Jobs & Careers

12 tips to find the perfect graduate job

It's a tough old job market out there, but that doesn't mean kick ass graduates can't find the position they deserve. We're here to help!jobhuntingAlright, we're not going to lie to you – finding a graduate job can be tough. However, with government figures showing graduate unemployment levels are now at their lowest in almost ten years, it turns out there was light at the end of that bleak global financial crisis tunnel after all – but it's not all rosey!

There's still a huge amount of competition out there, which means employers can afford to massively tailor their employee requirements.

It's not all just about uni grades, either. Finding new ways to make yourself more employable is just as important, like getting a free online qualification in something unrelated to your degree, volunteering or even going travelling for a while.

The right job is out there waiting for you, and we've compiled some awesome tips to help you get there.

Top tips for finding a job

  1. Save money whilst looking for a job

    Cat sitting on cash pile
    Just because you don't have a grad job yet doesn't mean you can give up on trying to save until you have a proper income. There are only so many times your parents will bail you out!

    Try finding a part-time job to earn some cash and keep you ticking over while you look for an opportunity to get on the career ladder.

    Bar and restaurant work are good options as you can work evenings, leaving you free to attend interviews and search for jobs during the day (and the tips are normally pretty good too!).

    Money will inevitably be tight, but you do still need to live a little. Make the money you do have stretch further by using student deals whenever you can (graduates still count!) and use our practical guide to saving money to keep you on point with saving!

  2. Upload your CV to job sites

    comicsansIt's not only people like you looking for jobs who use job sites, employers often search them for potential new employees too.

    There is a chance that a future employer could come across your CV on a job site and realise you're precisely the candidate they're looking for, so don't miss out on this opportunity!

    Creating a profile and uploading your CV can take a while, but it's worth it. There are dozens of job sites out there, including our very own bundle of joy, Save the Graduate.

    You should 100% be uploading your CV to your LinkedIn profile as well and keeping this as up to date as possible. You wouldn't believe how many employers use LinkedIn to snoop on potential candidates!

    We have a complete guide to using LinkedIn to nail that dream job – check it out here.
  3. Join a recruitment agency

    jobThere are thousands of recruitment agencies all over the UK, many of which specialise in graduate recruitment. Recruitment agencies are paid commission for filling a company's vacancy, meaning they're great to have on your side as they want to get you a job almost as much as you do!

    There are loads of pros to using a recruitment agency to help land your first job (as you can imagine, there are cons to using them too!). Our guide to getting the most out of recruitment agencies will fill you in on everything you need to know.

  4. Tailor your applications

    specialistMost jobs will require that you submit an awesome cover letter and equally impressive CV when you apply. While it might be tempting to just dish out the same documents to each job DO NOT DO THIS OR WE'LL SHOUT AT YOU IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

    It's not just about giving a clear picture of who you are and what your experience is, but it's also about showing how much you think you are perfect for this specific role at this particular company. The key to getting called for an interview is to tailor your cover letter and CV to the job in hand, so study that job spec long and hard!

    This doesn't mean you have to create an entirely new CV each time. Save your previous efforts, with a file name that makes clear which role the CV fits and you can alter the information to suit each specific role.

    Saving your previous letters and CVs will also help you to figure out what approach works best and keep track of your progress.

  5. It's not what you know, it's who you know

    doiknowyouThousands of job vacancies are filled each year through word of mouth, so use this to your advantage. If you know someone who works for a company you're interested in, get them to recommend you.

    Many companies now offer a bonus to employees if they put someone forward for a position and they are recruited, so you could even earn someone a little extra cash.

    If you don't know anyone working at a company you're really keen to work at, that doesn't mean you can't get to know them before you apply. Take a proactive approach and get to know the right people! Might sound a bit creepy, but social media is a great way to connect with important people, so be sure to check out our guide to getting this bit right.

    Find businesses you can see yourself working for and call them to see if they have any vacancies at the moment or if they know of any vacancies that may arise in the near future. Always ask to be put through to HR as the person who answers the phone may not give you the correct information.

    We have a whole list of smarter ways to look for a job that you've probably never thought of – check them out here!
  6. Research, research, research

    Topic ResearchSo you've been invited for an interview. Congratulations, and don’t panic! The first thing to do is sit down and do plenty of research on the company as well as your role-to-be.

    This is the key to a good interview – you should know so much about the company that you're answering questions like you already work for them!

    In the run up to the interview try not to get nervous. Think of it as a way of gaining interview experience rather than the real thing. Always dress smartly for an interview and arrive 10 minutes early. We have loads more interview preparation tips for you here.

    Although it's hard try to be as confident as possible during the interview, you want to come across as an outgoing and knowledgeable person who would fit into the existing team.

    If your interview does not go too well just put it down as experience and try again. We can also pretty much guarantee that it won't have gone as bad as you think!

    Wondering what you'll be asked on the day? We've got a list of the most commonly-asked interview questions, and the best way to answer them!
  7. Make sure the job is right for you

    perfectmatchWe're not likely to shock you when we say that finding a good graduate job can be difficult. You may find yourself applying for as many jobs as you can find even if they're not exactly what you want.

    When you are offered a job, make sure it's a role you can actually see yourself doing (and enjoying at least a little bit!) within a company you'd genuinely like to work for. Don't just accept an offer because a job's a job and that's that. You've been working hard for years at uni to get where you are – don't sell yourself short!

    If you have any reservations regarding the role, see if you can get any answers before you move forward. If your doubts persist, go with your gut and decline the job offer.

    There are plenty more jobs in the proverbial sea, and the last thing you want is getting your career off to a rocky start!

  8. Go back to uni instead!

    happy-graduate
    If the job hunt isn't panning out as you expected and you've been left with a bad case of the post-graduation blues, it might be worth contemplating postgraduate study.

    From August 2016, the government will be offering postgraduate loans for UK students looking to do a Master's Degree. Woohoo!

    Of course, this will mean more student debt for you to accumulate, so it's worth thinking long and hard about whether this is the right option for you.

    We have all info you need in our complete guide to the postgraduate loan right here!

  9. Social media y'all

    socialmediaEveryone loves lazing around on Facebook, Twitter and whatever the social media flavour of the month is, but why not turn your time wasting into a genuine job-landing technique?

    Clean up your privacy settings, set up some professional profiles and get connected with some important people in your industry of interest. You'll also find a lot of opportunities are advertised on social media too.

    We've got a whole guide to social media job hunting as well, so make sure you check it out.

  10. Don't forget the little guys

    sillicone valleyOkay, just to establish – we're not talking about the Borrowers here. We're talking about the often-overlooked option of catering your job search specifically to much smaller startup companies, rather than large multinationals or companies big enough to fund graduate schemes.

    While it's totally ace if you do get a job at the BBC or working for Tesco Bank, often the competition for entry level jobs at smaller companies is lower because it's not the first option graduates think of.

    The experience you can get working hands-on in a startup environment is also really invaluable, and you could even find yourself with way more responsibility than you would do at a larger company. In turn, you could find yourself leapfrogging into a more senior position much earlier on in your career than you expected!

  11. Broaden your horizons

    biggerhorizonOkay, so we know we just said that you shouldn't take a job unless it's 100% a right fit for you (and we still stand by that), but it is worth assessing what it is you're actually looking for in the first place.

    If you're not overly fussed about relocating, perhaps consider broadening your job search to the whole of the UK instead of just those in your patch.

    Think also about whether there are jobs you could be interested in trying that might not be directly related to your degree. It's really common for graduates to end up in roles that are nothing like what they expected they'd be doing when they started uni, but this is all part of the excitement!

    Broaden your job searches, do research into new roles appearing in the job market, and don't be afraid to apply for something totally new if you think you have something to offer.

  12. Keep yourself busy

    doallthethinsgIf you find yourself slowing down and watching recordings of the Hollyoaks omnibus you've already seen in the middle of the day, it's pretty clear you're not working hard enough.

    The fact of the matter is that job hunting will take time, so you need to keep yourself occupied with career-focussed activities in the meantime to keep you motivated.

    Not only does this keep you from going insane, it also shows employers you're dedicated to establishing your career and have a good work ethic.

    Consider work experience placements, voluntary work, free online courses – anything that will help give you the edge over other job hunters.

Hopefully you've have found our tips at least somewhat helpful! And more importantly, we hope you find that killer job soon (we believe in you). Good luck!

If you think we've missed a trick or just want to let us know your experience or successes – give us a shout in the comments below or get in touch with us directly.

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