Are you frustrated with putting all your effort into writing applications and getting no response? Ghosted. I totally get how disheartening this can be. It hoovers up your confidence and after a while of no replies and rejections, it’s easy to give up and take any job, rather than pursuing your chosen career.
When you finish studying at university, you quickly realise that you have to get good at marketing yourself if you want to secure a career job you really want.
You have so many skills, qualities and great experiences gained from your education, part time jobs, volunteer work, sports, societies and other activities. You’ve learned how to work in teams, how to organise your time effectively, solve problems, work under pressure and learn from setbacks along the way.
But how to you get that across in a way that employers understand and see value in?
What exactly are they looking for?
And there are so many other graduates out there now which makes it seem overwhelmingly competitive.
You dream of taking the first step in your career, in a job that you love and that will allow you to use all these amazing strengths and skills. A job in which you’ll enjoy making a difference and continue learning and developing. You’ll earn enough money to move out of your family home and start living the independent life you crave.
But you’re anxious that you might have to compromise on what you really want and take any job that will bring some money in and get your parents off your back.
I’m here to tell you not to give up on your dream job. It can be yours.
Here are 5 tried and tested top tips to get a graduate job. They'll help you find the right job and to stand out in the overcrowded market.
1.Be active and professional on LinkedIn
Putting together a short headline and 'about' page is a great start, and will give you a foundation to build on as you progress in your career. Most of this can be content from your CV and anything else you feel would add value, for example dissertation or extended project details, extra detail on specific work experience, and interests.
Invite all your friends and family to connect with you and then start liking and commenting on posts you find interesting.
If you’re trying to take your first step into a career, such as marketing, where social media savviness will be highly sought after, it’s a smart move to build followers on other platforms too.
You’d be surprised how many employers use social media profiles to get a first impression of candidates before interviewing them, so showing that you’re a responsible person on these may well help you open doors.
Many employers rely on word of mouth to source candidates so reaching out to your network is a no brainer. Your connections on social media, friends and family may well work for organisations who are hiring and have just the right vacancy for you.
Most large companies now have referral schemes where if employees put forward someone for a position and they are recruited, they get a bonus.
3. Pick something you really want to do and apply to employers direct
Pick a career you really want to aim at and head straight to relevant company websites. You can get a good feel for their culture and what it’s like to work there, what vacancies they have and how to apply. Don’t forget to note deadlines. Focusing on one type of career only will make it easier for you to build industry and sector knowledge, helping you come across as clued up and motivated in applications and at interview.
4. Tailor every application to the role
Whether you’re asked to send a CV and cover letter or to complete an application form, it’s vital that you take the time to focus on the role and match your skills and experience to the job description. Sending generic information, in a blanket approach just so that you meet your target of 30 applications a day will get you precisely nowhere.
This might feel like a total pain, but quality over quantity will win hands down. Employers want to know why you want to work for their company, what interests you in this role, and why you’re the perfect fit.
Reading up on the company, finding out what they do and the sort of clients they have will really help you write an application that shows a genuine interest in the company. It will be a complete breath of fresh air to the application screener who has just read 50 dull, boring and untailored pages of writing.
You don’t need to start everything from scratch though. If you’re asked to send your CV, you can just tweak and re prioritise details for each role you apply for.
5. Upskill yourself
With the huge number of graduates looking for work at the moment, you can’t rely on your degree and A levels to differentiate you from the crowd.
Have a look at the details of the job you’d like to apply for and find ways to ensure you can tick every single skill, quality and experience required. Make a skills shopping list and work out how to bag these. It could be volunteering in your local foodbank, befriending an elderly person, designing a website and selling stuff, finding a geek to help you (if you’re not one already) and making an app or starting an investment portfolio.
If all this seems overwhelming and time consuming, please get in touch. I've helped hundreds of people just like you, to find a graduate job they really love. Call me on 07971511731 or email
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My son had an interview last week. It was for a job as a creative copywriter in an advertising agency. He was asked to prepare a pitch in response to an advertising campaign brief and present it to the creative team. A great way to test out potential for success in the role. I liked them already.
This was a dream job and Jordan spent serious hours analysing the brief, thinking of insights, crafting words.
We were on holiday whilst he was working on this and kept in touch, mostly encouraging him to take the odd break from his laptop over a 5 day period.
As loving, concerned parents, we were somewhat distracted from our walking and biking in Snowdonia, knowing that Jordan was working his socks off in the hope of landing this amazing opportunity to work with teams of experts in the field, learn and develop his craft. We were desperately hoping that his creative juices ran freely and he’d be able to come up with something he was proud of and that would impress and engage his audience.
He called us shortly after he’d presented his campaign ideas, saying he thought it had gone well. They liked lots of his content and one slogan had even made them laugh.
We asked when he expected to hear back from them and he said:
He’d asked what time frame they meant by this, and they repeated, ‘Soon’.
Soon! What does that mean?!
Think about the effect you have on your candidates – and their parents
Of course, from then on, Jordan was checking his emails every 5 minutes and our holiday became the vehicle to discuss, at length, all the possible interpretations of the word ‘soon’. Was it today, this week or next week?
How were we to enjoy our remaining holiday with this conundrum hanging over us?
It was impossible to switch off and fully enjoy the views from Snowdon, when we were obsessed with the word ‘Soon’.
With this frustration in mind, when I was running an interview skills training session with a group of business owners yesterday, one of the first things I asked them to do was to commit to a time scale to get back to candidates.
Please be specific – you may be ruining someone’s holiday
It turned out that ‘Soon’ meant: in 6 days time. Unfortunately, it didn’t go Jordan’s way. He was disappointed but not defeated. At least he could now get on with developing his portfolio further and applying for other jobs.
If you’d like to improve your interviewing technique so that you never leave anyone hanging, please get in touch. Call me on 07971511731 or email