Graduate Job Tips | In a Changed Employment Market

Take Risks: If you win you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise

The dynamics of the labour market have changed in the last generation. More and more people are graduating from university which has expanded the pool of skilled workers. This article will explore some of the best and unconventional graduate job tips to help you build your dream career. Perhaps in response to an increase in the number of job applicants holding degrees and also in reflection of forced compliance to pay workers the national living wage, employers are demanding higher standards from workers

After all, if the government is forcing firms to pay higher salaries then firms expect more bang for their buck and with a constant stream of graduates each year – employers can keep increasing expectations! This has meant that employers can be much more selective in who they recruit. Many graduates are surprised by the amount of competition for jobs and struggle finding suitable work and often settle for lower salaries than expected

This article will detail some tips for job seeking graduates to give you that competitive edge in your career

Graduate Job Tip(1)

Differentiate Yourself

We start with an obvious but very important tip. It is not necessarily enough to be the best candidate, sometimes you have to be as good as other candidates but also stand out of the crowd. If a company posts a job advert for a graduate position and receives 30-40 applications, you can bet your bottom dollar most of the CVs will be almost identical. Companies will crave someone to stand out from the crowd so lets have a look at how this can be achieved

Look to extra curricular activities that are relevant to your chosen career path. Maybe you can set up a not-for-profit website to educate people on how to manage debt issues, or you have used your initiative to give a presentation at a school or college. People always comment that the curriculum should change to teach students about taxes/mortgages, first aid, law etc so why not offer your knowledge to them by doing a visit for the day? It will look great in a supporting statement for a job interview

If you want to become a nurse you could write online blogs teaching parents basic first aid techniques. This could be extended by giving presentations at parent and toddler groups in your local area. Think how much this would make you stand out from other nursing graduates in an interview

Graduate Job Tip(2)

Recruitment Companies

Recruiters will sometimes invent vacancies on jobs sites just to get your contact information. When actively seeking a new role, most graduates will be asked “Have you got any interviews coming up?”, but did you know that this is a good way for recruiters to pinch jobs from you?

If you tell them, “yes I have an interview next week at Barclays bank for an analytical role”. They would likely contact Barclays and give them one of their client’s details who has more experience than yourself. If you tell them about your prospects it gives them a lead. So be very careful what you disclose to these people – the recruitment sector is very competitive, and many firms out there will use you as leverage

A further graduate job tip is to be tactful when asked about your current salary. Recruiters love this question as it gives them an idea of your actual skill set. So many jobs have fancy job titles now that no one actually knows what each other does! For recruiters, salary is an excellent proxy for determining your wroth in the labour market. The issue for graduates is that your current post may not be very well paid

When we asked our writers how they approach questions of this nature they advised to act like a politician. Answer the question without actually answering the question. A good approach is to state “I earn a salary very close to that being advertised”. By answering in this way, the recruiter is reassured that you are not taking a huge jump in pay but also should read between the lines that you are not going to disclose your financial position to them which should preclude them from asking further salary related questions

Graduate Job Tip(3)

The Interview

Portfolios: Take a folder or portfolio with you to the interview. It makes you look prepared. A good idea will be to print out the job description and highlight key points and make notes on them – even if these are not legitimate notes, it gives the impression that you have made an effort in reviewing the job description which the interviewer may have spent a fair amount of time preparing.
Be Tactful: Always ask about the composition of the recruitment process as early into the recruitment process as you can. You do not want to throw the kitchen sink at them in a telephone interview if there are two formal interviews thereafter. Always try to leave something for the next stage as employers will want to see you progress through the stages, not just recite the same things they have already heard in a previous interview

Plan For Tough Questions: Prepare for the predictable questions such “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses”. Your strengths should be relevant to the job description. Try not to use predictable and standard strengths such as “I work hard and I am good under pressure”. These things could apply to anyone – what makes you unique? Use your answer to tell them your strengths but also to say why you are different from the crowd. Really impress them by giving an example of when you have demonstrated each strength too. Remember, your interviewer wants to fill this position and you can make their job a lot easier for themThe weakness question is a tough one as you need to answer the question but do not want to put them off employing you. Try to use a weakness that is obvious to them such as “You have asked for 2 years experience and I do not meet that criteria but I have managed to do x, y and z which shows experience in other areas”. Your weakness is that you do not have the desired experience but they already know this from your CV. So you are answering the question but not putting them off hiring you. Make sure you have a back-up answer though as not all panels will accept this as an answer. Some will prompt you to criticise your personality for example. If you have to answer in this way then try to pick something that you have noted in the past and began to make changes on – always end these sorts of answers on a positive

Try not to come across as too desperate in the interview. They will want a candidate who looks like they belong in the position, not a chancer that is punching above their weight. An example of where candidates go wrong here is when questioned on expected salary. If the job advert is offering £25,000-30,000 try not to answer in a way that says you will be happy to accept the bare minimum (even if you are!). It gives a slight hint of desperation and also suggests to them that maybe you are happy to take the minimum salary because you are not actually as good as what you say you are

There may be a text-book answer to questions like this but when our writers said they had been successful in interviews where they were asked this – they have responded by saying: “I think the middle (or top) of the range that you are offering as a fair salary for the skill set that you require for this post”. This is a professional answer and does not show any desperation, nor does it show greed.

Graduate Job Tip(4)

Template Letters & Multiple CVs

We promised non-conventional graduate job tips and here is a gem that a lot of people do not do despite it being an obvious one. When you apply for a position that requires a supporting statement or an optional cover letter – spend time writing one and then save it as a template to use over and over. Also, you should tailor your CV to each job you apply for

Don’t just send the same CV out to every job advert. Change your personal statement to appeal to the hiring company. Once you have done this you can save this CV and use it again for similar jobs. You will find that you may have 5 or 6 different versions of your CV. When you see a suitable job advertisement you can then choose which CV best fits the job description. This is a very simple graduate job tip but a very effective one – employers are not always looking for the most qualified applicant, they want to meet graduates that look like they will fit into the team well. Tailoring your CV can give the impression that you are a close match

Graduate Job Tip(5)

Master's Degrees

More candidates are realising that it was not as easy building their chosen career with their BSc degrees. An obvious solution could be to decide to study a masters degree as this will surely give you priority over other candidates right?

Well, maybe not. One thing many post graduates noticed after getting their masters degree is it put a lot of companies off hiring them. Masters degrees will help if you have some experience in the sector already and are looking for high quality positions. However, if you are applying for entry level jobs then companies could just look at your CV and say “well they have a masters degree, they won’t stay here long”.

Several of our writers confirmed that they was challenged several times in interviews and was asked “How do we know you are not going to come here for a year and then go off in a big bank with your masters degree”. Many believe that it would be desirable for companies to hire Master’s Degree holders but many of our writers claim that companies questioned their motives for applying for the position

If you are not sure on whether to study a masters degree – a good tip is to add it to your CV, apply for the jobs you expect to apply for if you had a masters degree and see what response you get. If you see a large increase in companies offering you interviews then it will be worth studying further. However, if companies are not getting back to you or constantly rejecting your application then you should question what value a masters degree would give you

If you decide to study, try not to study the same subject that you did at undergraduate. It is always good to learn a new subject that is closely related to your undergraduate degree but will not have so much overlap. This will expand the scope of jobs that you could apply for in the future and you will be learning new material rather than revisiting the same theory. A further advantage of this approach is if your career does not take the path you envisaged then your knowledge in two related but separate subjects could open more doors for you

We established that the labour market has changed and the supply of graduates has increased exponentially. Having a degree is not enough anymore so we have shared some graduate job tips to help you get the edge. We spoke about interview techniques such as taking a clear folder with the job description showing. Highlighting a string of words throughout the job description and making notes looks like you are very organised and prepared. Giving the interview panel a small portfolio of your work may intrigue them further

Putting extracurricular achievements on your CV will also help you stand out. We endorse performing talks and presentations in the community and also freelance essay writing to increase your knowledge in the subject relevant to your career. We evaluated the prospect of studying a Masters degree and showed how it can go against you at times. We suggested a strategy that will help see how valuable a masters degree would be to your career before you decide to study it

Finally, we gave some advice in dealing with recruitment companies as not all of them are there to help you. We showed how to approach some of their questions can be designed to catch you out. The final graduate job tip is to expand your knowledge horizon. There will come a time in most people’s career where they will manage to interview for a position that is a little above them and it is having a wealth of knowledge that may just impress the interviewer into taking a gamble on you. See our Books For Students guide to see suggested reading for your subject of study

Are you near the end of your degree and need to start your dissertation soon? We have an inventory of online dissertation topic proposals to help you decide what to base your dissertation on

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