Imagine you spend 4 years at university, finish top of your class with the best grades, and have all the awards for attendance and behaviour… 6 months after graduation, you’re still looking for a job and you can’t understand why companies are not interested in your 9.9 GPA and your 100% attendance record to lectures. What on earth might be going on?
I have worked on both sides of graduate recruitment. I have been the person recruiting, looking for the best talent, and I have been the person responsible for training and developing those who have been recruited by companies. Here are 6 tips for standing out when applying to graduate roles in companies.
- Make your CV interesting and relevant: A common mistake today is sending an old-school CV (boring layout) with useless information (your grades at primary school and the last book you read). If you CV looks the same of the rest, it’s likely to end up in the bin. Get advice from a professional on how to make your CV unique, colourful and relevant to companies. You will need to adapt your CV to each company, but having a basic one as a starting point is highly important.
- Get noticed through contact: While CV and cover letters were the norm, today they are not. CVs are still important, but you need to contact companies using all of the available sources. That means e-mail, Facebook pages, Twitter Feeds, Instagram, job boards (e.g. Monster and OCC Mundial), job fairs, company competitions and more. Open as many channels as communication as you can in order to get noticed.
- Understand recruiters: Recruiters at companies are interested in hiring people who will add value to the company, helping the company meet its goals. While it is great that you did well at school and university, in your CV (and hopefully interview) focus on giving concrete examples of achievements that demonstrate you add value and not just that you know how to score 10 on a test.
- Think above the norm: Never talk on your CV about having 100% attendance at university or work. Also don’t fill your CV with clichés about being hard working and dedicated. Why? That’s the minimum expected of you. Recruiters will already assume that you work hard, turn up and do a good job. Focus on concrete examples of things you have achieved that will make you stand out! For example, list relevant awards you have won, positive reviews you received from customers or responsibilities that you held that made you valuable.
- Be positive: The job market can be hard to get in to and you will undoubtedly have some knockbacks. When making contact with recruiters always be positive and believe you will get the job. Recruiters don’t like candidates who moan about how hard it is to find a job or who bitch about another employer who didn’t give them a chance. Stay positive and show the recruiter why you will be a great addition to their company.
- Be human: Top grades at university are a great sign and so is graduating from a top university. Remember, however, recruiters are in the business of hiring great people, not bits of paper. Your university degree is a passport to apply for the job. What will really close the deal is having great human skills (soft skills), e.g. problem solving, negotiating, presenting, relationship building and more. These are the kinds of skills you will need to add value to their company.
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