A little insight goes a long way
On the one hand I was filled with excitement and on the other a sense of trepidation of venturing away from everything I knew. I was no different to the many graduates I help today – many uninformed, a little naïve and maybe a little idealistic about how everything will pan out. The reality is that early careers can be really hit-and-miss without a bit of research and planning and, moreover, some insight from those in the know.
My first tip to any graduate is get valuable work experience early-on to start building your knowledge and connections in your area of interest. There is no excuse for being completely green these days at the start of your career when if you show some initiative and pick up the phone and ask for help, it will be given to you. And if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!
Personalising your account
Most graduate CVs are pretty straight-forward but lack a personal touch and an understanding of how to couch your personal attributes in a manner that employers will appreciate. With limited experience, you need to be able to articulate and evidence what makes you tick and how you stand tall in your environment. It doesn’t matter which retail job you hold down, or what sport you are playing, you have the opportunity to demonstrate reliability, hard work, teamwork, initiative and problem solving skills. Even senior professionals need help writing about themselves in applications, so don’t worry if you don’t have the writing skills to articulate your case. The market is full of career writers for a very good reason - most people are not good at writing about themselves!
Couching and evidencing your attributes
Most graduates have a long list of adjectives to describe their very long list of competencies but often, they are simply a generic list with no evidence to back up their claims. Consider how you might couch and evidence what you believe are your strengths.
Here are some examples of narrative that you might use in your cover letter:
Work ethic: I grab every shift offered to me because I don’t want to be a burden on my parents financially or end up with a sizable HELP debt at the end of my study. I also want to make sure that I pull my weight at work. It is important to me that management and colleagues respect me professionally for doing a good job.
Reliability: No matter what, I show up for work because I know everyone else carries the strain when I am absent. My manager has repaid my reliability with a permanent part-time job which has been invaluable in funding my way through university. My manager would be more than happy to provide a reference for my work because we have built a great working relationship together.
Nothing gives a job seeker more confidence than knowing you have the tools at your fingertips to start applying for jobs. Once you have a well written template, you can adapt and adjust it to specific roles of interest. Make sure that you double check the content and have an independent party review your application before it is sent out. Nothing looks shabbier to a recruitment agency or employer than an unchecked, error-riddled application. We click through hundreds of applications each week. Above all we want a well written, interesting to read account of you, where it is clear that due care and consideration has been taken.
Customisation is critical
It’s not that hard to show an employer that you have actually taken the time to research their website, corporate plan, marketing collateral or media announcements and incorporate it into your application letter. Each company is industry-specific with different values, objectives and ways of communicating with their staff. Nothing impresses an employer more than seeing young people research and comment on aspects of their business that are of particular interest.
Most graduate applications fail to link to the employer in any way and this is a missed opportunity to impress. Every assignment you did at university critically analysed and made relevant observations on the topic to support the case you were making. Employing the same tactic in tailoring job applications is a fundamental opportunity for backing up your case when presenting your credentials to an employer.
A well prepared job application is the first step in the process of securing interviews to gain employment. It is also your blueprint for a confident articulation of your skills at interview because it provides you with a script to talk to so you don’t have awkward silences or incoherent, mumbling sentences.
The best piece of advice I can give any young graduate is to have your first job application professionally written. The hardest thing you will ever do is write about yourself when you have little experience or achievements to talk about. Blue Sky Careers specialises in these services. We interview you to understand what interests you, where your true passion lies, how you form and sustain friendships, how you build loyalty in the workplace, what sort of experience you have and how this can be expanded further. We can look at you objectively and develop a baseline document for all future applications.
The degree is only the start of the journey, the job application process is something that you need for your entire working life as you move from role to role in your search for career fulfilment.
Happy job hunting!