Essential job search tips for today’s recruitment climate

Recent graduate just entering the graduate recruitment market? If yes, then searching for a job can be both time consuming and tedious, especially if you don’t know where to begin. So here are a few essential job search tips to help you get a job right after university.

Job search tip 1: Decide on your career direction then put a plan in action

Most of us look up to others, such as our teachers, older siblings or peers, parents, relatives, and neighbours to determine our career paths. We talk to people we know and respect to find out what they do for work and this is a great way to find out about career paths. If we don’t know of anyone in the career area we’re interested in then finding out is going to take time. Perservere – it’s well worth it. Give yourself plenty of options; at least at first, go wide not deep. Do not rush to conclusions, instead take your time in mapping out your wants. Match your skills with the skills which are vigorously sought after within the fields of employment that you wish to enter into.

Job search tip 2: Make sure your CV is in top shape

Your next and most important step to land a good job is to make sure your Curriculum Vitae (CV) is in top shape. It is important that you:

  • Create a CV that includes general details relating to your educational background, awards and accomplishments, internship details, and other experience from community/volunteer work, etc;
  • Create a custom CV that is specific to each job you wish to apply for;
  • Read your CV several times to check for grammatical or spelling errors. You could get someone else to read it, too;
  • Include accurate and updated contact information (email, physical address and mobile number/landline);
  • Include relevant references (professors whom you studied under and/or managers/peers whom you worked with during your Internship);
  • Do not forget to include the details of clubs or groups you were involved in, especially one where you had taken up  a leadership role;

Always take a backup of your general and custom-made CV on your desktop/laptop. Other useful things to keep handy include:

  • Details of references
  • Samples of your work
  • University transcripts
  • Certificates
  • Letters of recommendation

Job search tip 3: Do your research and set up your online profile

Building a list of connections will help you put your plan into action. Your first step here will be to conduct a thorough research and join relevant online communities. Create an online profile on LinkedIn, the most preferred professional community, by filling in details relating to your educational background, awards and accomplishments, a summary of your skills and interest and what are you looking for, in terms of your career or job of interest, community/volunteer work you were involved in, etc. Most people have their LinkedIn profiles with multiple contacts and are highly active on it. Start building your list of connections by connecting with relevant people who share similar interests and skills to you. Having your LinkedIn profile up online means your profile searchable by most employers. Unlike Facebook, many employers make use of LinkedIn to search for relevant candidates/job profiles.

Job search tip 4: Network your way into the right role

Network with anyone and everyone you come in contact with. Never miss an opportunity. Find out if they are aware of any job leads, have contacts at the company you wish to work at, or can put you in touch with someone who can help you and, lastly, can keep you informed if they hear about any job leads. Networking is one of the most important and best ways of increasing your chances of getting a job. You can network with:

  • Former/current professors
  • Former/current classmates
  • Family members, friends, and neighbours
  • Supervisors/managers/peers you have worked with
  • Volunteers you have previously worked with
  • Fellow members of professional groups that you have joined

Job search tip 5: Negotiating your salary

Most new graduates are not sure if they are allowed to negotiate their salary with the hiring manager/recruiter. They understandably feel that since it is their first job they are not entitled to negotiate on salary, while others feel that every company has the candidate’s best interests in mind while making an offer, thus it is important to accept whatever they offer. Negotiating your salary is not at all wrong, if it is for the right reasons. Always be respectful while negotiating. Make the negotiation about what is fair in the market and not about what you need or want. Always conduct a thorough research to understand the job market before negotiating your salary.

Please remember to stay positive when searching for a job. Keep in mind that you have a unique set of gifts to offer and uniqueness is something that most employers look for in a candidate.

7 Reasons to be optimistic about your graduate career prospects

There is plenty to be optimistic about as the new academic year gets underway, especially for those seriously thinking about their graduate career.

For one, the UK economy is expanding and graduate recruiters are taking on more graduates, up to 17% it is predicted this year. In July the Higher Education Statistics Agency reported a rise in the number of university-leavers going straight into professional jobs, so that’s another reason.

The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) says many employers still have an average of 45 unfilled vacancies for 2015, which represents huge opportunities for those with their thinking caps firmly in place when it comes to their graduate career.

Britain needs graduates

This should cheer you up after the recent report from the Chartered Institute for Professional Development on how the UK is producing far more graduates than the recruitment market can cater for, resulting in 47% of graduates in non graduate level employment.  The report led to suggestions that we should be limiting the number of young people going to university but Steve West, Chair of University Alliance and vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England, described this a foolish and pessimistic way to think.

He said the country needs graduates and shouldn’t be scaling down on the number when other countries are scaling up. Besides, that even where graduates were in non graduate level employment it still showed that employers prefer graduates over those without degrees.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics confirms this saying that graduates are more likely to be employed, less likely to be searching for work and less likely to be out of the labour force than those with lower or no qualifications.

Salaries are higher too. The average graduate starting salary at £25,000 is £1000 higher than it was last year. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says you can earn up to 45% more with a degree. Average starting salaries for non-graduates in the same 21-30 age bracket is £18,000.

So when you have a degree you have a greater chance of earning a higher salary, getting a higher skilled job and avoiding unemployment. On top of that, as Steve West says, the country needs graduates and I think that’s a total of 7 reasons to feel optimistic about the future of your graduate career.

Get thinking to prepare for your graduate career

The downside is that we are still recovering from years of graduate unemployment and the number of graduates in the UK is certainly higher than it has ever been. The newly graduated will find themselves in stiff competition with past graduates who perhaps have been interning, volunteering or in other type of employment but now return to the jobs market with a good two to three year’s work experience under their belts.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of AGR, says employers are beginning to talk about ‘student recruitment’ rather than ‘graduate recruitment’, representing rising competition from younger jobseekers being hired by employers for apprenticeships and sponsored degrees.

For this reason you cannot be complacent when it comes to thinking about your graduate career. Now is the time to think about what you want to do and to put an action plan in place to achieve it.

The plan should include getting a summer job, ideally one you can return to throughout your years at university so that by the time you graduate you have a good solid six months or more experience behind you.

You might also look at volunteering opportunities to develop your skills in the direction you wish your career to go. Don’t forget that the vast majority of the type of skills and aptitudes employers are looking for in a graduate are what might be termed ‘soft skills’ or ‘employability skills’. These are the type of skills you develop through involvement in extra curricular activities and include resilience, communication and problem solving.

“Employers are looking for a combination of skills, knowledge and attitude,” says the AGR’s Steven Isherwood. “Show why you want to work for the company and take the time to complete your application thoroughly – spelling mistakes don’t help.”

How to get into cyber security

From online bullying to identity fraud, our increasing online activity is opening new opportunities for graduates

With people doing more and more online, from shopping to making virtual friends, cyber security has become a huge area in the fight to keep us safe online.

This means new career opportunities for graduates but how do you get into cyber security and what sort of skills do you need?

With the publication of the UK’s cyber security strategy in December 2014 lots of help now exists for graduates considering cyber security as a career option. The government is keen to help graduates develop the skills needed to be successful in this area as it’s critical to the UK’s economic growth. The report birthed a number of initiatives designed to support efforts to drive up employment rates among computer science graduates.

Getting into cyber security

Contrary to what you may believe you don’t have to be a computing graduate to work in cyber security but can have a degree in a related field such as business systems or digital design.

You will however need to have some understanding of online security before entering the workforce. Employers also look for practical experience in business communication and technical skills.

Aptitudes for a cyber career

What about the aptitude needed to pursue a career in the field? An inquiring mind is desirable. This is usually manifested in the habit of asking questions. Not content with what things look like on the surface, you always want to know why things are the way they are.

Analytical and numeracy skills are also key. You need to be good at interpreting data and translating it into meaningful information your colleagues can use.

There is plenty you can do to strengthen your skills and knowledge in cyber security. This will help enhance your career opportunities in business and the wider cyber security profession.

You can join a mentoring scheme where existing cyber security professionals mentor recent graduates interested in a cyber career.

You can also develop skills in tailored “cyber camps” for recent graduates. They combine intensive exercises to strengthen your technical, communication and business skills.

There are opportunities to develop your skills by doing a higher education course as a number of universities now offer postgraduate Master’s degrees in General Cyber Security.  The government has also funded two Centres of Doctoral Training to provide an expanded pool of top-end skills at PhD level. These centres will deliver 66 additional PhDs from 2017.

Other innovative initiatives to raise cyber skills and awareness and broaden the pool of available talent include a new Massive Open Online Course in cyber security. Run by the Open University, the course runs for an eight-week period, four times a year. As well as raising awareness amongst a mass audience the course aims to encourage those with an interest to take the subject further. A total of 24,127 people enrolled for the first iteration in September 2014.

Finally, the Cyber Security Challenge runs cyber security competitions with the aim of encouraging a broader set of people to test their skills and consider a career in the field. The finalists compete in an ultimate set of tests co-designed by GCHQ, NCA, BT, Lockheed Martin, Juniper and Airbus.

Cyber security is a career of the future because as more companies move their activities online demand for employees will only grow.