searching around the different type of roles in the field you want to get into can give you key terms to use during your job search. You will then be able to see a variety of roles. Since I was seeking marketing roles, I searched for terms such as graduate marketing, digital marketing, marketing executive, content marketing and SEO marketing.

If you are in the first year of university, definitely consider doing a year in industry. Applications are open and some might open next year. Get prepared! You can even work part-time in the field you are interested in (depending on the industry) when you're an undergraduate. Consider finding an internship even if it's not paid because you need experience. It's only temporary after all. An internship can lead to a job, so it might be worth applying to internships and graduate jobs. Many big companies have summer internships so start looking now. No matter what year you are in university make sure you apply!

There are many recruitment sites you can use to look for new job opportunities (not just Indeed and Reed!). Make sure you complete an online profile for every single site because it increases your chances of being headhunted by a recruiter. Don't forget to take a look at your uni careers website too.

Graduate Recruitment Bureau - www.grb.uk.com/sbm/905762

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/company/linkedin/jobs/ 

Glass Door - https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/index.htm

Bright Network - https://www.brightnetwork.co.uk/

Target jobs - https://targetjobs.co.uk/

Give A Grad A Go - https://www.giveagradago.com/

Debut - https://debut.careers/auth/login (download their app, recruiters are always looking for new talent!)

Ziprecruiter - https://www.ziprecruiter.co.uk/

Prospect - https://www.prospects.ac.uk/graduate-jobs

Sphere Recruitment - https://www.spheredigitalrecruitment.com/

Aspire - https://www.weareaspire.com/

Upwork - (perfect if you are looking to do some freelance work on the side of your job search or permanently)

Fashion Workie - https://www.fashionworkie.com/

The Dots - https://the-dots.com/

Work in Startups - https://workinstartups.com/

Setting email alerts on 1-3 of these websites (especially LinkedIn) is a smart way of keeping you up to date with the latest roles you're interested in. It can save you time from having to keep searching for jobs on the same websites. Instead, you can check your emails and follow up.

5) Read job descriptions CAREFULLY

Last month, a hiring manager on Indeed approached me to apply for one of their roles. I briefly read the job description, edited my CV, created my cover letter and completed a 40-minute assessment. A week later the hiring manager contacted me and to say they liked my application and asked, "just to confirm, are you on universal credit?". Huh? Universal credit? What has that got to do with anything? I went through the job description again and it said in simple plain English, "You must be on universal credit to apply". Oh FFS! Yes, I was really pissed at myself knowing I wasted so much time on a job application I wasn't even eligible to apply for! Lord knows how I managed to miss that. Lesson is - read job descriptions CAREFULLY. You're already spending a lot of time on job applications as it is, don't waste more of your time!

Best practice would be to analyse the job description by copying and pasting it into a word document and highlighting keywords, phrases, desirable skills (if you have them) and all the essential requirements/skills. This is helpful when you are creating your cover letter and tailoring your CV. Use the job description as a checklist to ensure you have included all the keywords into your application. If one of the essential requirements for a job is "5 years+ experience in analytics" and you are a fresh graduate who has less than a year's worth of experience please, don't bother applying. Be smart with where you choose to apply, but don't narrow down your options too much.

6) Create a job tracker spreadsheet

Keeping tabs on the applications you have submitted will help you keep track of where you are with each application. Always follow up on companies you have not heard from to get an update! 

Click here to gain access to a free job tracker I created.

7) Ask for feedback

Always ask for feedback! Even if you think they will not give it to you, it is always better to ask. When you are aware of your areas of improvement, your applications will get better and increase the chance of you securing an interview!

8) Take breaks 

Look for jobs often but don't run yourself to the ground. Having a day off does not mean you are a failure! 

9) Do a course alongside your job search

Doing a short course to develop your knowledge and gain new skills can improve your job prospects (only if it's relevant to your field). Your future employer will see you are eager to learn. It also shows good use of initiative, since you are trying to be proactive.

Coursera and LinkedIn have many valuable online courses. You are given a certificate when you complete the course, which can be shared and added to your LinkedIn profile and CV.

10) Unadvertised job market

I was really shocked to find out that 80% of the job market is unadvertised. 80%!! Just goes to show how many hidden opportunities there are, not all employers post their jobs online. Making speculative applications can persuade employers to create a job opportunity that is not there. This involves creating a cover letter that addresses a particular role that exists in the company but is not advertised. You can touch on the company's mission, what difference you can make and what the company is missing. It would also be useful to do wider research by looking at news articles, social media and press releases.

11) Smash Your Interview 

Interviews can be nerve-racking, but it gives you the chance to sell yourself and show the employer that you are the best candidate for the role. When you prepare for your interview, make sure you follow STAR:





My mentor suggested I created a document that covered my key strengths/skills and followed STAR. Interview preparation became much easier as I could just read through my notes.

Common interview questions:

Why do you want to work for ......?

What do you know about.....?

Why did you apply for this role? (Point out you have the skills they're looking for, give examples and then link to the job responsibilities)

What is your proudest achievement?

Describe a time you faced a challenge and what you did to overcome it?

Explain a time where you perserved?

What are your goals in 5 years?

What are your biggest weaknesses? 

Interviewers will always ask if you have questions at the end. I usually ask: 

"What is the work-life balance like?"

"What is the typical career path?"

"What are the next stages of the recruitment process?"

It can get tempting to settle for any job that comes your way when you are tired of applying. Think of the type of career path you want to follow. Listen to your gut when you feel like a particular job or company isn't right for you. Be open-minded but not to the point that you do something you hate. Find a balance between not being too picky and knowing your worth. Rejection hurts, but let it motivate you. Resilience will help you bounce back when a door closes. Don't forget - rejection is redirection. 

Sometimes your first job might not be ideal for you but may act as stepping stone to the role you actually want. We might even find ourselves in jobs we didn't think we would like but end up liking. Getting your first role can be a long journey for some (especially for 2020 grads!) but you do eventually reach your destination. If I'm ever asked about a time I was resilient at a job interview, I wouldn't hesitate to talk about 2020!

How to Use Your Time Wisely and Be More Productive

This guest post was written by Anita & edited by Rashidah.

How many times have you had something to do but didn't do it or complete it just because you didn't have enough time? I'm raising my hand right now because I've done this countless times. It's not that you didn't have enough time because we all have the same hours per day. We just lack the right skills to manage our time properly. Time management is one of the most important skills you should learn, so pay close attention because it will help you succeed in life and you will have more time to do the things you love.

It is absolutely necessary for you to be able to manage your time effectively. Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. It is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities.

To be able to manage your time effectively, certain factors come into play. There are things you need to do but first, let's look at the consequences of failing to manage your time properly and the benefits of time management.

Consequences of Not Managing Your Time Properly 

1. Missed deadlines

Have you ever missed a deadline for something just because you failed to allocate the time to do the right thing at the right time? If you don't manage your time properly, you struggle to meet your deadlines and fall behind on the work you need to complete. 

2. Bad reputation

When you don't manage your time effectively, people will remember you for it. If you keep missing your deadlines, no one will want to give you a task to do. You will end up becoming known as someone who can't get things done, and I'm sure you don't want to be known for that. Work on your time management skills, so you can organise your work efficiently and make sure no one can ever doubt your work abilities.

3. Poor work quality

Poor time management means you will be in a rush to get things done, which will decrease the quality of your work. Wrong answers, inaccurate data, typos, lack of clarity, emailing the wrong person...you name it.

4. Higher stress levels: 

When you fail to make good use of your time, you will probably find yourself stressed out. Either you don't have time to complete the tasks you need to do, or you've left it to the very last minute. When you are stressed, you feel under pressure to get things done. When you're under pressure, you end up feeling tired, worn out and frustrated.

5. Wasted time

Have you ever felt like you didn't do anything in a day, but it flew by because you kept procrastinating or you were just being lazy?

Benefits of Good Time Managment

1. You'll never miss a deadline

When you manage your time properly, you won't miss deadlines because you'll have enough time to hand in your work. It gives you a chance to develop a good name for yourself - you'll get more jobs or clients for your business because they can trust you'll deliver.

2. You produce great work

Organising your day and prioritising your tasks means there is no reason to be rushing your work. You won't be under pressure which reduces the chances of you making silly mistakes. By giving yourself enough time, you can carefully check back on what you've done to correct any errors. No one likes things of poor quality, so it's always better to do things at the right time. That way, you confidently produce your work to the best standard.

3. More time to do the things you love

When you make good use of your time, you avoid wasting time because you were intentional with how you spent your day. Rather than allowing your work to pile up or increase your never-ending to-do list, you actually get more time to spend with your family/friends or doing things you enjoy.

10 Tips for Managing Time Effectively

1. Create a to-do list

To manage your time effectively daily you should have a to-do list for each day. You could have a jotter that you carry around that has your plans for the day. 

2. Plan ahead

Plan your to-do list ahead of time. Try to limit it to 3-4 main things you want to accomplish. Know what you are going to get done the day before. Plan your week ahead, plan your days ahead.

3. Schedule your days

Have an assigned time to get things done. It's not enough that you have a to-do list, when are you actually going to do them? Set time limits for your task, check how you spend your time, note down your distractions and actually get things done. Creating daily schedules are a great way to plan how your day operates by looking at time allocations for your tasks and to see your to-do list visually.

3. Set goals

I find that setting goals are an amazing technique if you want to get things done. When you have goals you have something you are working towards, and you get motivated to work towards those things. Goal setting is important for success in all that you do. For time management you could write out goals to do with avoiding unnecessary tasks like checking your phone repeatedly, binge-watching Netflix, going to the bar when you know you have something important to do by that time and so on. Set goals to be more productive.

4. Prioritise: 

start with the most important and difficult tasks first to get it out of the way. Most times, when I start with the easy tasks, I struggle to go back to the ones I find difficult and end up procrastinating. Schedule to complete things that don't require much brainwork towards the end of your day.

5. Focus on one task at a time

I know some people are good at multitasking but choose to focus on one thing at a time. Don't be in a rush to get a lot done or keep doing little bits and pieces of everything until you have a lot of incomplete work and not a single one finished. Take one step at a time, focus on one task at a time. Remember quality, not quantity!

6. Eliminate unnecessary tasks

Do the needful. If it is not necessary to do, don't do it. Create a what-not-to list so you can focus on what's valuable and avoid wasting time on unimportant tasks. Do the things that are worth doing.

7. Reduce interruptions

What distracts you the most when you are trying to get things done? You have to either reduce the time you spend on it or avoid doing it all together. If it's the TV or your phone that distracts you, you could turn it off or put it on silence. Just choose to remove distractions so you can focus well. 

8. Organise yourself

Be more organised. Organise your work area. Most people don't like to work in an untidy environment I know I don't, I don't even get the motivation to do anything. Make sure you organise your work area in a way that is cool for you and also comfortable. 

9. Remove unnecessary task

If you have more than 4 things on your daily to-do list I can guarantee not everything is important. Remove the unnecessary stuff, by doing this, you get more time to focus on the tasks that truly matter.

I hope from today onwards you get to manage your time better. Your time is more valuable than money, you can get more money but you can't get more time. Once it's gone, it's gone so spend your time doing what's important.

Let me know in the comments section, which tips do you follow and which tips will you adopt?

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