Graduate jobs: 7 steps to getting your first gig

Whether you have just graduated from university or a TAFE course, looking for your first job can be a daunting task.

Finding a job is already difficult, but without any experience in the workforce, it can feel almost impossible.

Read on to discover some excellent career advice for graduates.

1. Don’t limit your job hunt

Online job search engines are also an effective and common way of finding new roles. Be sure not to limit your search by only looking for specialised roles. Remember, there are a lot of jobs in your field that you may not even be aware of.

Try noting down keywords that you think relate to the career you are looking for, and use these to conduct a broader job search. For example, if you are looking for a career in social work, a wide range of terms may apply other than just, “social worker”. Try using phrases or words such as, “welfare”, “human services”, “counselling”, “mental health”, etc.

It may sound old school in our current digital era, but approaching companies about work can be a great way to get in before other job applicants. Speaking to potential employers in person enables them to put a face to your name so that when they are reading your job application, they already know who you are.

2. Take advantage of networking

Throughout the course of your study, you will meet plenty of well-respected professionals in your field. If you form good relationships with them, then don’t be afraid to get in contact after you complete your qualification to let them know you’re looking for work. Many people will be happy to pass your name onto their contacts and give you useful tips for your job search.

As the saying goes, “it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know”.

3. Review your resume

Putting together a strong resume will help get your foot in the door for an interview. If you have a limited amount of experience, make sure to dig deep and really sell your strong points. Include any short course or volunteer work you may have undertaken because this shows employers you have taken the initiative to develop key job skills like meeting deadlines and multitasking.

If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure your job profile is up to date, because the first thing employers will do before interviewing a candidate is check their social profiles and presence. You want to make sure they have a good impression of you before they even meet you.

Be sure to address all the key points in the job advertisement when tailoring your CV/resume. For example, if your potential employer is looking for someone with excellent leadership skills, include any relevant past experience where you may have demonstrated this.

Keep in mind that everything you include in your resume may be points that you will be asked to expand on if you are interviewed. Therefore, it is advised that you only list past work experience and education that you can comfortably talk about. For example, don’t list units in your TAFE course that were not your strong suit or that you don’t have an impressive amount of knowledge in.

4. Dress to impress

First impressions are everything. Dressing appropriately for a job interview is something that should not be overlooked. Keep in mind, appropriate presentation may vary across different industries. If you were going for a job in the fashion industry, for example, you would want to wear an outfit that exemplifies your style and your enthusiasm for the field. However, for a job interview in finance, standard business attire would apply.

5. Prepare questions

Interviewing your future employer is a great way to show them that you have done your research on the company and are genuinely interested in the role. Remember, just because you’re the one answering most of the questions, doesn’t mean they don’t want you to ask questions too.

Good questions cover things like, highlights of working in the business, challenges that may be faced in the role and opportunities for progression within the company. Questions like these bolster your suitability as a candidate because they show that you have thought around the job in detail. You can read more about this here.

6. Prepare to be rejected

Unfortunately, rejection is a part of the job hunting process. Rejections may flood your inbox anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, but it is important not to lose hope. Every failure is one step closer to success. Don’t be afraid to re-apply to companies that have rejected you in the past because while you may not have been their ideal candidate at the time, you might be the best out of the next pool of applicants.

7. Follow-up

Following up after interviews can be a great way to show your enthusiasm for the position. That being said, do give your potential employers at least a week to get back to you. If they do not, sending them a polite email will do them no harm. Be sure to sound eager, but not pushy. No one wants an employee with no patience.

Follow-ups can be useful even when you receive a rejection. Knowing where you went wrong can help you avoid making that mistake in future interviews. Most recruiters are happy to provide you with some feedback as to why your application was unsuccessful.

In conclusion

The most important thing to remember is that job searching is a lengthy process. Do not feel disheartened if you do not land your dream job straight away. Gaining interview experience is highly valuable and before you know it, you’ll be a pro at acing job interviews.

Caroline Schmidt writes the blogs for Kangan Institute. She is passionate about education, careers, & giving advice to students of all ages.