It’s not easy to get a great job these days – particularly if you’ve no work experience, or any experience within the industry you’re trying to enter.
You may have spent the last four years in education, working hard to make yourself a good candidate, but what many universities don’t teach is the essential CV writing and interview help that will catch employers’ attention and get you ahead of the pack, no matter whether you’ve spent all your student life studying, or whether you’ve been working between lectures to gain some much-needed work experience. Here, we give you some great tips on making the right impression on paper and in person, giving you a better chance of getting your first job.
The CV – Create a tailored CV for each role
Your CV absolutely must make an impact to get you through to an interview, but this doesn’t mean you should pack absolutely everything into it, leaving nothing for employers to ask you about. It’s often a good idea to make up a master CV that includes all your qualifications, experience and personal qualities, so that you can take the most relevant parts of the master CV and create a bespoke one fit for the job you’re going for. When making up this job-tailored CV, don’t be afraid to bold out the most relevant information that makes you a good fit for the role. This will show you’ve fully understood the job spec and know why you’re a good fit. As always, make sections clear and easy to read and use bullet points to break up the text – this will make it much easier for employers to skim over.
The personal statement – should I include one?
Many people include a short personal statement on their CVs and if you feel that there is information that makes you ideal for the role, then you should definitely include it. For example, ‘As captain of the debate team, I feel I have the confidence to speak in public, along with conflict management – both qualities that I feel this role demands’. Or, ‘As captain for the university football team, I’ve learnt about teamwork, and strategy’. This can offer a vital insight for any employer as to the way you’d fit the position. Just don’t make the personal statement too wordy, as your prospective employer doesn’t want your life story – they more than likely have quite a few to get through and anything too long winded could get rejected for that reason alone.
If your CV has passed the first round of applications, the job interview is your next big step, and this, especially for graduates with little to no experience, can be terrifying. Even the most confident of candidates find job interviews difficult, but if you do the research beforehand, then you’ll have much more of an idea of who you’re trying to impress. The first thing to go back over is your CV. Remind yourself of why you feel you’re a good candidate and make sure you refer to this during the interview. You could even consider having a test interview with a friend or family member to make answering interview questions less daunting – being comfortable talking about yourself and your best qualities is possible if you practise enough.
For extra credit, do your research
It’s often a good idea to look up not just the company you’re interviewing for, but if possible, the interviewer themselves, and LinkedIn can be a great place to start with this. Grab hold of any mention of the company in the media, or any blogs your interviewer has written perhaps, and reference this if you can within the interview. A candidate who’s done their research and knows the industry well is a very attractive prospect – it not only shows that you’re taking the interview seriously, but that you’re not afraid of a little hard work to get what you want. On the flip side, don’t be afraid of not knowing everything. Ask your interviewer anything you don’t understand about the business or the industry, and listen to what they have to say – a willingness to learn is another attractive trait that employers will be looking for.
Hopefully, the tips above will help you get ahead of the pack when it comes to catching a prospective employer’s attention, but one of the most important things to remember is to be yourself. After all, if and when you get the job, you’ll struggle to keep up a façade if you’ve been anything less than truthful.