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!