A quick job search in my area is pretty grim; either the jobs are low level (cleaners, call centres, selling my organs and soul) or at the other extreme, seeking highly experienced people with years of experience in the sector. Graduates positions are fiercely competitive (I was one of ten thousand who applied for one position) and with little other jobs I found myself at a talk on how to find hidden jobs.
Unfortunately the good old fashioned approach of responding to adverts just doesn’t cut it any more, it’s all about networking and contacts nowadays. 70% of all successful candidates gained the job through networking which is definitely something I can vouch for. In my job as a sales assistant when new positions became available I recommended a friend who went on to work there for a year afterwards. Similarly I was put straight through to interview stage for a bookies and for work as a waitress before I’d even handed in a CV, purely because my friends who already worked there had referred me. On all these occasions I have always been offered the job because if someone already working in the company can vouch your credentials you’re more than likely to be chosen. Even now my role as a membership sales consultant for Energie Fitness was mainly due to networking. I was put straight through to interview stage once again simply because the owner knew the boss I was interning for at the time and put me forward as a candidate.
Referrals are all good and well, but only if you actually have network contacts in your chosen sector. Alas for most recent graduates like myself this is not the case, but fear not, here are a few handy tips. A simple name drop goes a long way, with 80% of successful candidates using this as their first point of contact. This is where a professional social network such as LinkedIn comes in handy as you can use it to research who works for your target company. You can then contact employees directly for advice and tips on the best way to apply. That way, when you approach the employer you can craftily and truthfully say “X says I should contact you, that you are a fantastic company etc.” You should also use LinkedIn as a professional network for your current and past colleagues and supervisors as they can endorse you for certain skills and experience. It’s also a great idea to use Graduate Connections, as you can contact previous students and ask about their experience and gain some advice if you are applying in a certain sector or at a particular company. Once you have a name drop target the employer directly and talk to them face to face if you can. This is a really effective method of putting a name to a face amongst hundreds (or potentially thousands) of CVs and also shows you are extremely keen. It’s also a great idea to attend meetings and conferences for specific companies so that you can gain a good knowledge of the company and it’s principles and goals. Knowledge is always power and reiterates your genuine interest in the company.
It is also a good idea to approach employers at job festivals and to always talk to them after their presentations if they have one. You can then follow them up and ask for work experience. If they are they impressed they are likely to choose you for internships or jobs over other candidates who they have had no contact with.Volunteering in a sector that you are interested in will also help to build you contacts, for example you may complete some marketing work for a charity to increase their reach which is a win-win situation for both of you ask it also builds up your portfolio. It’s also a great idea to showcase your work over the internet so that it is readily available for employers. For me, that is posting on my blog where I am now affiliated with numerous beauty companies. Make sure check your Facebook privacy settings too; put your profile on private so that if employers search your name (as they frequently do) they won’t see anything inappropriate. One of my friends recently lost a job offer after joining a (funny) but extremely inappropriate group on Facebook, but what employers can’t see won’t effect your chances. I would also suggest having a fairly neutral profile photo which is unlikely to cause offence as even if your profile is private they can still see it.
When you do apply for a job make sure that you pay attention to detail; get the job title right and get someone to proof your spelling and grammar. Always write to a named individual as looks like did research and are interested. Make sure to send a really focused cover letter to showcase your knowledge and passion to work for the company. A really great tip I have found is to send a quick email after the interview thanking the interviewer, and I also follow up with an attached document of my portfolio so they can have an more in-depth look after the interview. That way you really make an impression and are likely to be remembered. These tips have helped me, but if you have any more I’d love to hear them!
Hope this helped!