Careers advice: Finding a graduate job
23 August 2019
Not found a graduate job yet? Feeling like the odd-one out?
This is a big step and it’s normal to feel a bit confused, anxious or even overwhelmed by the prospect of finding your first proper job. Remember, you’re just deciding on the first step, not committing yourself to one thing for the rest of your life – in fact, it’s becoming the norm for people to change jobs and even careers a number of times during their working life.
Finding a graduate job that’s right for you, for the foreseeable future, is a process that takes time but it’s important to make a start and not just hope it will resolve itself without some effort! Remember, in spite of these politically uncertain times, there are still many great job opportunities for graduates.
WBS offers lifelong career and professional development aupport for all alumni
How can you get help? If you’re finishing your course this year and don’t have any plans yet, don’t worry. There’s a wealth of career planning resources on how to improve your CV, make effective applications, succeed in interview and at assessment centres, sector-specific careers information, and support from WBS available here.
Once you leave, the WBS CareersPlus Alumni Careers team will be on hand to provide coaching, guidance and support, whatever stage you’re at with your career, and can offer remote appointments to allow you to access the service wherever you are in the world.
Don't hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for success
Stay positive and keep your end goal in mind: setbacks and rejections are part of the process – record what you learn from them and see them as steps towards getting to where you want to be.
Short-term options: Temping, work experience, volunteering, part?time work, short contracts – all of these are a good use of your time while you are applying for a permanent position. It’s better to be adding experience and skills to your CV than just waiting for the perfect job, which may take some time.
Always have a ‘plan B’ (and maybe ‘Plan C’ too) to fall back on: things don’t always work out the way you want at first.
Focus: knowing what you want to do will ensure stronger applications. Go to WBS’s CareersPlus online career management course and follow this simple 3-step structure to achieve greater focus and narrow your options:
- Step 1 - Knowing yourself (skills, values, what you enjoy doing)
- Step 2 - Exploring Options (researching types of work and sectors)
- Step 3 - Making Choices (deciding on options, priorities & a back-up plan).
SMEs: think beyond the well?known and large organisations. They offer great opportunities but there are also many smaller and medium?sized employers with great roles for graduates and with far fewer applicants.
Don’t just rely on advertised jobs. Some firms offer graduate internships and direct, speculative approaches to potential employers in your target field can be an effective way of securing a position, which they might never have advertised. For some sectors, this is the main way of job hunting. Get to know the typical recruitment methods for your sector. You can also create your own opportunity through your network, WBS extensive alumni networks, or speculative approaches to family, friends, and their/ your other contacts.
Check deadlines and recruitment timetables so that you can prioritise and organise your applications. The larger employers tend to recruit at least a year in advance so if you are just starting your job-hunting after graduation, you’re likely to be looking at entry for the following summer. Many other organisations, however, have a shorter timetable and recruit at different times of the year. Always keep a record of applications made and save copies of applications so that you can keep track of everything (also useful for interview preparation!).
Be thorough. There isn’t a magic number of applications that you should make. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity but at the same time you need to have enough applications on the go so you’re not putting all your hopes on only one or two. Thorough research of the job role, employer and sector will help you produce well?targeted applications. This takes time, but is more likely to result in an interview than sending off a lot of rushed applications.
Always follow up on your applications if you don’t receive a response after a couple of weeks. When employers are busy, and particularly when they receive many applications for a job, applications can be overlooked or put to one side and forgotten about so this will help ensure you’re considered.
Market yourself! Try to speak to people at the firms you’re applying to so you can mention their names and the events in your applications - it shows strong career motivation.
Polish your applications: create a well presented and targeted CV, LinkedIn profile and application form which emphasise your strengths and skills
Finally – preparation, research and practice are key to delivering a confident performance at interview and achieving your ideal graduate job. There are no shortcuts to a winning performance!