4 pro tips to help you land your first job after university

By Laura Slingo on 14-12-2017
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If you’re a student about to make a break for the real world, you may be rather hesitant about approaching your first ‘proper’ job search and landing your first job after university.

That’s OK – luckily we’re here to help guide you. Take a look at the following four tips which are guaranteed to get your graduate job search off to a flying start.

Work out what job you want

Before you begin your job search, you need to decide what job to look for. There’s nothing more unproductive than diving straight into your search without having a real focus.

Start by documenting your skills, experience and qualifications. Not only will this act as the foundations of your CV, but it will give you an idea of what you’re qualified to do.

Then address the type of job you want right now. Create a list of essential job criteria, such as the industry and location. Then create another list of the ‘nice-to-haves’ in a role, such as the company culture and working hours.

You should also take some time to consider where you want to be this time next year and in five years’ time. This will help you weigh up whether the job you’re currently seeking will give you the leverage for career progression.

Deciding what job you want after university will be easier for some graduates than others. However, by making a list of what matters to you and conducting some research, you’ll put yourself in a great place to start your job search.

Use a range of job search tools

There are plenty of ways to search for a job, and it’s important that you adopt the channels that suit you.

One way to find a job after university is by registering with staffing and recruitment agencies. These agencies work alongside top employers, finding the latest hires for their vacancies. Not only can you search and apply for jobs via the site, but the recruiting professionals at the agencies can also recommend you for jobs too. It’s like having a personal head hunter.

You can also sign up to job boards, like CV-Library, to search for the latest roles. Job boards host vacancies on behalf of agencies and employers and so there are often thousands of jobs to browse. Once you’ve uploaded your CV, you can apply for jobs and top recruiters can head-hunt you for positions too.

Other tools for job searching include employers’ websites, social media and even shop windows – although this technique is pretty old school and you’ll find almost all vacancies online.

You can use as many resources as you like to find a job, just make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself and adopt a search process that you can handle.

Get your CV in great shape

It’s great to utilise top channels to conduct your job search, but your applications are unlikely to find success if your CV doesn’t look the part.

Start by considering the key components of a CV and the structure. Generally, every CV should consist of the following sections:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Personal profile
  • Education and qualifications
  • Employment history

As a graduate, you can afford to play around with this structure so that your skills are painted in the best light.

For example, if your professional work experience is virtually non-existent, you can tweak the heading of your employment history section to ‘projects, placements and employment’ or ‘projects and placements’. Here, detail projects, modules and placements completed in or outside of university in the same way you would a position of employment. This will compensate for your lack of work experience.

You might also like to add a ‘hobbies and interests’ section to the end of your CV, providing it adds value.

Remember, you must always tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for to show that you’re a suitable candidate. Simply use the job description for inspiration and ensure your CV mirrors the requirements listed.

Familiarise yourself with the application process

It’s all very well looking for a job you love and getting your CV up to scratch. But this is just the beginning of the job-hunting process.

To land your first job after university, you must make sure you know what to expect once you submit those applications.

The usual route for a successful applicant includes being invited for an interview, possibly being invited for a second interview, followed by being offered the job.

However, it doesn’t always work like this. You might be asked to take a psychometric test, complete a DBS or give a presentation in an interview. In addition, you might not hear back about your application and need to chase, and, of course, your application may be unsuccessful.

Familiarise yourself with all potential outcomes of the job application process, so they don’t come as a surprise, and so you can perform your best at all times. For example, prepare for the different types of interviews and common questions, and keep a record of your applications and devise some ‘chaser’ templates if you don’t hear back.

If you’re unsuccessful, reflect on your application to see where you may have gone wrong and stay positive and proactive; the perfect graduate opportunity is just around the corner.

Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the UK’s leading independent job board, CV-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their  Career Advice pages.


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