You’ve worked your heart out during your A-Levels and at university, and you’re excited about entering the world of work. Then suddenly, the world tips upside down and you’re left feeling uncertain, worried and generally less confident about your future. Does this sound familiar? Some subjects have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the creative arts, hospitality and courses that would typically contain a placement abroad, such as foreign languages. As a result, these graduates may have struggled to gain the necessary work experience they were hoping for.
In a recent survey of over 1,000 graduates conducted by Indeed, 54% said the impact of Covid on the labour market has made them feel less confident in finding work after they graduate. In addition, 33% said they think they’ll struggle to get into the industry they’re graduating in.
There is a silver lining for graduates!
The silver lining is that companies ARE hiring, and graduates are still seen as desirable and essential to industry. Graduates bring fresh ideas to the table, and as we emerge from the pandemic, now’s the perfect time to look at new ways of doing things.
Trying to land that first role after university can be daunting and frustrating. Barriers may include not knowing where to look for opportunities, lacking experience in writing a CV or application form, and interview techniques.
In this blog, I’d like to show you what you can be doing to increase your skills, give yourself an advantage over other candidates, and prepare yourself for success. I’ve also embedded links to some of my previous blogs to point you in the direction of additional information and tips. I really hope you find this helpful!
Think outside of the box
You’ve experienced something that recruitment consultants and hiring managers didn’t go through themselves when they were students. First and foremost, you should be proud of yourself for navigating your way through the highly stressful 18 months we’ve just faced. This presents an opportunity to showcase your resilience, ingenuity and creativity skills as a result of the pandemic. For example, did you learn any new skills or take up a new hobby during lockdown? Did you volunteer to shop for elderly neighbours or help at a food bank? What you did in lockdown can really be used to your advantage.
As I mentioned before, some industries were hit harder than others. However, if we think back to lockdown, groceries sales, online deliveries and digital services boomed. Whilst you may have your heart set on a particular career path, don’t forget that many skills are transferable, so if you’re struggling to find opportunities in your desired industry, consider other companies to get a foot in the door.
Focus on areas you can control
If you feel like you lack essential skills, carry out a SWOT analysis looking at your strengths, weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats in employment right now. This will give you clarity on areas you can improve on. To plug these gaps, consider short-term intern work, online training courses or qualifications to increase your skills and experience. However, be mindful of your financial situation. The last thing you want to do is take on unnecessary, additional debt. The good news is, there are plenty of free courses available and places like LinkedIn are a great place to start.
Before tackling your CV, an application form or job interview, think about your personal brand.
- Consider the unique qualities that make you who you are (your personality, character, strengths, interests and skills)
- What are your areas of expertise?
- What gives you credibility (for example, your achievements and accomplishments)?
- Consider your unique selling points
- How do you want the world to see you (for example, your presence, energy, image and confidence)?
There are so many different ways for graduates to learn about job opportunities, such as social media, friends, universities, recruitment agencies, online job fairs and LinkedIn. For more information on how to start building a network and using it to help you secure a role, visit my previous blog.
Create an eye-catching CV
There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to writing a CV. There are plenty of dos and don’ts to consider though. If you feel like your CV needs a serious overhaul to make it stand out in a crowded field, be sure to do your research and spend the time getting it up to scratch.
Applicant Tracking Systems are commonly used by recruiters and employers to collect, scan, sort and rank the applications they receive. It’s important to understand how ATS work and what you can do to ensure your application form or CV stands the best chance of getting in front of an actual person!
Brush up on your interview skills
Many graduate training schemes had already moved to online assessment centres and interviews to save time and money. In addition, as a result of the pandemic, the vast majority of interviews are now conducted online due to social distancing measures. However, online interviews present their own unique challenges!
My top three tips for excelling online are:
- Preparation. Ensure you have everything you’ll need, including the link to the interview and your laptop charger. If you’re worried your Wi-Fi will be troublesome, turn the Wi-Fi off on other devices in your house, such as tablets and mobile phones. Give it the best possible chance.
- Location, Location, Location. You want to make the best impression you can, so choose an appropriate place to conduct your interview. Make sure it’s well-lit and quiet. You may want to try elevating your laptop slightly so that you can look straight ahead into your webcam, which will replicate talking face-to-face with the interviewer(s) instead of looking downwards.
- Practice makes perfect. You could set up a dummy interview and ask a friend or family member to run through a few mock questions with you. Remember to ask them for feedback on the lighting, camera angle and sound quality. If you feel a little embarrassed practising with someone you know, try recording yourself instead. It may feel a little strange, but the more practise you can do, the more you will hone your interview skills and give yourself the best possible chance to shine on the day.
Would you like more help and advice to enter the workforce?
If you’re a graduate and would like to find out more about how I can support you to secure a job, contact me to book a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation. It would also be great to connect with you on LinkedIn and Facebook!
Finally, I wish you the best of luck as you embark on this exciting new chapter of your life!