Put yourself out there (while staying in): tips on graduate job hunting

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Put yourself out there (while staying in): tips on graduate job hunting

This is a tough year to be a student looking for graduate jobs, with record redundancies, cancelled internships and a 23% reduction in entry level jobs. But while the landscape may have changed, there is a lot you can do to get noticed. We spoke to Tanya de Grunwald, author of How to Get a Graduate Job in a Pandemic, about managing expectations, building online networks and how to find work in the graduate market.

Network online

Recreate the sense of getting out there and making contacts by attending webinars, virtual careers fairs and workshops. Try and get involved – don’t just switch it on and get up to make a cup of tea. Turn your camera on, make notes and ask questions at the end. You can then email people afterwards and say that you are the person who asked a question, that you are really interested in their company and ask if they or anyone on their team have 10 minutes free for a quick Zoom call.

Most of these events are free and you just have to pre-register. There only needs to be one interesting person on a panel for you to get something out of it. There are also lots of free training opportunities online, with companies such as Ernst & Young and Vodafone hosting workshops specifically aimed at young people.

Start researching

One of the big mistakes that students make is jumping straight to the job application stage without immersing themselves in what’s out there. Listen to industry podcasts, join relevant Facebook groups and follow business leaders on Twitter. Be a part of the conversation by looking at what people are tweeting and what is being said in the comments below. You will gain a sense of what the people in the industry are really thinking.

LinkedIn can be useful. Although it is becoming less formal, it’s still a professional platform, so try not to reach out to people unless you have a real reason to do so – for example, if you’ve read an interview they’ve done and have some questions you’d like to ask. Use it to absorb, learn and get into that businesslike state of mind.

Include practical examples in your CV

In the coming years, you will see employers being a lot more understanding and asking more skills-based questions in interviews. Questions might be along the lines of “how did you keep motivated during difficult circumstances?” or “how did you help others during these times?”

With work experience and internships currently hard to come by, demonstrate your practical experiences on your CV instead. You may not realise it, but you have probably done things that are impressive. If you’ve helped out with younger siblings, done the shopping for your grandparents or helped at a food bank, put it on your CV. Emloyers will understand that your cohort are going through a very different time, and won’t expect you to be exactly like the graduates before you.

Don’t worry if you can’t find your dream role

Shift your focus from finding your dream job to working for a company that may offer transferable skills. Future employers will understand why you took that first position. One of the smarter ways to find jobs is to join Facebook industry groups, as there are often people advertising roles in a more informal way than on an official jobs board. They tend to need people quickly, unlike graduate scheme roles, which can take up to six months. If you do get an interview and find a role that you like the look of, use your university careers service to help with interview practice and to look over your CV.

Pick a winner

Although lots of industries are doing badly, some are doing extremely well at the moment. For instance, this is a really interesting time for renewable energies, online retail and biotech, all of which are growing sectors. Even if those industries sound quite techie, there are always roles in sales, HR and marketing that could suit you. Now is not the time to be in a sector that is struggling, such as hospitality or aviation.