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Tips for Navigating the Graduate Job Search

It has come round to that time of the year again. All the assignments have been submitted, final grades are being received, and third-year university students are about to take their first steps into graduate life and into the working world.

The recent graduates of 2020 and 2021 have already had a challenging time already. They have had to adapt to online learning and complete exams and assignments in their bedrooms during the most crucial time of their entire degree. Their university journey also resulted in an anticlimactic ending as graduation events have either been postponed to a later date or cancelled completely.

Now they are entering a job market that does not favour entry-level, young talent to say the least. Statistics from the Commons Library regarding the effects of the pandemic highlighted that employment levels between those ages 16-24 as well as 65+ have fallen by 9%. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Prospects revealed that out of almost 5,000 graduates 29% of final year students had lost their job, 29% had lost internships, and a further 28% had, had their graduate job offer either deferred or rescinded.

Internships, graduate schemes, and other entry-level roles were often the first to be culled by companies as the pandemic forced many of them to scale down their workforce last year. According to Burning Glass Technologies, a labour analytics company, entry-level postings have started to recover this year. However, the number of adverts for such roles is still below the levels seen in Spring 2019, so competition is still tough.

If you are a recent graduate trying to enter the working world then, first of all, congratulations! Getting through university is an achievement so make sure you make time to celebrate. Secondly, you are not alone. We know the job hunt is a daunting task, especially now more than ever, but there are plenty of organisations providing resources out there to help you.

Here are Kiwi Recruitment’s tips for navigating the graduate job search to help get you on the pathway to success.

Do some research

One of the first and most important things to do is spend some time working out what role and industry you want to go into. This way you can tailor the rest of your whole approach towards this role and industry, bettering your chances of getting a job.

Do some research into the industries your degree can lead to. Make sure you are aware of all your options before you start writing yourself off from certain roles. Your degree may actually open you to more roles and industries than you may realise and take your career in a completely different direction than you may have previously visioned.

It can be a struggle to decide what is right for you when you first start. If you’re struggling, have a think about what aspects of your degree you enjoyed, what your skillset is, what your particular passions are, and what kind of working environment you think you’d suit best. Your answers to these questions will be helpful in giving you some guidance on what jobs and industries you would be best suited for.

And of course, don’t forget these decisions don’t have to be set in stone. You’re looking for your first job after graduation, so it’s okay to still be somewhat uncertain about what you want to do. Once you get out there and get some experience in a graduate job you will begin to learn more about what you are good at and what you enjoy, and you can use this to help you as you move forward in your career.

Create a stand-out CV

Before you start making applications, it is crucial that you take some time to create a stand-out and up-to-date CV and cover letter.

While you might think getting your first few applications out as fast as possible is the best thing to do, it’s actually worth giving yourself all the time you need to build your CV so that it sells yourself as well as it possibly can. Your CV and cover letter is your first chance to impress an employer and is ultimately what your chance of progressing to the next stage of the application process depends on.

Include your previous work experience, skills, education results, and any hobbies and interests you have so that you’re giving the employer a well-rounded view of yourself. However, make sure you are being as concise as possible and avoid rambling on your CV. You want to make sure the employer isn’t having to look hard to find the details they need, or they will stop looking. Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages at an absolute maximum, though being this early in your career, one A4 page should be enough.

Another important thing to do is ensure you are tailoring your CV and cover letter to each role you are applying for. This may seem time-consuming but making some small changes for each application can help employers instantly see if you’re a great match for the role. Study the job description carefully and emphasize the skills required on your CV, demonstrating where you’ve developed and used these skills in situations. Add a sentence into your personal profile that shows you want to work for a company like theirs, e.g. “An enthusiastic, hard-working graduate now looking for opportunities in start-up organisations.”

Boost your employability

A hurdle that some graduates find in their job hunt is that, despite their degree, they struggle the land the graduate job they want due to a lack of skills or experience. If this is the case for you, it may be worth spending some time upskilling and boosting your employability.

This could be done by returning to education to complete a masters if you think this is a worthwhile option. Additionally, you could look into completing some short work experience placements to help you gain the experience and develop the degrees you need.

Another option that is also low cost is taking some free online courses in the industry or role you want to get into. Short online courses have become popular during the pandemic with people looking to upskill and are invaluable resources to boost your employability. They’ll also help you keep up with the industry and emphasize to employers you’re passionate about it as you’ve taken time outside of your university course to further develop your skills.

Investigate what you are going to need to meet the job requirements, and then research the different options that are out there that will help you meet these needs. From there you can then pick the option that is best for you.

Build your Network

Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. It’s a common phrase that we’ve all probably heard, and the reason for that is because it’s true. While all the tips we have listed above will undoubtedly help you in your graduate job search, getting yourself get yourself out there, reach out to and network with professionals already in the industry too.

Of course, professional networking has changed a bit over the past year, with most networking events still being hosted online for the time being. While virtual networking means you can’t physically meet and get to know people as well as you could at a physical networking event, virtual networking events means that location is no issue, meaning more events will be available that wouldn’t have been so accessible if they were in person.

Research and attend these webinars, virtual careers fairs and workshops. Make sure you get involved with them; Have your camera on, take notes, ask questions where you can. Look up the people involved at the end of the event and see if you can contact them; Let them know you attended the event, who you are, that you’re interested in the company and if anyone on their team has a few minutes free for a quick zoom call. Most of these events are free, meaning all you need to do is pre-register and attend.

Don’t forget to check out your existing network, too. Useful contacts can sometimes come from the most unlikely of places. Search through family, friends, family friends, even friends of friends. Whether you haven’t seen them for years, or you haven’t even met them, it doesn’t matter. Reach out anyway. If you’re able to pick up some work experience, or an update when a position becomes available, you’ll be glad you did it.

Register to a recruitment agency

Applying to all these jobs can sometimes be an overwhelming task to take on by yourself. One way to help yourself with your graduate job search is to register with a recruitment agency.

By having a chat with a recruitment consultant, you can work out what jobs are best suited to you. They can also then help you with your search by emailing with job matches when any vacancies come up, put you forward for any you are interested in, help you prepare for any interviews and so on, helping you sell yourself in the best way possible.

Always approach a recruitment agency the same way you would an employer. Communicate with them in a professional and appropriate manner. If you build a good, working relationship with your recruitment consultant it will really help you in securing a good role.

There are thousands of recruitment agencies all over the UK, meaning wherever you are, there is bound to one local to you that will be able to help. However, while we may be biased, we think Kiwi Recruitment is the best choice for you!

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Kiwi RecruitmentTips for Navigating the Graduate Job Search