With 370,000 students graduating from UK universities this summer, and record numbers achieving a first, how will you stand out from the competition?
Job hunting can be a big commitment and hugely time consuming but giving your CV and online profile a health check, researching your industry of choice, the organisation you’re applying to and preparing a unique cover letter for each application will pay off.
Setting yourself a daily target will help you stay focused.
It might seem obvious, but unless you want to instantly be put in the “thanks, but no thanks” pile, polishing your online profile and reviewing it like you are employing yourself is vitally important.
Check your privacy settings and make all your passwords secure. Review your activity across all platforms and consider removing anything that might raise an eyebrow.
No matter how impressive your CV, if you have an email address that’s immature, or contains profanities, it doesn’t look good. Take five minutes to sign up for an email account with an address that is sensible.
If you haven’t done so already, create a LinkedIn profile. It’s a great place for potential employers to find you as well as an excellent portal for you to research organisations and industry news. More on LinkedIn later…
Review your CV.
Your opening paragraphs need to be compelling enough to encourage the employer to read on. Consider your CV like a shop window, it’s an opportunity to sell yourself and entice prospective employers to want to find out more about you until you reach the next stage.
Up date it with your latest work experience, qualifications, and any extra-curricular activities you have been undertaking, including any key points that may be of interest such as volunteering or travelling.
If you’re replying to a specific job advert, review the key words and tasks used in the advert and include the ones that apply to you in your CV. Relevant experience will give you a greater chance of proceeding to interview stage.
Employers will be looking for certain traits, and it can be tough with little work experience in your desired field, but draw on all your experience and transferable skills gained from university, voluntary, part-time work, or life in general and provide evidence where possible for;
- Self-management (including time keeping)
- Teamwork and leadership
- Problem solving
- Communication skills
- Commercial awareness
- Customer service
- Academic and extra-curricular achievements
Some basic points to consider:
- Use clean fonts and a simple layout.
- Keep it brief and relevant by providing small, digestible pieces of information
- Ensure you include; qualifications, skills, languages, experience, and employment history.
- Your main strengths and major achievements. Give examples and specify any achievements to substantiate your claims of experience.
Have someone review your CV for you, the longer you look at a document, the less likely you are to spot mistakes. Get them to double-check your spelling and grammar and if they know you really well, may point out experience or skills you’ve overlooked.
Click here to read our full CV Guide.
Get your CV out there.
Job sites, including LinkedIn are a great place to post your CV. Include as much information as possible on your profile, using your CV as a guide of what to include such as; headline, summary, key skills, work experience, qualifications, and professional memberships as this will make you easily searchable.
Include a professional profile photo and speak to previous employers or colleagues to endorse or recommend you if the site allows.
- Keep a list of all of the jobs you have applied for to hand and why the role interested you so that you are prepared if an employer calls you.
- Follow up your CV submission with a personal email to a Director, or the person recruiting if you have their name telling them who you are, and why you are interested in their company.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Referees are an important part of any job application. Make sure you have at least two credible referees (not friends or relatives) and that they are aware they may be contacted to provide a reference for you.
If you know anyone in the industry or specialism that you are looking to work in it’s worth asking if they can give you tips or review your CV for you. They may even know of a vacancy and put you in touch with the right person. They’ll also be able to recommend networking events, blogs, or websites to expand your knowledge.
Tailor your covering letter to each individual application.
Recruitment consultants and employers read hundreds of CVs daily, so an interesting cover letter is essential to highlight your relevant strengths and let your personality shine through. A well written letter can save you from having to rewrite your CV time and time again.
Research the organisation.
You can really impress by showing them you have an interest in their organisation. Take time to research their website and social media channels. Google the company, use Google alerts to see if anything else crops up such as national press articles, and read up on the industry as a whole – including competitors. Use Linkedin to research company Directors and employees.
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is never more true than for the interview process. Regardless of the job, the more time you spend preparing, the more confident you will come across. “Winging it” is simply not an option.
Plan your outfit, and your journey.
Know your CV. You are likely to be asked direct questions based on the content and be prepared to substantiate everything with examples. The same goes for the job description, remember it well and prepare examples and skills that are directly related to it.
Difficult interview questions are bound to crop up. Try not to panic or fluster and simply answer the question as best you can without rambling so that the interview can move on.
Go through your research again prior to interview so you don’t confuse it with other organisations you’ve applied to, and use this and the job description to prepare some questions to ask the interviewer. One of our favourites is “Do you have any reservations about me?”. You need to be confident to ask this one, but it will give you the opportunity to reverse any reservations, provide alternative answers and examples, and leave the interviewer without any negative opinions of you.
After your interview, follow up with an e-mail to thank the employer for seeing you and it will keep you at the forefront of their memory. If you’re unfortunately unsuccessful, be sure to ask for feedback. It can be hard hearing criticism but ultimately it will help you with your goal of securing your dream job.