Author: Robby Vanuxem. Managing Director, Hays Belgium
As a job seeker you’re probably following all the standard job hunting advice. You’re updating that all important CV, finessing your online professional profiles, and searching job sites for roles which might be right for you.
However, there are some pearls of wisdom you may not have heard of before, but which could be the key to helping you find a job – a job that will be a catapult for your future career.
1. Don’t pigeon-hole your job search
At the moment, you may be doing what many job seekers do in your position – focusing your job search on roles which clearly reflect your degree course or previous work experience; because you think these are most relevant to you and your skills.
The truth is, you don’t need to be pigeon holed by your degree. For instance, just because you have a degree in psychology, that doesn’t mean you should apply only for psychology jobs. You could instead consider roles where elements of this degree could be useful, for instance human resources or teaching. In actual fact, you most likely have a wider range of hidden skills, which deem you suitable for roles you hadn’t considered before.
So, think about positive feedback you were given at school, university, in part time jobs, and even by your friends. Take online aptitude tests to help reveal your best qualities. Write down what you believe your key strengths to be, add these to your CV, and use these as key words when you search on job sites, as well as when you speak to your recruiter.
My point here is that you shouldn’t silo your job search. You are suited to more roles than you think; you just need to discover what these are.
2. Don’t discount temporary/contract roles
Temp and contract work is becoming “the new normal”, with the amount of temporary workers being hired thought to increase to 40 per cent by 2020. The benefits of temp/contract work are many:
- You can add valuable experience to your CV: Thanks to the short-term nature of temp and contract roles, you will have clear objectives which will need to be met over a short period of time. Meet these objectives, and you have some quick wins to add to your CV, whilst developing your own skill-set.
- You find out what you enjoy doing: You can get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing, steering you closer towards what you want from a permanent role.
- You are able to expand your network: If you make the most of your assignment, you can build your professional network, forming long lasting, valuable connections.
- You build your confidence: The assignment will get you out of your comfort zone and each success will lift your confidence.
In short, don’t consider only permanent roles. Open up your mind to temp and contract work – as this can really kick start a graduate’s career. They can provide you with some valuable experience, skills and connections, all of which will set you apart from the competition.
3. Don’t just focus your job search on big brands
Big brand names can look great on a CV, and many will offer brilliant entry level graduate positions. Don’t, however, dismiss smaller, lesser known companies when job searching.
Companies which are smaller in size are often less bureaucratic. You will therefore have more autonomy than you would have in larger organisations, with a greater possibility of pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and finding stretch opportunities within your role. By starting your career in a smaller business, you will also have more accessibility to senior management, giving you the opportunity to build some key relationships which may work in your favour later down the line.
In short, working for a smaller business can really give your career the boost it needs during its infancy. So, don’t just focus your graduate job search on big brands.
4. There’s more to job searching than updating your CV and searching for jobs online
Of course, as a graduate job seeker, you will be spending a large portion of your day looking and applying for jobs, but there are also other things you should be doing to help you find the right graduate job-and fast:
- Upskill yourself: As a recent graduate who has spent several years in academia, your CV may be lacking in professional expertise. As much as many hiring managers will understand this, there’s no harm in giving yourself a competitive edge by taking the initiative to increase your skill-set. Volunteer at charities, take some online courses, or start your own blog. Whatever you choose to take on, make sure you are constantly finding ways to add value to your CV.
- Expand your network: Meeting with a recruiter is a great way to build your professional network. However, you should also use your online professional profiles to reach out to others; from getting involved in industry discussions, to sharing news and blogs with your network. You should also attend relevant networking events and seminars to get some more face-to-face interaction with potential connections. If you can, get hold of the attendee list ahead of the event, and ask the host to make introductions.
- Get interview ready: Again, having spent several years in academia, you may be slightly unfamiliar or at the very least, rusty, when it comes to job interviews. Hopefully it won’t be long until you get a phone call inviting you in for an interview, so use this in-between period to brush up on the latest interview techniques, from answering competency based questions, to how to tackle those trickier ones, such as “tell me about a time you failed.” Practice answering interview questions with friends, family, or your recruiter, so that you feel poised and confident when the time comes. You can read more of our interview preparation advice here.
5. Maintain a job search routine and stay motivated
Periods of unemployment can take their toll on anybody’s well-being, especially a recent graduate going through the transition of student to job seeker, working hard to find their first graduate job.
It is therefore important that you maintain a routine so you stay upbeat and motivated. Get up early and fill your days with productive activity such as job searching, upskilling and networking. Having said that, make sure you take regular breaks to do what you enjoy doing, from seeing friends, to pursuing hobbies and interests. Exercise is also a great way of relieving the stress of finding your first graduate job, and something I highly recommend.
6. Don’t compare yourself to your friends
Lastly, don’t compare yourself to your peers, especially if they have already found work. I still remember that fear of not finding a job after graduation and getting left behind. I wish I had realised how many other people felt exactly the same. Just have faith that you are doing the best you can, you simply haven’t found the right opportunity for you yet, but that’s no need to give up or lose hope.
My over-arching advice here is this: Don’t just sit on job sites applying for “safe” sounding jobs that you know you can do. Discover your hidden skills, and get out there to expand upon them. Build your network, get some experience and learn from others. Consider opportunities which you may not have previously considered. All the while, look after yourself, take breaks, and don’t try to compete with your peers. Rest assured that you are doing the best you can by following the above advice, and before you know it, you will find yourself in the perfect role for kick starting your post-graduate career.
Thank you for reading! For more useful advice and insights about the world of work, visit our dedicated blog page here or click on one of the links below.
- Networking for career success
- Struggling in your job search? Follow these 5 steps
- Employability advice videos
- Hays and Manchester City's strategic partnership
- Market intelligence: All the latest market reports from Hays