7 Job hunting tips for students and graduates
Searching for a job can be daunting – especially if it’s your first job. These tips will help you prepare your CV and make a good impression in the interview.
It’s easy to overlook key details when you’re job hunting, but if you consider how many other people are applying for the same positions, it’s often these details that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Remember, employers want to hire someone who will make their lives easier. That’s why your CV should demonstrate what your past successes can accomplish for them. Your digital application is a chance you have to shine, so don’t make easily avoidable mistakes that could negatively impact your future.
Tips for Searching for a Job
1. Prepare you CV
Consider that employers on average spend fewer than 60 seconds scanning CVs – yours needs to be professionally laid out, to the point, easy to follow, error-free, and preferably in a list format.
Some other key tips to consider are:
- Keep the formatting neat and logical
- Use formal business English
- List your qualifications and academic accomplishments, such as prefect, charity work, and academic results
If you’re considering padding your CV to ensure you get the job, be aware of the very serious consequences. “In a bid to increase your chances of employment, you are putting yourself at risk of being found out, ruining your professional reputation and lowering your odds of finding similar employment in future,” says Ina van der Merwe, CEO, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), a background screening firm.
2. Write a professional cover letter
Numerous companies will request a motivation letter, also called a cover letter. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview or having your CV ignored, so it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing effective cover letters.
This letter allows you to tell prospective employers about yourself. For example, you may include that you’re hard-working, that you worked part-time in the past, or even that you’ve spent years studying in this particular field.
Once you’ve written it, have someone with job interview experience evaluate it and give you feedback.
3. Pay careful attention to detail
Check both your CV and motivational letter for spelling and grammar mistakes. An astounding 71% of recruiters rank spelling mistakes as their biggest pet peeve. They will not submit CVs that contains errors, as this gives the impression that your attention to detail is lacking. Neglecting to check you CV for these types of mistakes will therefore jeopardise your chances of landing an interview.
Keep in mind that if you spell the name of the person or the company incorrectly, it will also reflect poorly on your professionalism.
4. Provide endorsements or reference letters
If you’ve been working part-time or have a lecturer who’s witnessed your hard work and diligent behaviour, then you can use their testimonials to boost your credibility in the eyes of potential employers.
A reference letter or endorsement can speak to your work ethic and your character. It gives your future employer a better idea of what kind of person you are, and if you would fit in with the company culture.
This is particularly important as it can give you a great advantage over most other candidates who are also searching for a job but neglect this point.
5. Pay close attention to the job ad
Read the job advert carefully. Firstly, you need to ensure you have the relevant experience, and that you supply any additional information that recruiters may ask for, such as a personalised motivational letter, or a short assignment to test your skills.
These tasks can sometimes be time-consuming but failing to do them will instantly take you out of the running for the position. Employers aren’t looking for staff that can’t follow simple instructions.
6. Make a good first impression at your interview
The initial impression you make on others is a huge determinant in how people will feel about you. This is only magnified at job interviews, where interviewers will be checking to make sure you fit within an organisation both personally and professionally. Here are some key tips to enhance your chances of a successful interview:
- Show up for the interview early
- Dress professionally
- Come prepared; you might need to bring certified copies of your certificates
- Bring a pen and paper with you, as well as a copy of your CV and the job advert
- Ensure you research the business before the interview; this tells the interviewer that you’re interested
- Make eye contact during the meeting as this gives the impression that you’re confident and trustworthy
- Thank the interviewers for considering you and taking the time to meet with you
7. Be proactive and don’t give up
No matter how well-prepared you are, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the first job you apply for. Instead of sitting at home waiting for another call-back, find part-time employment, particularly in the field that interests you. This will give you work experience, and lead to more references and endorsements, which can only be a positive in the eyes of a potential employer.
Having any kind of work experience will differentiate you from thousands of other students applying for the same positions. It can take as long as six months to find a job, so you’ll need to keep yourself motivated, be patient, and keep hitting the pavement until something comes your way.