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How to get the ideal graduate job

Are you in your final year of university or are you a recent graduate looking to secure that crucial first job? Although the jobs market is crying out for suitable candidates to fill a plethora of different roles right now, it can still be challenging to find work as a graduate.

But don’t lose heart, graduates. With a proven track record of being a hard worker plus being bright to boot you’re in a really strong position. At your disposal, there are many ways to open up some brilliant graduate job opportunities.

For many graduate roles, employers seek candidates with a minimum of a 2:1 degree. Unless you possess relevant work experience a grade of 2:2 or below can be restrictive and in such a competitive market it’s easy to be passed over for those with a better result.

However, your grade is only part of it. As a graduate, you also have a unique set of skills and experience that set you apart from your competitors. If can can successfully bring these out in a job application or interview you have a great chance of receiving an offer – whatever the grade!

To help you in your quest for the ideal job, we’ve compiled a list things graduate job seekers can do to help you stand out in front of prospective employers.

1. Establish goals

Many graduates are so concerned about finding a job after graduation that they forget to consider what is right for them. We’re not saying reject everything that doesn’t provide the optimum lifestyle, but it’s important to think about what you want to get out of a graduate job.

Not many graduates land their dream job first time round so broaden your horizons and look at roles that will help you build your work experience and enhance your skill set in preparation for the ideal role.

Many graduates won’t have a clue what they want to do for work after graduation and that’s fine too. Apply for jobs that interest or intrigue you, if they don’t work out, then move on. The notion of a job for life is a thing of the past and most ambitious job hunters will build a career across several employers, not one.

2. Demonstrate proactivity

Showing an employer how you go the extra mile to develop yourself – both in your studies and spare time – speaks volumes about your motivation to succeed and is something that is guaranteed to make you stand out from your competitors.

Are you involved in a university society or have you volunteered on the university’s behalf? If you haven’t graduated yet, it’s definitely worth considering as it provides an impressive extra curricular addition to your CV.

If you’ve left university, volunteering is a great way to show a commitment to self-development. Think about causes you care about or that are relevant to your industry, or look at ways you can help your community. True, most volunteering posts are unpaid but the weight they add to your application is priceless.

3. Network

We’re all familiar with the phrase, ‘it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know’ and, for graduate job seekers, this can be crucial for getting an ‘in’ at the workplace of your dreams. It’s a fact that the majority of recruitments are a direct result of a network connection.

Even if you don’t know anyone personally in your chosen sector there are several things you can do to start to change that:

  • Sign-up for LinkedIn, the professional social media network. Create a profile (think digital CV, rather than Facebook page) and begin ‘connecting’. Start off with friends and fellow students, professors, colleagues, etc. and the connections will soon start to come.
  • Once you’ve got to grips with LinkedIn, join some LinkedIn groups (similar to chat rooms) relating to the role or sector you’d like to work in. This is an excellent way to break out of your ‘circle of friends’ and begin connecting with brand-new connections in your industry.
  • Back in the real world, join some relevant professional bodies and make an effort to attend events. These don’t need to be big national organisations; you’ll find loads of business clubs and networking groups in your local area. They are a great place to begin getting to know the business world and the people in it and they often present new and unexpected job opportunities too!

4. Spring clean social

Do you know who’s viewing your online presence? Just friends and family? Wrong!

It’s becoming increasingly common for employers to carry out checks on social media before hiring an applicant, so make sure you’re only sharing content you’re comfortable with the whole world seeing! Look at your profiles through the eyes of an employer – would you hire you? If you wouldn’t be happy showing prospective employers your social media profiles, get editing immediately.

Keep active on social media networks; share and comment on good-quality content that’s relevant to your desired industry. You’ll be surprised how many connections you can make this way. And don’t forget to use channels like LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter to freely connect with influencers in your industry – after all, that’s what social media’s all about.

5. Take action

Finding a job takes hard commitment and dedication. We know you’ve got that by the bucket load because you’ve just completed three years of hard work to get your degree. But the hard work doesn’t stop when you shrug off the gown and mortar board.

If you really want that dream job, do something everyday to boost your work portfolio, increase your contact pool or expand your experience. Treat looking for a job like having a job – do it for a certain number of hours a day, five days a week – as it’s easy to fall into bad habits quickly.

Very few graduates are lucky enough to have a job waiting for them at the end of their studies but if you follow these steps you shouldn’t have to wait too long for doors to start opening. Good luck!

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