In a world where thousands of students graduate each year, the need to stand out in a very competitive job market is crucial. For me, Graduation was a really happy day; the commencement speech was awesome and I felt like I was ready to conquer the world and shake things up in the job market. However, looking around the crowded hall of graduates it soon dawned on me that the same effort I put into earning my degree would need to be applied to getting noticed by future employers to land the job of my dreams. I knew that standing out to employers meant I had to do more than simply sending out my CV and waiting with my fingers crossed for a callback.
It was time to take control of my future. Here are a few things I did to stay one step ahead in the job hunting game.
1. Visit as many careers days as possible and take contact details:
At first, I used to think career days were a bore, and quite frankly I wasn’t very sure what potential employers wanted to see in my CV so I left feeling quite despondent. However, in my final year of University, I decided to change how I approached Career days.
If you think about it, hundreds of students attend Career days with similar intentions, which are to share their CV and hopefully get a job or internship. Most Recruiters are looking for someone who stands out, shows creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and a passion to join the job market. Therefore, instead of just walking up to potential employers to talk about what I was studying with a vague idea of what I wanted; I engaged with the Recruiters, asking more questions about what the company does, how someone in my field of study could add value within their company and I asked each of them if I could plan a day to visit their offices and speak to someone in a similar department to get a feel for their company and the role. This is one smart way to get in the door, and also see if their work environment would be great for you and vice versa.
Secondly, I approached a wider variety of companies and Career days, including the ones in Finance although I was a humanities student. As mentioned in my last blog, being open to careers outside of what you studied will open more doors for you, and I did exactly that! Fortunately, this approach has continued to pay off. I started my career in the Tourism industry and have now evolved into working for an IT company, all of this despite having a Masters degree in Social Sciences-Why? Because there is room for everyone, reward comes not from being perfect but from being courageous. Use the Career day as an opportunity to create relationships and take Recruiters details and send a follow-up email with your CV, that might become useful down the line.
2. Stay Visible
I can honestly say having a strong online presence is key! In a world where everything has become so digital, giving Recruiters easy access to your professional details can help your career. Sometimes its the only resource Recruiters have to access you, so take advantage of technology to market yourself.
Use your bio to talk about yourself, your accomplishments and about your interests. A great great example of this would be to use would be LinkedIn to build your online presence.
From my discussions with other Recruiters, many of them agree that registering your information on platforms that allow you to maintain an online presence can really be the game changer to get you noticed. As a Recruiter today, I have interacted with hundreds of students (some of which we have employed) through job platforms such as LinkedIn or by viewing their blogs or programming work on relevant websites. Also if a recruiter gets hold of your CV and decided to search for more information online – it would be great for them to land on your online profile, blog page or your GitHub publication to find out more about you.
2.1 Subscribe to job boards
In the busy world we live in, it is becoming more and more important to work smarter not harder in order to get more done. Why not apply this to how you approach job hunting? For example, many job boards have developed awesome tools where you can subscribe for vacancies in specific locations to be sent directly to your mailbox. Similarly, many Universities/ Academic Institutions also have career pages you can subscribe to which means more job alerts straight to your mailbox! Take advantage of this to remove the stress on yourself- this will also save you lots of time; and as the saying goes, time is money.
3. CV is key
When job hunting, the one thing that introduces you to Recruiters and potential employers is your CV. As mentioned in my previous blog How to write a good CV “your CV is the closest thing to your brand, it’s the one thing that will represent you and shows your personality, achievements and highlights before you even walk in that door for an interview- so the same effort and enthusiasm we use to manage and brand our social media needs to be employed when drafting a CV or creating a professional profile.” Therefore make sure your CV highlights your experience and achievements and of course, clearly points out your contact details. In many occasions, a poorly written CV has stopped many applicants from getting a callback or an interview. Avoid typos, different fonts, and lengthy CVs.
4. Be proactive!
In my career as a Recruiter, I cannot count the number of employees who have managed to secure an interview simply because they went the extra mile to get in touch with us to discuss a particular vacancy and how they can add value. Obviously, this isn’t an invitation to contact a company repeatedly, but if you do some research and think you stand a chance, why not apply and give them a call? At the end of the day, information is empowering, and establishing contact to know how far you are in the process can help you know what to do next.
It might also be useful to establish a “contact” on the inside to help your application stand out. Remember what I said about building networks in my previous blog? If you have a friend/network at a company you have applied for, why not ask for a referral? I applied this method to land my first job in Tourism, and it is still a technique I use when I am job hunting.
5. Do your Research and stay prepared
What separates a good candidate from an average candidate is one who is inquisitive, asks questions and of course, one who does research to understand the company they are potentially interviewing with.
When I started job hunting, I started making a list of companies I had applied to and wrote a few notes about each company, what role I applied for and what makes me a good candidate for the position. This helped me stay prepared for any phone call or interview that might come up. As the saying goes, ‘you do not get a second chance to make a first impression’, so impressing your potential employer is extremely important. The one thing that could stand in the way of you getting a call back is whether or not you are prepared when the recruiter calls- know about the role, the company and if they ask, know what you would like to earn- yes, even that is important!
I hope these tips will help you feel more confident about your job search journey. The most important one being, stay prepared! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave comments below.