Become a Work-Ready Graduate – Get Ahead of the Game
Whether you have recently left uni, you’re just about to graduate, or you still have several student years ahead, it’s never too early to think about your future. A good degree definitely gives you a huge head start, but well-rounded work-ready graduates will really stand out in today’s competitive jobs market. Here are 5 simple steps you can take now, to get ahead of the game.
Get some work experience
If we can offer one key tip, it’s to get some industry-specific experience under your belt (ideally while you’re still a student, with time on your hands and less pressure to start earning). These days, it can be tough to get a job without any! Two fifths of graduate recruiters warn that candidates without any prior work experience at all, are unlikely to be successful during the selection process.
But it’s not only for boosting your CV – whether you do a month’s internship, work shadowing days or a spell of volunteering, you’ll get a taste of working life and begin to understand what you like or don’t like, in terms of the type of job and industry, working environment and culture. It’s a great chance to try things and will help point you in the right career direction. Even you don’t enjoy the work, no experience is wasted – you will at least pick up transferrable skills and meet some useful contacts.
Find out here how to line up some productive work experience for your long uni holidays, or before you start your job search.
Create or update your CV
Keep a record of any work experience, projects, qualifications and extra-curricular activities so you don’t forget. Note down dates, company details, the skills involved, achievements and what you learned. Don’t worry, employers don’t expect new graduates to have much work history, but they will want to see your potential (and this is where work experience can help). Think about the valuable transferrable skills you have already gained from your degree course and projects, clubs societies and teams, volunteering and personal interests e.g. time management, teamwork, research and analysis, organisational and communication skills.
Prepare the basics so you can jump on any opportunities that come your way. Then make sure you tailor your CV to each company, demonstrating why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Have a professional presence
LinkedIn is widely used for social hiring and professional networking, so it’s important to have an active presence and make sure you can be found by prospective employers. (For creative industries, a personal website or other platforms such as Instagram will be equally important).
Your LinkedIn profile works like an online CV, so keep it updated with any relevant new achievements.
Once you have sorted your profile, start to grow your network. First, connect with people you know – family, friends, university contacts – who can then put you in touch with other useful connections. Follow influencers and companies in your chosen industry. Join groups and get involved – share interesting articles, ask questions, join discussions and begin to build professional relationships. A little effort now will reap benefits when you start your job search!
Perfect your social profile
A positive online profile is as important as a strong CV. Most companies use social media for finding and vetting prospective candidates, and they may seek you out before you have even started jobhunting! Not only will they view your professional profile (LinkedIn), but they are likely to check out your social accounts (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) to see if your personality and interests match their company culture and values.
So, be sure to create the best impression by cleaning up your online act – streamline your selfies, ditch inappropriate posts and fix your profile name etc. Just be careful what you leave in the public domain – make use of privacy settings! See our tips to make sure your social profile helps rather than hinders your chances.
Networking might sound scary, but it is really just about getting to know people who may help develop your career, and it is an invaluable tool. Over 80% of jobs are found through networking, so that’s a good enough reason to give it a go!
Approach it as fact-finding conversations to learn about individuals, professions and industries. People are generally happy to help, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or information; just be genuine and interested.
Make a start with people you know: family, friends, your tutors, careers advisers and alumni. Join relevant social media groups, attend university networking and industry events; the more you do the easier it gets! Read our tips on networking, with some helpful questions to get you started.
Whether you have recently graduated or you’re still a student, think of yourself as a budding professional – there is plenty you can do now to give yourself an edge and ease yourself into working life. Just get cracking, the sooner the better.