5 tell-tale signs you are en route to a graduate level job

Sep 9, 2013

Is there anything a graduate can do to improve his or her chances of getting a graduate level job?

According to research from High Fliers, 36 per cent of graduates end up in low paid menial jobs that don’t reflect their qualifications. By now most graduates know that the likelihood of leaving university and stepping into a successful graduate career isn’t based on how great their degree is.

So what can a graduate do to better their chances of getting a graduate level job? Here are five things:

1. Choose your graduate career wisely

It’s important that you look at careers that would suit your personality, your interests and your values. For example, if you are the type that likes your own company more than others you will probably be happier in a job where the majority of the work you do is done on your own and away from the public. If you love being around people then of course the opposite is true. Your interests and values tend to play a major role too as they help provide you with the energy, inspiration and motivation to stay with an activity. If your interest level for a type career is low it will be harder to show the enthusiasm you need to convince an employer at the interview.

2. Make yourself employable

Employers employ people who they believe are going to add value to the company. They want to see evidence that you have the type of skills and achievements that will help them respond to continuous and rapid economic and technological changes at home and abroad.

So seek out opportunities to build the following employability or ‘soft skills’, and then for ways to show and convince an employer that you have them by demonstrating, firstly, how you have used them and, secondly, what the benefits were to others:

  1. Teamwork skills – working well in a team rather than dominating or adding nothing to it
  2. Self-discipline – managing your own work and completing tasks to deadline
  3. Positive attitude – showing a can-do attitude whether or not you enjoy a task
  4. Problem solver – seeing problems as there to be solved and learned from, and not as dead ends
  5. Enterprising – you demonstrate initiative, come up with original ideas and you don’t shy away from taking calculated risks
  6. Business awareness – respecting the business environment and understanding the importance of customer service
  7. Literate and numerate – communication and literacy skills are important, as too practical application of numeracy skills.

3. Develop your experience through internships

Whichever way you look at it you need experience of the working environment. You could gain some of this from other employment or from volunteering but graduate internships are still often your best bet for getting a foot through the door. Despite the stick they get internships still remain a significant entry path into full time employment for graduates with up to one in every three posts filled by a graduate who has already worked for the company – either through internships, industrial placements or vacation work, according to a Higher Education Statistics Agency report.

4. Does your CV tell a convincing story?

You also need to make sure that you have a CV that sells your skills well. It shouldn’t simply offer a standard list of courses and jobs you have done but also show employers what you have achieved through them. What difference did you make while at university or volunteering for the local homeless shelter? You need to be able to demonstrate evidence that you were proactive, initiated or contributed to ideas that solved a problem and demonstrated the needed tenacity to stick with something in the face of a challenge. Your CV story can either work for or against you. The kind of CV story that works for you is one that shows that you have followed a definite course toward the career you are interested in and are not simply trying to jump ship in order to get just any job.

5. What are your interview skills like?

You need to come across well in your interview if you are going to convince an employer to choose you over someone else. Interview skills cover a specific set of proficiencies all of which can be developed through practice and application. These skills are demonstrated through how effective you are at using your knowledge of the industry, the company and its competitors when answering questions; how well you sell your skills and experiences while answering questions; the type of questions you ask in return; and your general attitude toward other people. Using relevant examples, scenarios and insights in your questions and answers is more likely to help you to stand out as a person who knows their stuff.

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