Graduate job application tips

Have you considered your graduate career yet? Whether you’re looking now or will be in the future, you need to think carefully about what you want to do to start earning money – most likely influenced by your university experiences as well as your degree subject.

Getting to that stage where you are confident in what you want to do and being able to make every application count is an important process. The more thought that goes into understanding the jobs available and how you can make the most of your applications, the better. have put together a selection of tips to help you with the graduate job hunting process, with suggestions intended to point you in the right direction and help keep you focused.

Start your search broad, but narrow quickly
You don’t have to begin looking for a graduate job or scheme with a fixed idea of what you want to do or where you want to work – considering all possibilities can be beneficial so you know you’ve had a thorough think about what’s available to you. However, narrowing down to particular industries or job roles quickly is vital so you can get a real understanding of what skills you are going to need to show evidence of, and you’ll also need to find out which part of the country – or indeed, the world – you might need to move to as that will play a major factor in every job’s appeal.

Identify jobs you really want to do.
Whatever motivates you – be it money, targets, a sense of doing good or unleashing a creative side – the one thing your first graduate role should do is inspire a desire to succeed. From your research you should know what role you want, but a role with one company may be quite different to the same role within another company depending on what their aims, services or products are. Try to ensure you will not only be able to do a job, but you’ll also care about what you are working on as it’ll make for a rewarding experience and enable you to enter the application process with an enthusiasm that recruiters will pick up on.

Be sure you match person specifications
Graduate recruiters are inundated with job applications for every role which means you need to stand out from the crowd. One of the first reasons your application would not be considered for interview by a recruiter would be you don’t have the skills or experience they are looking for to take on the role. Don’t waste time applying for jobs if you’re lacking an essential qualification or there are gaps in the knowledge you’ll need day-to-day. Recruiters will want to see evidence of all essential and desirable skills listed in their job adverts and if you can’t tick them all, your application will end up in the bin. Even if you can mask a few skills on your CV, you’re likely to face a tough time in your interview papering over the cracks – and you’ll not just make life hard for yourself, you’ll also be wasting a recruiter’s time.

Tailor your CV to every job
The generic CV is one of the biggest pitfalls of applying for jobs, and recruiters will see through a one-for-all-CV that gets sent to every recruiter no matter what the job. Tailor every element including work experience, past subjects covered and achievements to highlight all that is relevant to the recruiter who will be reading it. Look outside your studies for skills and experiences – often those most valuable will have come from getting involved in sports, clubs, societies and other extra-curricular activities.

Research every company you apply to prior to any interviews
There’s nothing worse than an uninformed interviewee. Employers want their applicants to know at least a few key facts about them beyond the basics of what they do. It is wise to research any recent news about a company you’re applying for in the run up to an interview as well as some idea of its history. Try to think of a few questions you’d like to ask your interviewers too, perhaps about the ethos of the business, what the vision of the future is and what it’s like to work there. These kinds of questions will underline your enthusiasm for the job.

Follow up applications
Another action that shows enthusiasm and helps deal with the nerves of waiting for news of a recent application before or after a recruitment stage is following up on progress. It shows you want the job and is a useful way of checking what the next steps will be in the process where it hasn’t been made clear. Don’t be afraid to call up employers rather than email – they often prefer it as they can deal with the inquiry then and there – but do be careful not to be in so much contact it irritates them. Keep any conversations short and concise.

Get feedback
Whether you’re hired or not, ask what appealed to the recruiter and what didn’t as it’ll help you when on your next application. It can be difficult finding work and don’t be disheartened by the knockbacks. You can always ask a company for feedback on why you haven’t been given a role. It’s quite normal to attend several interviews before being hired – stay positive and keep trying.