Graduating towards success

PUBLISHED: 15:53 06 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 May 2010

WHETHER you re a student in your final year, a recent graduate or a graduate finishing a gap year, getting a job is likely to be one of the biggest things on your mind at the moment. So, as you prepare to enter the jobs market, it s important to remember

WHETHER you're a student in your final year, a recent graduate or a graduate finishing a gap year, getting a job is likely to be one of the biggest things on your mind at the moment.

So, as you prepare to enter the jobs market, it's important to remember that you're facing more competition than ever, as the number of graduates grows each year - no matter how good you think you are.

There's no need to despair, but equally, don't assume jobs will fall into your lap. Make sure you're well prepared before beginning your search.

The first step is to ensure that you're applying for the right job - give yourself time to plan and explore all the possibilities. Start by establishing what your qualifications and abilities make you suitable for, and whether this tallies with the profession you have in mind.

However, many graduates end up in jobs which have nothing to do with their degrees, so until you're sure what you want to do, it's also wise to keep an open mind. If you need extra skills to snap up a particular specialised job, you'll need to postpone the job-hunt, and sign up for a post-graduate course.

Once you've decided what direction you want to follow, sit down and prepare before sending off any applications. This is the key to everything about job-hunting, from the initial application to coping with the first day at work.

If you still have access to it, make the most of your university's careers library. Local libraries often have recruitment sections too, while the internet is another good source of general information regarding your chosen field - as well as listing vacancies, which will give you tips on what employers are looking for.

Once your mind is made up, it's time to make a start on your CV, which is probably the most important part of your hunt for work.

It's no use being the best-qualified and all-round best person for the job if your CV isn't up to scratch. A dog-eared, ill thought-out scrap of paper, or a long rambly pile of information will inevitably go straight from your prospective employer's desk to the bin.

A lot of thought and effort is needed to create something which will do you and your skills justice, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't seem to be coming together at first.

Remember that a good CV is basically a marketing document, telling an employer what you can do for their firm, and why they would want to hire you.

Like any marketing information, it must be targeted and relevant to the position. No two people can ever agree on exactly how a CV should look, but to be in with a chance, keep it concise, positive and bright.

Finally, once you're armed with a sparkling CV, it's time to go job hunting. Fortunately there are more ways to find out about advertised jobs now than ever before.

National and regional newspapers are a great start to the hunt. If you are applying to a particular industry or sector, then keep an eye on the trade press for the latest industry news and possible job ads.

Professional organisations often advertise jobs on their websites too, so if you have a particular company in mind, get straight onto the internet to see what vacancies they have. There are also a variety of specialised websites listing various jobs, so have a look through what they offer to see if it suits you.

When you've found a position you want to apply for, always include a covering letter which is brief and to the point. If you're successful, you'll be offered an interview, which means more preparation is required.

Apart from looking presentable and turning up on time, it's important to find out as much about the company as possible and prepare questions to ask the interviewer - it shows you're keen and have put some thought into it.

Interviews can be a nerve-racking process, but just be yourself and be positive. Remember that your body language and posture will be noted by the interviewer so make sure you don't slouch in your chair and talk to the floor. And if you really want the job, say so!

It might all seem obvious, but it's surprising how many graduates, who often don't have too much experience of interview techniques, undermine their chances with sloppy presentation.

After this stage there are only two options - success, which means a job offer, or failure, which means a rejection letter. Getting turned down is never easy, but don't let it depress you. If possible, get feedback to find out why you weren't picked, and learn from the experience.

Above all keep trying and you will succeed!

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