It’s never too soon to start planning for your first ‘real’ job. Many students work towards this throughout their college education. And some make a start as early as high school. Landing your first job out of college can be daunting. Follow our simple steps to remove the pressure and find the job you’ve been working towards.
Do Your Research and Plan Ahead
Do your research as soon as possible and plan ahead. Look at the market you want to enter and note down possible openings. If there are businesses you are interested in, research them fully and look for named contacts. Become familiar with their recruitment process and what they’re looking for in potential candidates.
Attend as many recruitment fairs as possible. Treat them as potential interviews and present yourself in a professional manner. Immerse yourself fully in any market-related activities.
It’s likely you’ll be carrying out your research while still studying and so the earlier you make a start, the better. Depending on your area expertise, employers may require a portfolio of work. Begin pulling this together in advance. Ensure everything is in the required format, whether this is digital or printed. Photographs should be displayed correctly. Articles and essays should be presented in a proper essay format, etc.
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Build Your Online Portfolio
If you haven’t done so already, set up a LinkedIn profile. If you already have one then make sure it is up to date. Complete all areas of your profile and ensure you upload a recent photograph and background image. Remember that this network is all about professionals and any photographs should reflect that.
Remember to add awards, voluntary experience, work experience, etc. Request recommendations and endorsements from other professionals in your field.
In addition to a LinkedIn profile, many candidates create a website or blog where they can display their work to advantage. There are many platforms that can be used for this purpose, such as WordPress. Ensure your site is kept up to date and link to any social networks you are a member of. But remember, potential employers don’t want to see pics of you wasted at the end of term party. Keep your personal and professional networks separate. Ensure that any ‘dubious’ photographs are removed or locked down.
Pull Your Resume Together
Update your resume and ensure it adequately reflects your skills and abilities. Make sure there are no errors or typos. If possible, ask someone else to look over this for you. Read our article about how to boost your resume.
Write a Tip Top Cover Letter
Many people see cover letters as a chore and regurgitate what is already in their resume. Don’t fall into this trap. Your cover letter provides you with a great opportunity to say a little more about yourself. It should pull together the job description and your skills and experience.
Get An Internship
Get an internship as soon as possible. Some students have several under their belt before graduating. Try to obtain an internship with a recognized brand. This will look great on your resume and in your endorsements.
The jobs market is notoriously competitive, and it is important to stand out in any way you can. Demonstrating work experience, in addition to your academic achievements, is a good way to go about this.
Join Industry Groups and Trade Bodies
Join industry groups and trade bodies in your area of interest. Many industries have groups associated with them. Many of these provide student memberships. Join any groups that are relevant to you and get involved in their activities. Many provide open days, seminars and networking events. Make sure you attend them and cultivate contacts within the industry. This can be invaluable when you begin your job search.
Join A Mentor Scheme
Many industries set up mentor schemes, where professionals mentor students who are about to enter the industry. If there no schemes available in your area, then consider approaching potential mentors yourself. Having a contact within your chosen field can be invaluable as they will be able to provide you with firsthand insights. They can advise on approaching businesses, resumes and what potential employers will be looking for.
Register With Your College’s Careers Service
Register with your college’s careers service. They can provide you with a wide range of advice and will notify you if suitable opportunities become available. Many businesses looking for graduates will approach colleges directly to advertise their recruitment vacancies.
Many careers services offer advice on preparing resumes, interview techniques, and job searches, etc.
Before applying for jobs, carry out an online search on yourself. This should reveal any sites you’re featured on, including photographs. If there are less than savory photographs of you, then take steps to remove them. Don’t waste your hard work by being rejected because a potential employer saw a questionable Facebook photograph.
Your online presence should reflect your professional and personal interests. It should back up what is presented within your application.
Your first interview can be daunting. A little planning and preparation can help relieve any interview nerves. Start by doing your research. It’s likely you have looked into the company already before applying. However, now is the time to go into detail. Make a list of any questions you have to demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the business.
Try to set up a practice interview in advance. Your careers service may be able to help you with this. If not, approach a friend or tutor to help you. Having an idea of the types of questions you may be asked is useful. The ‘interviewer’ will also be able to provide you with feedback.
Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the position and ensure you are punctual. Don’t be too early as this can give the impression of being over eager. It can also inconvenience your interviewers.
At the end of the interview remember to shake hands and thank the interviewer for their time. Click here for more interview advice.
The job market is crowded. For each vacancy, there is likely to be a significant response. Popular positions attract hundreds of applications. Makes sure you don’t end up on the rejection pile. Follow our advice for putting together a killer application. If you don’t, your competition will.