The graduates guide to the job seeker universe
According to government figures, the UK has seen the number of school leavers entering higher education dramatically rise from 19% in 1989 to 47% now, the biggest expansion of a university industry anywhere in Europe.
This creates an alarming disparity in the job market as there are simply far too many graduates for the limited openings in real graduate jobs. The latest official graduate labour market statistics show that almost one in three, 31%, of all graduates are not doing graduate – or high-skilled – jobs. Competition for graduates in the job market has never been more fierce, and while many expect to collect their diploma and walk into their first job, the truth is all too different.
Many will blindly cast their CVs into a job seekers black hole hoping for the best, but what is called for, what is essential, are specific techniques and strategies to get you to interview. Remember, that’s what a CV is for; it gets you to interview, after that it’s up to you, but the important thing is making your voice heard above the hundreds of others all shouting how great they are at the same time. So to get you started, noble class of 2016, are some things you need to do….right now. Some of these will seem overly simplistic, but they are often the methods that get overlooked.
What are the different ways I can search for a job?
Here are some basic guidelines that will help during your job search:
- Develop a strategy. Plan the steps you will take each day to conduct your job search. Treat your job search as a job in itself, a full 9 to 5 effort.
- Compile a list of possible networking peers. Write down everyone you know who may have a possible lead or connection and make contact with them to explain your circumstances. Set up an informal meeting when appropriate and/or send them your CV(s).
- If you don't know how a company searches its candidate pool, it is best to send all versions of your CV. This means attaching the document versions, and pasting the text version into the body of the email.
- Post your CV on the Web using major sites, so employers can find you. In addition, search the Web for open positions.
- Search for jobs in newspaper classified ads or visit newspapers' online websites.
- Research companies regardless of your field; review trade publications, journals, or newsletters if appropriate to your industry.
- Utilise recruiting firms, job centres or head-hunters to assist you in your job search when appropriate.
- Attend job fairs. Meet with industry professionals and distribute your CV.
- Check status of the position if you haven't heard from the employer. Many companies are just too busy to take telephone calls but you may get your name to the top of the stack by courteously checking.
- Once you have an interview, be sure to send a professional follow-up letter.
- Don’t be too proud to consider an unpaid internship. Getting your foot in the door while gaining valuable experience to list on your CV can be worth 10 times your first salary cheque.
What about social networking sites?
As social and career networking sites — and even personal Web pages — have become increasingly common outlets for establishing a relationship with hiring managers, it is important to remember that first impressions may begin online. Fortunately, your online identity can be an asset in your career development, and the following strategies can help ensure your "virtual" self remains an ally.
Start with a simple Google search. Any "friends" you have through social network sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc., may have their profiles public, which means your information is only as private as your network of friends make it. In particular, "tagged" pictures, comments about or from you, and other references to you may be accessed by a curious employer. As such, the safest strategy is to restrict online data about you to information that relates to your professional identity and career. If you become concerned about what you find, let your friend know and ask them to remove it.
Also, if you are not actively using your social network — or if your personal website is out of date — then it is not helping you in your job search. In fact, depending on the opportunity, it could be hurting your chances. Make sure that you update your profile with your current interests, career goals, and training to ensure that hiring managers can see the full breadth of what you have to offer.
Keeping a handle on your "online identity" is straightforward but does require a little work. By managing what employers see when they find your profile(s) online, you can be sure to make a strong first impression.
Remember, online networking is meant to supplement the job search, not replace other job search strategies. Nonetheless, some employers are impressed by active job seekers who have an online identity that has remained professional, positive, and up to date.
What is the typical timeframe to find a job?
The success of your job search is dependent on a variety of factors; geographical area, career track, industry, and CV exposure/distribution. It is important to treat your search as a full-time job if you are unemployed, to create a strategy, and to stay on task. It is also helpful to consult with your family and friends to ensure that you have a positive support group during this time. To relieve financial stress, you may want to consider using temporary employment agencies for short-term or part-time positions. Most of all, practice patience and persistence; landing a good job can often take months.
What if I am pursuing different types of positions or industries?
When targeting jobs that are significantly different, it is most effective to modify your CV and cover letter to reflect the skill set appropriate to each type of position. This is especially true when the skills are non-complementary, or when one target is hands-on and the other is management. Emphasising irrelevant skills may raise questions about your interest level. Rewriting your CV for appropriate emphasis on different skill sets will sell your abilities relative to the type of position you are pursuing.
Why do I need a professional cover letter?
The cover letter is an essential component in the job search process and serves as a personal introduction to an employer. This effective marketing tool is designed to support, augment, and enhance your CV. A cover letter submitted with your CV is vital to help you to stand out from other candidates.
How should I address requests for salary histories or salary requirements?
Employers use salary histories or salary requirements to screen out candidates. In order to address a salary request and present yourself in the most positive way, it is best to address this information in your cover letter. Salary requirements are unique to each person as they are closely tied to individual circumstances such as geographical area, career track, industry, or type of organisation.
If you are certain that your salary requirements match well with an organisation's expectations and compensation structure, you could include this in your cover letter if requested. If you are uncertain that your salary history or requirements are a close match, use language in your cover letter such as:
"With regard to salary, I'm sure you have a fair compensation program. My primary interest is in this company and the opportunity."
If they ask for a specific amount, give a broad number such as (15-30K). Make sure it is comparable to the average compensation for the area and industry in which you are applying.
Be sure you don't ignore the salary request entirely or you are likely to be screened out. The goal is to obtain an interview to determine if the position is a fit for you and the company, then salary discussions and negotiations can begin.
What is a follow-up letter and why is it important?
As you might imagine, a follow-up letter is sent following an interview. More than an ordinary thank-you letter, a follow-up letter strengthens the interviewer's perception of you and addresses any potential concerns he or she might have about the position being the right fit. Since there will typically be several top candidates for the position, each with various trade-offs regarding strengths and liabilities, a follow-up letter helps nudge that often difficult decision in your favour.
How do I choose a recruiting agency?
Utilising the help of a recruiter can be a great addition to your traditional job search. You can conduct a search on Google for the top recruiting sites / companies or look in the yellow pages for a local agency. When evaluating these services, inquire about the number of positions for which they recruit, and their specialty positions or industries.
So there you have it, a very basic guide to launching yourself effectively into your job search. Overall, have faith in what a good candidate you are, leave no detail unaddressed, no stone unturned, don’t give up, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to an undoubtedly glittering career.