Applying for your first job after university can be a stressful and time consuming process. From the endless filling in of forms, to the constant email notifications and dreaded psychometric tests, the whole experience is enough to put anyone off. Although you can’t control all parts of the process, if you organise those you can efficiently it will make the experience run much smoother.
Don’t start on the back-foot, use these top tips to help land the job of your dreams.
Pick your base of operations and stick to it. Create a space that will be your hub throughout the search. It could be your desk, the kitchen table or your favourite café. Just make sure to keep it clean, clear and organised.
Make a list and check it twice
Keep all information relating to your job hunt in one place. Set aside a notebook or create a document on your computer where all actions and important information can be logged, including:
• Links to potential opportunities
• Passwords for job search sites, company application portals and profiles
• Deadlines for applications
• A list of applications sent
• Interview dates
• Prep work for interviews
Don’t stumble at the first hurdle. Getting an interview is hard enough, so before you apply for anything make sure your CV is up to date and get a friend to proof read it. Once you know your CV is error-free covert it into a PDF or plain word document (checking the formatting looks how you intended) to make it as easy as possible for your potential employer to read.
Write a cover (all) letter
There is nothing worse then staring at a blank page, so as Business Insider UK recommends draft a cover letter with all the must have information in. Then when you come to apply for a job you need only add in a few paragraphs that are bespoke to that opportunity. But beware! Always double-check your cover letter before sending – there’s nothing worse for a potential employer than receiving a cover letter intended for someone else.
Create a LinkedIn profile, if you haven’t already got one. Make sure it is up to date and includes a recent, professional looking photo – no selfies people.
A word to creatives
If you are looking to go into a creative field there is a good chance employers will want to see examples of your work. Save yourself the hassle in the long run and set aside some time to gather together a portfolio of your best work. It is much easier to tailor an existing portfolio for an interview then create one from scratch.
Opportunity doesn’t come knocking
Gone are the days of circling job ads in newspapers. Nowadays it feels like there are as many ways to find a job as there are jobs to be found. The amount of job search sites can be especially overwhelming. You don’t need to join them all. Some are much better then others and many double up on information. Career Experts give some guidance on how they compare. Choose a few to sign up to and set your preferences on alerts. If you know the industry you want to go into try to cut through the noise by finding sector specific publications or websites and check their job listings.
Can you give me an example of when you worked well in a team or went above and beyond your job description? If the answer is “not right now” start drafting a list of examples to draw from as this question and many like it are common on application forms and in interviews. Don’t be taken by surprise, start thinking now.
Define your search parameters
Decide where you want to work or what distance you are willing to commute each day. Be realistic and remember you will need to do this journey every day. Be savvy with it by checking out offers on railcards and train tickets. Student Money Saver can also be a great place to find deals on travel, as well as eating out and shopping. Clarify what hours you want to work. And most importantly work out what salary you want.
Reach for the sky
Next is the fun part. Create a ‘platinum list’ of 5 - 10 companies you dream of working for and check company websites for vacancies that might not be posted on job search sites. Remember, just because you’re not an illustrator doesn’t mean there isn’t a job for you at Disney. Most large companies have multiple departments requiring a variety of skills. Don’t write any of your dream companies off – you never know until you look.
Now you are ready to start applying. Putting in the effort now really can save you time in the long run. Good luck with the job hunt.