When you reach your final year at university, suddenly you’re hit with the terrifying realisation that the real world is just on the horizon, and you need to decide what to do from here on out. For some people, that’s postgraduate studies, but for a lot of people, you want some cash. But in 2021, the job market just isn’t what it used to be, and it can be even more daunting to start applying and finding jobs. So here are our best tips for scoring a graduate job in 2021.
1. Don’t panic
If you are worried about life after uni, that’s understandable. But try not to panic. Everyone is in the same boat, and if you panic you’ll end up putting off things like CV building, and end up worse off for it. Plus, if you are proactive about your worries (which you clearly are, because you’re reading this!) then you’re doing everything you can do!
Panic can lead to a negative mindset, which has been proven to make reaching goals harder. If you’re panicking, you’re likely to miss things, forget about deadlines, etc. So clear your mind, and set out an action plan following these tips!
2. 7 skills to show off
According to TARGETJobs, there are a certain set of skills which employers are looking for the most at the moment, and those are:
- managing ambiguity
- emotional intelligence
All of these are relatively easy skills to learn, and most of us already have them! The hardest part is demonstrating them. The first two can be assessed through interview questions like ‘What do you think the biggest challenge of the job will be?’, by asking you to suggest solutions to certain situations, or by looking through your CV. Having worked part-time through your studies demonstrates this well. Similarly, creativity can be shown through font choice and layout on CVs, but you may also be asked ‘Are you innovative?’, or given brainteasers. Managing ambiguity is crucial for anyone looking to work in a fast-paced environment, and this can be tested in the same ways.
Ultimately, just make sure your CV shows off everything you have to offer, and think before jumping straight into interview questions!
3. No such thing as too much preparation
For any job, you’d be expected to have done some prep. For graduate jobs, especially in a competitive market like there is in 2021, this is even more crucial. You need to make sure that you’re putting yourself ahead of others, and the best way to do that is to research, prepare, and familiarise yourself.
If you’re looking for a job with a well known company, it is so easy to research what the company culture is like, how they socialise, how they treat their staff. All of this will help you in preparing for the job. You can also research what their morals and focusses are, and use these to target your CV more specifically.
Another important thing right now, is to research and be aware of the way in which both Brexit and COVID have affected your industry, and more specifically, the places you’re applying for. If you’re applying for John Lewis, for example, who have had to shut multiple stores, then you need to know which ones, and why. This will help to demonstrate that you’re proactive, interested, and self-motivated.
It is also important to research pay averages, so you know whether or not you’re being duped when you sign up and apply for jobs. And remember, salaries can be negotiated, you’ve just got to approach it well.
Whilst COVID seems to be at its end (fingers crossed!) a lot of companies have realised that they can save money by having people work remotely. This means, however, you may well be subjected to video interviews. You need to make sure you’re prepared for these. You will need to have a well lit area, a good webcam and microphone, no distractions, and a suitable outfit. First impressions still matter, even if they’re online.
You may also be asked to complete psychometric and aptitude tests, as opposed to the usual ‘, describe a time when…’ questions. These test your natural abilities, rather than your experience. These are likely to be online, so make sure you have good wifi and the time to do them if they come around.
Make sure you take every opportunity you can to make your CV stand out, whether that’s online courses, virtual volunteering, whatever!
Know who you’re talking to. If you are sending emails, avoid ‘to whom it may concern’, and find the name. In the interview, talk like you’ve got the job, exude confidence and know that you’ve got this.
4. It’s not just your CV that matters!
Whilst your CV is really important, there are other things that employers will look at too. And those are equally as important, as they show your potential employers who you are and what you stand for. Things like your LinkedIn and other socials, your cover letter, and any networking can really make the difference.
Whilst LinkedIn isn’t really a social media, we’ll include it for the sake of this. Your LinkedIn is so important when it comes to job hunting, whether that’s graduate or otherwise. You should make sure you keep it up to date, with the companies you like followed, all of your work and information on it, and a recent photo. If you have writing published, or artwork anywhere, or even got mentioned on your university’s website – post it. Everything you could possibly be proud of, whether it’s a small business, extra-curricular, or university work, post it.
On your other social media, anything that is open to the world, can and probably will be looked at by your employer. So if you don’t want people to see your depression tweeting at 3am, then private that account. Use your socials to show your humour, hobbies, anything that isn’t appropriate for a formal space like LinkedIn. Share things from your favourite charities, politicians, activists; demonstrate exactly who you are!
Your cover letter is arguably more important than your CV. It is what gets recruiters to read your CV, and is the first thing they see. Make sure it isn’t the only thing they see. TARGETJobs’ advice for cover letters suggests that you should always try and find a name to address the letter to, and avoid the ‘to whom it may concern’ trope. You should also be sure to sell yourself, tell them why they should pick you, and be confident. Don’t use ‘I feel that…’, ‘I try to…’, or ‘I may not’, fake the confidence if you don’t have it, and tell, don’t ask.
Networking is a scary concept that most people really don’t want to have to do, but the truth is, it helps. It really helps.
5. Look everywhere
When job hunting, it can be easy to become comfortable using one service, and then get frustrated when you can’t find anything. But the best way to find a job is to look everywhere. Sign up for every job app, Indeed, Reed, TARGETJobs, Debut, GBR, Creative Access, all of them! It may even be worth considering signing up for a recruitment agency. The more places you look, the more opportunities for the perfect job role.
That being said, don’t expect the perfect role to arise immediately. You may well be looking in the wrong sector. A lot of graduates try to associate their degree with their job, and more often than not it is more important to pay attention to the transferrable skills you have learnt in your degree and evaluate where you can repurpose them.
Overall, you need to sell yourself, expand your horizons, and keep up that Positive Mental Attitude. We recommend starting to job hunt as soon as possible, to get ahead of the curve. If you are ready, here are the top graduate jobs, and some more expert advice.