Grads Need to Get Savvy – or Miss the Boat!

Are grads savvy enough? Let’s be honest, it’s not a great time to be a graduate. There appear to be fewer openings than the number of graduates looking for jobs and many employers can be heard complaining of skills gaps and lack of proactivity. We asked Katrina Collier, who trains graduates in job hunting, for her advice…

“During this year I’ve spoken to many students who on one hand grumble about their university’s career service and then, in the same breath, tell me that they’ve not actually gone to see them as they expect information to be sent to them.

It sounds crazy! Future employers are looking for your proactivity and creativity. It only goes to reinforce the stereotypical feelings about today’s graduates but it’s also a bonus for those of you who can immediately see one simple way to stand out.

With the advent of the Internet we have become an instant society where information is at the tip of our fingers. So why do we hear grads say that they struggle to see where to begin? Why do they feel opportunities are hard to find?

As someone involved in training graduates in new ways to look for opportunities and get their message heard, my top 3 tips are:

  • Be proactive & get networking,
  • Clean up your social media reputation, and
  • Learn how to build a strong online presence that attracts opportunity

But what else can you do?

One common suggestion is to get work experience while you’re still studying. I asked Lewis Clark of getworkexperience.com about this and he told me “A worthwhile work experience placement, backed by a reference, provides any prospective employer with evidence that you have proved yourself capable in the working environment and have actively pursued enhancements to your CV.”

Lewis went on to say that there are four ways to get work experience:

  1. Family and Friends – though this avenue is declining as competition increases.
  2. Using the Internet to locate HR Managers and submitting a “cold email” showing your interest. Persistence is required, as you won’t know if they have an opportunity, but this can pay off.
  3. Job Boards – The good news is that you will know that the company is hiring but the drawback is that competition is fierce. Be sure that your CV stands out, for all the right reasons.
  4. Recruitment Agents – be specific about your objectives and ensure your agent knows them.

So you get an opportunity for an interview, how do you succeed?

Communications expert Lois Ireson, of MSB Executive, offers some great points on what you’re up against and how you can improve your chances.

Lois says “ Rightly, but most often wrongly, interviewers can believe that the latest generation of graduates are slightly arrogant. They feel that they think that they are ‘owed’ a job, that they are only able to talk in text speak and are highly disrespectful of ‘old’ interviewers.”

Up against such negative preconceptions she suggests you:

  1.  Be brilliant at the basics – be prepared, arrive early and look smart.
  2. Smile – practice on the way in and put your interviewer at ease.
  3. Adopt a neutral posture – the one between slouched and puffed up. The right posture shows confidence and interest.
  4. Warm up your voice. Use sirening, with your mouth closed emit a hum from the top to the bottom of your range. If your voice is warm you will project well and stand out from your competitors.
  5. Research websites and social media and be prepared with a good question or two for your interviewer.

Although it may look bleak on the surface and, as negativity sells, the press will want you to believe that it’s tough to find an opportunity, I believe that it’s up to you. You can take control of your job search and be proactive or you can keep trying the things that you have always done and keep feeling the same.

What could you do differently today?

What have you tried that made a huge difference to your search?

Would you be happy to share it with others, we’d love to hear from you – just leave a comment below!

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