Considering how competitive the job market has become, strategies towards getting a graduate job are ever more important. 

Graduate Coach founder Chris Davies detailed for Silicon Republic how once upon a time, the number of graduates equalled the number of job vacancies. 

Nowadays, The Times Top 100 Grdaudate Employers, for example, are massively oversaturated. There are an estimated 650 applicants per job. 

With so much competition, it has become crucial that many graduates are ahead of the game to be more appealing than their competitors. 

While many will be feeling downbeat at the moment, they should think of this as a time of opportunity. 

As the impact of COVID-19 in the UK is reducing and normality is creeping back, so is the graduate job market. 

Until then, they must try and implement a strategy to boost their prospects, and when possible, to jump straight into interviews when hiring picks up again. 

#1. Improve during Lockdown

The first big point to any graduate is this: there is never a “best” time to apply for a job.

There may be a time bracket for graduate schemes used by some companies from September to January, but that will certainly not be the case this year. 

It is pointless to sit around idly waiting for the lockdown to finish before starting or resuming a job hunt. 

It is very likely that in any interview they have, they will be asked what they were doing/did during the lockdown period.

Some companies are still hiring and it is possible to be whisked into a video interview.

Instead of applying to jobs and struggling to think of how to fill time, be pro-active!

Wondering what can be done to self-improve? Do a course in a chosen industry (Udemy is a great website), work part-time, volunteer. All of it will count for something.

Can’t think of anything to do or advise? Read on below.

#2. “Have an idea of what you want to do”

It may sound like a simple concept, but indecisiveness in picking a career has delayed many graduates from applying to jobs. 

Read into graduate schemes, check which careers are paying graduates well and see what industries are developing. 

For example, the digital industry is moving very quickly as detailed by Chris Davies. Last year out of the 420,000 graduates who got a job, around 250,000 were employed in digital, tech and IT. 

The earlier people apply to certain companies the more beneficial it is in their favour. This is because they tend to eventually become overwhelmed with applications. 

A graduate must think about where their strengths lie. Are they a communicator and someone who would like to work in a client-facing role? Are they good with numbers and can be seen as an analyst? 

Instead of applying across many industries with no coordination, focus on finding what is right for the person in question. This will motivate them to really want the job instead of feeling lethargic or half-hearted about it.

#3. Aim to be known on LinkedIn

LinkedIn from a graduate perspective might seem unnecessary when they haven’t got a job title, but in fact, it is the opposite. 

They need to add their education, past work experience, a well fleshed-out CV and personal interest’s, as well as what they are seeking in a job. This will, from a recruiters perspective, see someone motivated and chasing a career they want.

Developing a network early on, such as connecting with people in an industry that a graduate is keen on, shows a genuine interest. 

It is also a place where jobs are advertised, and recruitment is especially prominent. By not being present on LinkedIn there is an awful amount one could miss out on!

#4. Don’t be afraid to seek advice

The point of a graduate coach is to be someone who you can approach with a query or to seek a suggestion. 

There is a lot of uncertainty right now in the job market and if someone is struggling to find a course to do or a job they want to apply to, seek help! It is best to adapt as soon as they can.

It isn’t embarrassing or lazy, it is showing a willingness to develop on your part through discovery. 

At Graduate Coach, we can offer help in brushing up a graduate’s digital skills. In #1 this is an industry we cited well worth looking at. 

The demand for SEO, Digital Account Management and Digital Marketing is on the rise and is well paid. 

Getting advice to help a graduate understand the job market, know how to develop critical skills and ultimately land a job isn’t a waste of time. 

#5. Perfecting an interview technique 

The worst about being a graduate is falling short in an interview for a job you really wanted. 

Most graduates have in fact been there. It is exceptionally rare for any grad to land their first job after the first interview.

But breaking this mould is crucial, doable and there has never been a better time to practice interviewing than now.

Know anyone who tends to struggle from anxiety and persistently worries about having to do an interview? This article from Graduate Coach’s website should help. 

Also worth noting; the majority of interviews at the moment are being conducted on Skype and Zoom.

It is an odd way to chase a job and probably not what a grad might have expected upon leaving university. 

Truth be told, if someone has prepared well it is arguably an easier way to land a job than the tensions of going in person. 

Treat them as if it was a real interview, being smartly-dressed and professional with a good background and internet connection.

#6. Ignore sensationalist headlines, there are still jobs out there

It is easy to be negative with the current mood of the media being generally unhelpful surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

But the truth is the world has not ended! There are blue-chip companies and startups recruiting again. 

See the mention of startups. It is not necessary to think that upon leaving uni you have to join the biggest global brands.

SMEs are generally keen to expand by hiring bright and motivated graduates, and usually do a much better job of training them. This is because they generally have time to do so, whereas in a big company a new graduate is another cog in the machine. 

In fact, it is likely preferable to aim to join a smaller company. It can give a grad crucial experience that will allow you, if they later wished, to make a move in a few years time to something bigger. 

So branching out a wider search to a set of smaller companies is wise. Even if it appears they are not hiring there is no harm in probing through an email to a director or HR apartment. 

Remember, this is showing interest that should hopefully impress those at the other end, particularly if the role has been properly researched. 

#7. Now is not the time to consider a Masters 

Many graduates will think the answer to the current scenario is to indulge in further education for a year.

The problem is this is nothing new and has become as common as a normal bachelors degree. 

Equally, the value for money a Masters will offer is not worth the price. Virtual lectures are hardly worth the financial input right nowt!

Virtually any graduate recruiter will be happy with an undergraduate degree, it does not overly boost one’s chances by turning up with two degrees.

Seeking work, even a graduate internship, will give a graduate critical experience that can help a future job change. A Masters will just see you competing with a new set of graduates in another years time. 

If a graduate actually needed a Masters in a certain line of work that company will usually pay for them to get one, whilst keeping them on the books!

Overall, graduates shouldn’t feel threatened by the current situation. Using this time to fill the “experience gap” is the best move. Upskilling in departments that will boost the CV and make them stand out in a job application is key.

If you worry about a graduate’s soft skills, then they should volunteer or find part-time work during this crisis that will show they are: 

  • A team player
  • Comfortable in a working environment 
  • Willing to do a hard graft 
  • A people’s person

Many graduates already have these skills but just haven’t worked it out yet. They need to think hard about their past and match what skills they have to certain scenarios. 

Most of all, it is about remaining confident! No one should stress because if you put your head down, work hard, the pieces will fall into place.

Written by Archie Everard

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