You have spent many years working towards your qualifications, and now it is time to put all your hard work to the test. No more eating breakfast at lunchtime, no more burning the midnight oil cramming for exams. It is time to step out into the big wide world to make your mark.
So what do you do now?
Let’s face it, finding your first job can be tough, especially for recent graduates who may possess all the right qualifications, but lack real-world work experience. Let’s take a look at some top tips to help newly qualified graduates get started on their career path.
1. Make a start
Doing something constructive with your time is better than doing nothing, especially if you are not sure exactly what you want to do with your degree. Don’t worry that everyone around you seems to have it all sorted out – they don’t! Chances are that they are feeling just as overwhelmed as you are right now.
The best place to start is with a solid foundation to build your efforts upon – this means putting together an outstanding resume that perfectly highlights all of your achievements and positive attributes. Building your resume will also act to remind you just how amazing you are and how lucky your future employer will be to have you.
2. Craft a flexible cover letter
Sometimes graduates can underestimate just how important a good cover letter can be. They may put all of their efforts into creating the perfect resume, but remember that your cover letter is just as important too! Your cover letter acts as your introduction to recruitment officers and prospective employers. You may have the most amazing resume in the world, but if your cover letter doesn’t cut the mustard, the recruiter is never going to get as far as reading your resume.
Your cover letter is a chance to let your personality shine through. Yes, you must tailor the content of your letter to suit the requirements of the job description, but you can inject a little of your own personal brand into your letter so the reader will see the person behind the paper.
3. Brush up on your knowledge
If you are targeting a specific company that you want to work for, it really does help to do your homework. The more background research you do on the company before you apply for a job with them the better. This way you can get a feel for the company, how they operate, the company culture, their favorite buzzwords and the language they use. Having this background knowledge will make your job application feel much more natural because you will be in-tune with their company ethos and the way they communicate.
4. Sell yourself, not just your qualification
Although you may feel that your most important aspect is your degree, your recruiters don’t place too much relevance on this. They much prefer hiring a person they are interested in because they would fit in better with the company environment. Let your recruiters see your personality rather than spend your time hiding behind your qualifications.
Demonstrate the skills you have picked up on your journey. Employers are looking for people with good soft and hard skills as well as the fact that you have proven you can study. Mention skills such as your ability to meet deadlines, your great presentation skills, your ability to work as part of a team to deliver results and cooperate with others to solve problems.
5. Gain some experience
You should be prepared to start from the bottom. No graduate can expect to leave education and walk directly into a well-paid management level job. This may mean taking an unpaid internship or offering to work for free on a part-time basis while doing some other type of paid work to earn some money.
Many companies already offer internships and graduate work experience opportunities, so if your chosen company doesn’t then maybe you could suggest this to them to help you get a foot in the door. While the idea of working for a few months for no pay sounds painful, it does show the company how dedicated you are and the drive you have to work for them. It also means that you will be in the loop about potential new job openings and already be at an advantage because you are known to the company.
Be prepared to take a risk. You never know where it will take you.