Top 10 Tips for the Graduate Job Hunt

Rebecca Males delves into the best tips for polishing up your graduate job applications.
Or, where you should be looking to find a potential mate: medicine and engineering, FYI.

It’s that time of year again. Final year is generally synonymous with ‘job hunting’ and you’re about to learn why. You’re going to be catapulted from the cosy nest of student life, thrown out of the tree, and be made to fly in the real world.

Expectation.

GIF image of the children from Peter Pan flying around a chandelier

Reality.

GIF of a cat attempting to jump from a window sill to a ledge and missing Here’s the prospects from last year’s chicks… (Figures taken from 2013 Australian Graduate Survey)

  • 71.3 per cent of graduates surveyed had found full-time employment within four months of graduating
  • Over 90 per cent of pharmacists, medicine grads and mining engineering grads had found full-time employment at the time of the survey.
  • Graduates of civil and electrical engineering also fared well, with over 80 per cent of grads in full-time employment

Prospects surveys generally seem to suck all round. At least you’re not in Europe, where you’ll apply for an average of 28 jobs before you land your first one, and it’s estimated 85 graduates apply for each grad job.

The good news is that IT and telecommunication jobs are going to be a big ol’ trend in the labour market for 2014/15, with ‘data analyst’ being ranked as one of the top jobs for the next five years. Best polish up those maths skills.

Whilst you’re at it, we’ve got a few tips for you to polish up your job hunting etiquette. I’m not kidding – you are going to have to approach this as a hunt. You will need wit, perseverance and experience in order to reap the rewards. Let’s begin.

1. Get LinkedIn

A spotless digital footprint is a prerequisite for any industry nowadays, and a LinkedIn profile shows employers you’re a keen young professional, already networking with contacts within your industry. (It’s kinda like an online dating profile, but for work. Please don’t ever use it to date.)

2. Get links in

Wanna know what else that survey said? 24.5 per cent of grads found their jobs online, but 14.5 per cent got their job through family and friends. Many more approached the company directly. Let people know what you’re looking for. You don’t know that your grandma might know someone’s uncle’s dog who once worked where you’d really like a job. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

3. Always include a cover letter

I’ve actually seen recruiters bitching about grads not sending cover letters on Twitter and so they should. They usually read this first, it’s your virtual meet and greet. Best tips for cover letters? Limit it to one page, keep it succinct, make sure every line is relevant to the job. This bloke absolutely nails it. Your HR guy really does not care about helping you “chase your passion” for PR.

4. Shave your CV

Yes. I’m telling you to take things off it. The majority of the time, graduates load up their CV with crap that’s not relevant to the job. You will be sending out a different CV to every application, because every single one should be tailored to that position.

Highlight key skills developed through your experiences and education, how you have contributed to teams, or how you have managed any different projects. Show that you’re a SIR. (Sharp, Interesting, Relevant). No more than 2 pages.

5. Research the company

Their growth, their successes, their CEO, and any charities they support. It can all help to make your application relevant and insightful.

6. Facebook stalk them

This is a different sort of research. You want to see what sort of people they are. I guarantee they’ll have a nosey on your social media profiles, so go and have a look at theirs.

I recently applied for a job, and when I checked their Twitter feed it was full of office cupcakes. I mentioned in my covering letter that I felt I could contribute to the team well by expanding their horizons in the baking department – they loved that I’d made it personal, and clearly done my research.

7. Don’t rush it

Write your application and come back to it the next day. It’s a lot like essay writing; there’s a lot of proof reading and spell checking involved before you can hand it in.

8. Chase them

If you haven’t heard back from them after one week, give them a call to see how it’s going. Call at around 10.30am, it’s after the morning rush, but before they start slacking off for lunch.

9. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results” – Einstein

No, he wasn’t talking about grad applications but the same certainly applies. If no fish are biting, you need to change your bait. Change what you’re saying, have someone else read it, be different. It’s not like you have anything to lose.

10. Keep going

This is the most important one. The most commonly used words to describe job hunting are soul-destroying, hope crushing and generally depressing (er, by me). You will get more rejections than welcomes back. Just see every knock back as a push toward the job that you’re meant to be in.

There you go… hopefully that’s either made you want to go and blast out some applications, or just burn them with fire. Either way, we hope this has helped, and good luck to this year’s graduates. May the odds be ever in your favour.

Try sites like Unigrad and Graduate Opportunities for graduate job openings, or visit the university’s Career Service for help with your application.