Thousand of university and TAFE graduates will be flooding the job market up to and following the festive season. The really switched on graduations will have started their recruiter research and job search back in first semester. But for those who have waited till the exams, assignments and celebrations are over, here are some tips for your first professional job search:
- Research – Get to know your chosen industry through company web sites, annual reports and other publications to gain a solid background knowledge and understand the skills and qualities valued in your industry. Make a short list of the skills and qualities necessary for the industry to include in your résumé.
- Résumé – Firstly, never, ever, lie. There is a difference between embellishment and flat out fabrication. It's only natural that job-seekers want to market themselves in the best possible light. But chewing is a waste of time and can cause unnecessary heartache and embarrassment. Secondly, keep it short, sweet and simple. The résumé should be no longer than five pages; your most recent and relevant skills should be near the start; and utilize dot points instead of verbose sentences. Unless you're entering a creative industry, color and creativity are not appropriate. Use a standard font like Arial or Times New Roman in black. A photo is optional.
- Cover Letter – If you're answering a job advertisement, read it carefully and pick out the main features the employee is looking for. Identify your skill base according to the categories. If the advertisement asks you to address selection criteria then make sure you do it. Tell the employee your skills and how / where you acquainted them and provide a list of achievements to date whether it's from a part-time or casual job or even a sporting team.
- Networking – In order to maintain a competitive edge, it's important to establish a professional network which mainly comes in handy for accessing the hidden job market. Identify a handful of companies that you might like to work for, contact them and arrange an appointment for 'a chat' with a potential manager. Even if there is no position on offer, this is your chance to sell yourself to a potential employer and find out more about working at a particular company. If a position does come up, you will be well ahead of the pack. Take advantage of other networking opportunities like attending Alumni events and joining your industry's peak organization. Let family, friends and acquaintances know that you're looking for a job so they can tell you if they hear of any job vacancies.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare! There is nothing more embarrassing than a job candidate bumbling through answer after answer in a job interview. More importantly, the employer will think the candidate lacks interest in the position or does not value preparation as a general rule. Ask a friend or family member to participate in a mock interview but make sure it's someone who will take it seriously and provide constructive feedback. Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer – this will show how interested you are in the job. Bring written references and especially any documents that the employee has asked you to bring or that may add value to your application.
- The Interview – Everything your mother ever told you and more is relevant at the interview. Sit up straight and still, look the interviewer in the eye, do not mumble, do not interrupt and above all, smile even if you're nervous. Sound like a cinch? Not without some practice! The best attitude to have when going into a job interview is that it's good practice. Anything more or anything less could spell disaster for your performance. Use the interviewer's name, bring notes to the interview if necessary and ask permission to use them. Great for the nerves and most employers will not mind. The main point to remember is yourself which is easier said than done but practice will make it possible!
- Follow-Up – The follow-up phone call, email or letter every step along the job-hunting process is designed to make you stand out from the crowd. After any meeting, interview or job application submission, follow-up with a thank you and take the opportunity to state your case as a worthy future employee. If calling, ring at the start of the day before the person has had a chance to go to meetings or a receptionist can intercept you call.
- Volunteer Work – Nothing says passion and commitment to an employer like someone who does volunteer work. During your job search, some volunteer work related to your field would help an under-resourced charity organization and also give you current and marketable skills.
So, what are you waiting for? It's time to show off your talents!