Graduating for university is a huge life achievement and can signal the start of a new career for many people. Whether you’ve just finished your degree or are already planning for the future, we caught up with Swinburne Online HR Consultant Martin Elliott to find out some top tips for graduates on the hunt for their first job.
1. Don’t wait for a job to be advertised
Action is key. Research the companies you think you’d like to work for and approach them before they advertise to the masses. Everyone in recruitment and HR appreciates a prospective employee who takes the initiative.
2. Get started early
Start approaching organisations approximately 6 months before graduating and follow up 8 weeks after your initial expression of interest to show that you are genuine. Don’t overdo it though. There’s a difference between being proactive and being intrusive.
3. Make sure your goals align
Before you approach a company, and spend hours carefully crafting your application, have a look at their mission statement, goals and values. These can be an early indicator of success around your cultural fit within an organisation and are great to use in your applications and expression of interest letter.
Employees that display true passion and commitment to an organisation’s mission, goals and values are hard to find. Skills can be taught. Intrinsic motivation cannot.
4. Tailor your application
You should always tailor your resume to the organisation you are applying for. Tell the reader why you truly want to work in their company. Highlight your strengths and any experience you have, but make sure it is relevant. A good HR practitioner can easily spot a resume that has ‘done the rounds’ and will put it on the bottom of the pile.
HR professionals are time poor, filtering through hundreds of applications for one position. Keep things clear and easy to read. Don’t include a photo or your date of birth. It’s not relevant and just adds to the potential unconscious bias that can exist in filtering candidates.
That said don’t be afraid to acknowledge in your cover letter you may not have as much experience as an organisation might be after. Candidates that are honest about this and then proceed to highlight how they can be of value in other areas will always capture my attention.
5. Network, network, network.
Get your name out there. Create a Linkedin profile, join groups, follow companies and relevant professionals. Call a few recruitment agencies, particularly those that may specialise in your chosen field. It’s their job to help you find yours.
Subscribe to relevant industry newsletters, they’re a great way to discover networking events that are happening and create some business cards that have your contact details and your area of study to hand out.
Also ‘Like’ organisations on Facebook that you want to work for. It’s a great way to keep updated on their achievements and opportunities.
If you are a current Swinburne student or recent graduate, you have access to a range of career development services via the Centre for Career Development.