Attending university is one of the most exciting chapters in our lives! You may have moved away from home for the first time, found yourself becoming more independent and confident, and met new people from lots of different backgrounds who will hopefully become friends for life.
You may be feeling sad this chapter of your life is coming to a close, but another new and exciting one is just on the horizon… the start of your career!
With this may come another mix of emotions – enthusiasm, overwhelm, apprehension or uncertainty. You may be wondering which way to turn and what jobs to apply for to help you get your foot on the first rung of your career ladder.
That’s why I thought it would be interesting to look at finding a job after university. With a systematic approach and some helpful pointers, we can take some of the hassle out of landing you that first big role!
1. Identify your career
First and foremost, I’d like to stress that the first job you secure after leaving university doesn’t define your whole career. Gone are the days of a job for life. In your working life, your career may take a number of twists and turns, or you may find an industry or role that you end up working in for decades. Neither way is better or worse; it’s simply the individual nature of the paths you choose along the way.
When it comes to securing your first job though, it does help to sit down and identify where your career may begin.
There are thousands of roles out there, so it’s essential to narrow down your search area. Begin by looking at the skills, interests and experiences you’ve acquired in your education and extra-curricular activities so far. Then you can start to research what roles align with these.
It also helps when you’re having conversations with recruiters, attending networking events or chatting with friends or family. Being clear on what motivates you and where your strengths lie makes it easier for people to see where you might be a good fit.
2. Create an achievement-based CV
Creating an eye-catching CV can be tricky. Especially if you find this type of task daunting, have little experience creating one, or feel like you haven’t got much to document.
Fear not though! There are plenty of opportunities to create an achievement-based CV:
- Include relevant experience. If you’ve had a lot of part-time jobs throughout your college and university years, include the ones which demonstrate you’ve got the necessary experience for the role you’re applying for. You can always include a line that mentions other positions you’ve held in the past to show your work ethic. If you haven’t held many roles to date, talk about hobbies or situations throughout your education which demonstrate you possess the skills needed for the job.
- Demonstrate your achievements with evidence. Remember to go into detail about how elements of these roles demonstrate this experience and competencies. For example, if you’ve worked behind a bar, you could talk about your trustworthiness, attention to detail and customer relationship skills. You could also include examples of when you’ve used your skills to resolve conflict or worked as a team to solve a problem.
- Make sure you include key words to get through the applicant tracking systems (ATS). Many large companies now use ATS to screen suitable candidates before a real person sees your CV or application form. With this in mind, make sure your CV includes relevant key words from the job description or advert.
3. Prepare for interviews
Interview processes were already adapting to the digital world prior to the pandemic, and post-COVID many recruiters and industries have chosen to stick with telephone or online interviews as a first port of call to screen suitable applicants.
This type of interview has positives and negatives, and it’s important to prepare sufficiently for this method of meeting a hiring manager for the first time.
- Test your microphone and speakers to ensure they’re working correctly.
- Be set up nice and early with the link to the interview and your computer or phone fully charged with a charger handy, should you need it.
- Check your Wi-Fi and turn off any unnecessary devices if you feel they may be problematic.
- Choose a nice, quiet location with no background noise. Ensure the lighting level is sufficient.
- Practice with family or friends! Set up an online dummy interview to check everything looks ok and run through a few practice questions.
- Have all the job documentation at hand in case you want to refer to it.
- Make a few notes of important points you’d like to get across in the interview or questions you would like to answer.
You may feel more relaxed with an in-person interview as it allows you to see the workspace you’d be working in and potentially build a better rapport with the interviewer than you’re able to do online. However, don’t forget to prepare for an in-person interview by…
- Checking the interview location and allowing plenty of time to get there.
- Understanding the interview format. For example, do you need to prepare a presentation or complete any aptitude tests on the day?
- Thinking about your body language as you begin the interview. First impressions count!
In both online and face-to-face interviews, the STAR technique of answering behavioural/competency-based questions is a sure-fire way to demonstrate your skills and wow prospective colleagues.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It’s a simple method to set the scene and describe when and where a situation took place, outline the task and what your responsibility was, explain the actions you took, and finally share the outcome of these actions.
Useful resources to help you find a job after university
You may also find some of my previous blogs helpful. They contain further valuable information, from creating a CV to interview tips to help you get the job!
Would you like some more help finding a job after university?
Contact me to arrange a free discovery call to find out how I can help you.