Start building your brand
If you are reading this post you are likely to have already started this. My first piece of advice would be to get on LinkedIn, update your profile, write some posts, join some groups – connect with your previous bosses, your tutors, friends, colleagues and people you meet at careers fairs, networking events or even at interviews. People often share positions on LinkedIn before going to any agencies or job boards and I always ask my network for referrals when looking to fill a new position. If you are referred for a position your CV is more often than not at the top of the pile.
Revisit and check your social profiles, google yourself using incognito search, and see what is out there about you in the public domain. People are often amazed at how many, lets just say ‘unprofessional’, photos, videos or comments come up associated with their name. Many employers will run a quick search on the final few candidates to try and find out a little more about them – make sure you are controlling your brand!
Get some work experience
A degree is no longer enough to make you stand out. You need to demonstrate more than just academic ability. Whether this be bar work, retail experience, cleaning, whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Show potential employers something more than your degree on your CV. You may think these are not related to your dream job but they are actually your chance to tell me as an employer a few things about you; primarily that you have a work ethic, you have good time management skills, you have customer service skills, you can study and work, successfully balancing priorities – the list goes on.
And if you can’t find a job – volunteer, start blogging, fund raise. Give employers something to ask about when they interview you.
Do the job before you get the job
Create your own luck. If you want a job in international exhibitions, organise an event at your local Student Union. At interview and on your CV you can show you’ve dealt with venues, promoted ticket sales and organised the logistics of putting on an event. If you want a job in digital marketing, write some articles, create some content, showcase your work – the topic is almost irrelevant – it could be for the university, for a social club, or for whatever your passion is. If you don’t have relevant experience for your dream job – get creative and get some.
Practice psychometric tests
This is a very popular method employers use to reduce the first round of applicants down to a more manageable number. Although everyone should answer the tests honestly, there is definitely an art to these tests – and the more you practice the better you will get. There are many online practice tests you can take.
Recruitment Advice – At Interview Stage
Know what the company does
At 99% of interviews you will be asked a variation of the ‘Tell me what you know about Company X’ question. This isn’t necessarily a test of your knowledge about the inner workings of the company – it is a question that measures your motivation. The good candidates answer demonstrating they have read the information on the company website, but the best candidates include something about the challenges facing that particular sector, reference some current market trends or even mention some recent competitor activity. Do your research!
Know your competencies
From any job advert you should be able to put together a list of competencies that the company is looking for. Creative, organised, tenacious etc. Pull out the buzzwords and competencies mentioned in the job spec and have a story ready for each one before you go to the interview. This is not just for graduate interviews but for every interview you attend in the future.
People remember stories, if they remember your stories, they remember you.
If you can quantify the examples given in your stories – even better. I recommend using the STAR model;
Situation – Describe the circumstances that make the accomplishment notable
Task – Was the task complex? Was it critical to the business or project? Were you operating under resource limitations (e.g., time, money, resources)?
Action – Describe the activity you performed to achieve or influence the end result. e.g. saved processing time by developing and implementing a new billing program.
Result – Describe the result of your action and its impact. e.g. did you help win a new customer, or solve a customer problem, or increase customer satisfaction?
How does this separate a good answer to one the interviewer will remember? Here is a simple example;
Interviewer “Tell me about your fundraising skills?”.
Answer #1 “I was involved in lots of fundraising at university and once raised over $700 for good causes”
Answer #2 “I was working on a fundraising project and I was challenged to raise $500 in 1 month. Previous students had only ever raised a maximum of $400 but I wanted to exceed that. I decided to combine my individual fundraising with corporate sponsorship. I approached several local businesses with a connection to the university, such as staff who had attended the same university, and they offered to sponsor me too. I was able to smash my initial target and raised over $700 for good causes.”
Spot the potential STAR answer!
And please arrive on time for the interview
This should not really need including but unfortunately turning up late is more common than you think. It doesn’t really matter how great you are in the interview, if you arrive late, you cannot make a second first impression.
Good luck with with the job hunting this summer.
(With thanks to Wendy Melville)