Being at university during 2020 and 2021 was tough enough, but now you need to find a job. As much as your over-opinionated uncle claims you can ‘walk right up to the boss and say, “I’m your guy!”, it doesn’t really work like that anymore. So how does it work?
The job process
To get your foot into the door, you need a CV to send. One common misconception is that recruiters and those in HR actually read your CV. However, for many larger companies, this does not happen. In fact, many use software that pre-scan your CV. Ever got a rejection email at 2:45 am? That’s not Susan from HR – that’s their prescreen CV software.
What comes next in the job process depends on the company. You should expect at least one interview and or competency-based test along the way. Nonetheless, even finding the right job or getting your foot in the door can be the main challenge for grads. So, I’ve compiled 3 key tips below to help out my fellow grads:
- Realising what skill set you already have
- What is commercial awareness? Breaking down the buzzword
- Reject tradition, embrace modernity
- Realising what skill set you already have
As a recent graduate myself, the task of finding a paid role was daunting. Especially since I was in the mindset that I was competing with hundreds of others – those who had internships through family friends, those who didn’t go to university who now have professional work experience and so forth. Yet, what many of us don’t realise is that we already have skill sets we aren’t aware of. Employers aren’t necessarily looking for solid experience in their graduates.
If you have just graduated, you are most likely part of Gen Z. Compared to our predecessors, we’ve never not been immersed in technology.
[Unlike her, I was a whizz at WordArt and Paint by year 6]
As a graduate, you have been exposed to and used software that employers are looking for. The basics are your Outlook packages: Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. It is a given you’ve used them, and for some, mastered them. You have probably used social media before too – you understand engagement, posts and trends. This is another skill within your digital literacy. It is worthwhile to have a think about what other specific software you might have used in the past couple of years. Maybe even give your typing speed a check to subtly flex on your CV next time.
The soft skills
In a nutshell, think of soft skills as your non-technical skills. 97% of employers said soft skills are essential, yet, 54% of the employees say they have not included soft skills in their CV. Evidently, these play a key role in your job search.
The obvious examples might be that you can display teamwork through playing on your university’s netball team. Yet, your soft skills go beyond that. You have researched for your dissertation project, showcased time management through your deadlines, perhaps enhanced your administrative skills through being part of a university executive team. The options are endless, and as long as you have evidence to back it up, you’re set up for success.
2. What is commercial awareness? Breaking down the buzzword
Now enough of the self confidence boost. You may have come to the realisation that you are a master of many skills but there are still areas you need to work on. Most importantly, everyone’s favourite buzzword: commercial awareness.
However, Google-ing and grasping the definition of commercial awareness is not sufficient, putting it into praxis is.
Not literally, just… internet-ly. LinkedIn is a good place to check a company’s contemporary updates – some tend to have either outdated websites or websites that only cover basic updates. Knowing specific details about a company’s place in the landscape of their industry… get ready to sign that contract.
[Joe from You was clearly about that grind]
Learn the buzzwords within the buzzword
Learn the lingo of the field you’re interested in. Solely knowing about the company you are applying to can only get you so far. For instance, say you want to take on a marketing role. You’ve researched the latest company updates, work culture and CSR policy.
Yet, what comment can you give on the general landscape of the industry? As soon as you throw in an ‘SMS’ ‘Google Analytics’ and ‘SEO’ – you sound like you know what you are talking about. In fact, this little trick is great if you’re in a pinch. Sounding like you know your way around the field, understanding the basic concepts, shows a willingness to learn. Or help you fake it til you make it.
3. Reject tradition, embrace modernity
Most importantly, it is paramount to remember that for many graduates in our current climate, we might not need or have to follow the traditional path. You do not specifically need to get a summer scheme at firm x, then become a junior and then senior at the same company.
Instead, a good way to get started in your career path is to think a bit outside the box. One way in which you can do this is by working in a startup. Startups often provide internships and junior positions that don’t require tons of experience – great for grads.
Moreover, you don’t have to get into the field you want straight away if you can’t find the right opportunity. Open your horizons! To become an operations lead, a temporary customer service job will help you build transferable skills. Alternatively, you might really enjoy working at a startup, and decide you prefer the work culture it sustains rather than your original career path. It’s good to get a taste of occupations you haven’t considered before; why buy an ice cream before asking for a sample?
If you’re rearing to go, check out the websites/resources below: