You’ve spent three, four or even five years at university and it’s finally time to enter the world of work. You apply to a company, you get rejected, you apply elsewhere, same result. The cycle ends up repeating itself over and over again. If this sounds familiar it’s time you upped your game! Here are my top ten tips to increase your employability as a graduate or placement student.
Get the basics right
If your CV or application form is littered with errors there’s only one place it’s going: in the rubbish bin. The first thing you need to do to stop falling at the first hurdle of the job application process is to spell-check all the forms an employer will ask you to complete, including checking for grammatical errors. Once you think it all looks good, get a friend or family member to check it again for errors. Two sets of eyes are always better than one when checking your application form for common mistakes.
There are thousands of graduates and placement students all applying for the same roles as you – so what makes you and your application unique? Yes, it’s important that a CV is clear and concise, but there’s nothing to stop you from having some fun with it by using some design flair. If you’ve got a significant online following because of a blog you write, a website you’ve created or a YouTube channel you maintain, and it’s relevant to the job you’re applying for, make sure you link to them in the CV.
We’ve all waited until the very last moment to submit something, whether it an application form, a piece of coursework, a payment, whatever! Chances are that whenever we’ve submitted something at the last minute it wasn’t of the highest quality and this really shows up when recruiters go on to look at our application form. In addition to this most companies close their applications well before the deadline once enough applications have been received. You don’t want to be that person that missed out because they were too slow. Early bird catches the worm as the saying goes.
Get relevant experience
The fact that you worked in retail or a bar whilst studying is great, you may think it’s irrelevant but this part time work often equips you with a set of skills, such as customer service, which are applicable to graduate roles such as Enterprise’s Graduate Management Trainee programme. If you don’t have any experience – go and get some! Even if you don’t plan on applying for roles just yet, prepare yourself today to succeed tomorrow.
Find a hobby
Playing football, going fishing, being a keen photographer, even going to the gym will help you develop the ‘soft skills’ such as communication, dedication, resilience, teamwork and leadership that are fundamental to success in the world of work. Having a hobby may also give you a common interest with the recruiter,which is sure to work in your favour.
Do your research
Although recruiters are not expecting you to know everything about an organisation at the application stage, they do expect you to have completed some basic company research and know the fundamentals of the business such as what they do and their products, as well as the market in which they operate and their competitors. They are also likely to assess your knowledge of the history on the organisation such as when they were founded, how they’ve grown, their recent performance financially and key personnel such as the CEO or founder. Companies such as Enterprise make this sort of information easily accessible on their websites.
Know your strengths and your weaknesses
Most people find it easy to talk about their strengths. Being confident is great but don’t let that confidence turn into arrogance. Everyone has weaknesses of some kind and being able to identify and articulate those weaknesses is not something that comes naturally to most people. However, when you do, and you manage to articulate it well, it shows great self-actualisation and a willingness to continuously improve; all skills and traits which employers see as important.
Stick to the facts
Do not – under any circumstances, at any stage of the application process, or on your CV, lie about your qualifications, your skills, or your experience. You will get found out, and you are just wasting your own time as well as the recruiter’s time.
You shouldn’t think of an interview as an interrogation. Obviously they’ll be assessing whether you are a good fit for the job you’ve applied for, but at the same time you should think of a job interview as an ideal opportunity for you to assess whether you like the organisation or not. A great way to do this is to ask questions during or at the end of an interview. You could maybe ask the interviewer what, in their opinion, is the best or worst part of working for the company.
Ask for feedback
So you apply and your application gets rejected, what can you do? Learn from it! Call or email the recruiter asking for feedback, the worst they can say is no.
If you want to join a company that offers proven career progression, make sure you explore our graduate jobs.
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