From student to graduate ─ 5 steps to apply for your first job

From student to graduate ─ 5 steps to apply for your first job

About to finish uni and wondering how you begin the process of taking your first steps into the world of work? Follow these 5 steps...

It’s happened – you’re now a university graduate!

Those hours of revision paid off. And the memories you’ve created and friends you’ve made over the last few years will stay with you forever.

But now comes the exciting/scary bit (depending on your frame of mind); it’s time to start your new career.

It’s understandable for some to feel daunted. After all, part-time work and placements aside, for many this is the first time you’ve ever needed to think about creating a CV, or using recruitment websites; where do you even begin?

Fear not – follow these 5 steps to get the ball rolling in your pursuit of securing your perfect graduate position:


1. Create a killer CV

Quickly transform a blank Word document into a glowing ad of your experience, abilities and talent:

• Choose a template. There are lots of free CV templates available online with a quick Google search. It makes it easier for you to layout your information in a clean and clear style.

• Craft an inspiring personal statement. This is the sentence you’ll put under your name and, crucially, the first thing recruiters will read. In just one short and succinct line, summarise your strength as an applicant and what you’re looking for in a new role.

• List your qualifications. Prioritise your degree – list the grade and institution, along with some of the most important things you learnt while studying it. Then give a brief outline of the qualifications and grades you earned at school and college.

• Detail any related experience you may have. This is often the thing new grads worry about most. “I’ve never had a full time job, what could I possibly put?” Easy – simply draw upon any related work experience you’ve ever done, whether that was an industry placement or a part-time job in a kitchen. Think about some of the qualities you needed to perform each role (team work, critical thinking, managing demand workloads etc.) and how they’ve impacted on you as a person. Recruiters understand graduates won’t have years of experience, but do want to hear about any relevant experience and transferable skills you’ve acquired.

For 10 dos and don’ts on what to include in your CV, read this.


2. Join LinkedIn

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. It’s likely you’ll already be very familiar and an expert in one or more of these social networks.

But while you may have heard of LinkedIn, it’s something that many students don’t join until they finally graduate.

That’s because LinkedIn is a professional social network. No selfies or funny vines here! LinkedIn is all about creating professional relationships. And it can prove to be a very powerful tool when looking for work.

Creating a profile is very easy. Essentially you replicate the details listed in your CV into the relevant fields. But there are added benefits of using the platform. Chief among which is being able to receive endorsements from previous colleagues and workplace educators, who can vouch for your abilities and talent.

What’s more, you’ll find lots of groups and pages dedicated to the industry you want to work in, and these can be great places to connect with potential future employers and colleagues.

Just remember to keep it professional and leave the filtered photo of your evening meal for Instagram!


3. Browse specific graduate job sites

No doubt your university will have a graduate resource listing opportunities from companies looking to scout budding your workers in your city, and it’s important that you absolutely take advantage of it.

But you’ll also find it useful to broaden your search to wider graduate resources. There are lots of sites out there dedicated to graduate recruitment, including the likes of Milkround, The Guardian and Prospects. Here you can search for thousands of jobs across the UK in numerous industries. You’ll also find details of graduate recruitment programmes for some of the UK’s leading employers that you may be able to apply for.

Furthermore, don’t forget to check out sites like Reed or TotalJobs. In addition to job listings, you’ll be able to create an online account where you can upload your CV. This will add your details to databases used by recruitment consultants.

If they like what they read, they’ll contact you about job roles you might be interested in.


4. Write a covering letter

Ok, so you’ve found a position that sounds perfect and you want to put yourself up for it.

But before you send over your details, you need to write a covering letter. Many job ads will detail this is something they want to receive from applicants in addition to a CV, but so many often forget to actually do it.

A covering letter is brief, easy but equally as important.

Recruiters can sometimes receive hundreds of applications for one role. So a cover letter should concisely tell them why they should take the time to read your CV.

As with any normal letter, add your home address, along with a contact phone number and email address (aligned to the right of the page). Then address the person who will receive your application, stating that position you’re applying for.

Then, in two or three short paragraphs, outline:

• Why you’re suitable for the role, referring to each skill listed in the ad

• What qualities you can bring to the company

Sign off with something along the lines of ‘I look forward to hearing your response’, with your name.

And then you’re all set.


5. Send your application!

You might get lucky and receive an offer for an interview right away.

But don’t be disheartened if you’re unsuccessful.

What’s important is that you’ve done the groundwork for future applications. All that’s needed is a tweak of your CV and cover letter to tailor them for each different role.

Also, many graduate recruiters are often willing to give feedback for unsuccessful applicants and ways in which they could improve elements of their CV.

Very soon you’ll land that dream role you’ve worked so hard for.

Come and work for us at Vita Student!

Are you a former or current Vita Student resident? Have a passion for marketing and looking to kick-start you career with an amazing opportunity at an award-winning company?
Then come and work for us!
Vita Student is launching its new Marketing Graduate Development Progamme – and it could be the perfect opportunity you’re looking for!
Find out more.
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