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Finding a job is the natural next step after graduating from college or university. Unfortunately, it can be quite challenging to get the job you want. That said, there are a few things you can do to find the best job and turn your degree in a life-long career.

Self-assessment

This is the first step in finding a job, and it is a very important one. Before you get in front of a prospective employer, you have to take a long hard look at yourself to ensure that you have what it takes to go into the career path you choose. Some of the things you should consider include:

  • Values and Lifestyle – These are very important as they will help you make better work-life decisions. In looking at your values and lifestyle, you should ask yourself:
    • What you value. Is it time with loved ones? A creative job? Wealth?
    • What kind of work environment would work best for you? This is to ensure that you are comfortable at the job you choose and that you enjoy the work instead of labouring through it.
    • Where you want to live. This is more of a preference and might not be as important at the points above. That said, it is important that you decide where you want to live based on your own preferences instead of letting it be determined by the company you want to work for.
  • Interests – The work you do should excite and interest you. If not, you will get bored pretty quickly. Think about:
    • The populations and age groups you would like to work with
    • The types of organizations you would like to work for
    • The issues you are most passionate about
    • The functions you would like to handle at the company
  • Personality – Everyone is different, and different personalities work best for different careers. For example, persuasive people work better in sales while compassionate people work best in jobs where they get to help people.
  • Skills – This is a major consideration. Think about the abilities, aptitudes, strengths, and talents you have. Some jobs call for more than a degree, and that is where some of these extra skills could come in handy.

Once you finish this self-assessment, you should take a second look at your CV to ensure that it is perfect for the job you are applying to. Since the CV is meant to market you and your skills, you should try as much as possible to be clear and specific about who you are and what you are capable of.

Research and Network

Most people looking for jobs do not do this enough. They send out as many CVs as possible with the hope that one lands them a job. When looking for a job, you should set aside some time to do research and networking. This could be as much as 2-4 hours a week divided up into smaller chunks per day.

Your area of focus should be the professional areas that you are most interested in. Try to research with the aim of finding out where you fit best. Some of the places to start include:

  • Organisational websites
  • Career websites
  • Job sites
  • Taking to alumni and employers if possible
  • Finding ways to make direct contact with employers

For your networking efforts, you could reach out to people in the industries you are interested in to see if they can point you to a job. You could also attend industry events and try to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. When you do this, try to be memorable and do not be too pushy as that could push people away.

When networking, you have to learn how to talk to people and overcome any fears you might have of doing so. Remember that networking is all about building relationships and building connections. Start with people in your field. These are the people who are most likely to understand where you are coming from and are likely to give you the most honest opinions they have of you and the industry.

Some other people you could talk to include:

  • Friends and family
  • Organisational contacts such as those found in social clubs, your place of worship, a gym you frequent, or any other place where people gather
  • Professional contacts such as colleagues, alumni, supervisors, former bosses if you have ever volunteered, or classmates

Learn to Market Yourself

Even if you graduated with the highest honours, you still need to learn how to market yourself. Start by:

  • Making a short written and video presentation of yourself. This could be the same content as what is in your cover letter and should demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job. This presentation should also include your career goals
  • Watching interview videos. There is a lot of value to be earned from watching interview videos.
  • Try to tailor yourself to fit the positions you are looking for
  • Learn how to explain your background
  • Practice marketing yourself in front of a mirror so you have the right words when you are sitting across an interviewer

If you have an online degree, make sure that you mention it in your presentation. Some employers love this, as it shows dedication and commitment. You may also want to consider expanding your skillset and studying for a DBA. A DBA on your CV really stands out and is important in tackling the global skills gap. Institutions like Aston University Online have a lot of different programs that you can study online, meaning you can study whilst you are busy in your job search.

Prepare for the Interview

Even if there is no way of knowing the right formula to having a successful interview, being prepared increases your chances considerably. Once you have a company in mind:

  • Do your research. This is so that you understand the company and how it works. Also, try to see who handles interviews at the company so you are able to know how to talk to and impress them.
  • Adjust your CV accordingly. Different companies require different presentations from you. While one company might be looking for a certain personality, another one could be looking for an entirely different one. Try to adjust your CV so that the company can see that you are the right fit.
  • Try to find out the type of interview you will be having. Again, different types of interviews require different approaches.

On the day of the interview, do not forget to dress appropriately, and bring more than one copy of your CV and a list of references. It would also be polite to send a thank-you email a day after the interview.

Essential Things to Remember

  1. Build a positive online presence – In the age of social media and internet searches, it is likely that a hiring manager or employer will search your name before calling you for an interview. If you want to see how you are perceived online, put your browser in incognito mode and search your name. If you see your LinkedIn profile on the search results, visit it to see if it is complete. If you are an active social media user, your accounts and posts also appear on the list of results. Try to ensure that everything that is posted on these accounts is positive. “Today, HR professionals will diligently look through your social media profiles. No matter how experienced you are, how many projects you’ve completed, and what college you’ve graduated from – you just might not be the best fit for the culture of the company. And social media is a place where we can determine if you`ll be able to become a part of our team depending on what you post and how you interact with others,” says Laura Jones, a recruiter for WOWGrade.
  2. Reach out – If you want to find out more about a company, the best place to start is to talk to its employees. They can tell you more about the company and what working there is like. It would also be beneficial to talk to past employees because current employees might be reluctant to give you all the information you need about the company. There is also the chance of employees telling you about job openings that have not been advertised yet if you are talking to employees of a company you have not submitted an application to.
  3. Customise your CV – Every CV and cover letter should be tailored to the company you are applying to and the job opening. Different companies might advertise openings in the same position but need vastly different approaches. A good way to do this is to have a generic CV that has all the essential information on it and editing it when you want to send an application. Try to include the keywords in the job posting to ensure that your CV is picked up quickly if the company receives a lot and uses automated systems to sift through them.
  4. Check your references and keep them up to date – Companies will always check your references. Ensure that they have nice things to say about you and they are current.
  5. Get referred – If you get referred for a job, your chances of getting hired increase exponentially. If you can, try to talk to someone who works at the company you would like to work for. This would also present a chance to talk more about the company and the specific requirements of any jobs they refer to you.
  6. Know how to use LinkedIn – As mentioned, your LinkedIn profile will come up when someone searches your name. Ensure that it is complete and it’s a full, positive picture of you. On LinkedIn, you could also reach out to employers and hiring managers to see if they have openings. Try to grow your network and always connect with people. If you do this, they will be more likely to recommend you for a job or even call you for an interview.

Finding a job can be challenging. That said, if you position yourself well, the process will be a lot smoother.

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