Graduates – what should you be doing right now to improve your employment opportunities?
University life ended abruptly in March for millions of students. Not least those participating in their last few lectures and final exams. Now graduates are facing challenges in the search for their new career opportunities as the UK economy falters amidst the fallout from the Coronavirus.
According to the Chartered Management Institute, nearly a third of companies are cutting their graduate recruitment hires. Although the UK has seen economic hardship many times over, recessions are predicted and companies can prepare. Covid-19 has brought about an entirely new and unprecedented situation. Planning and prevention have been eliminated and businesses find themselves reacting to the crisis rather than preparing.
But what does this mean for the graduates of the class of 2020? We are in no doubt that graduate job searches are going to become tougher. Coronavirus has increased the available talent pool due to redundancies, putting graduates in a position where they are competing for jobs against qualified and experienced candidates.
Although there is no magic wand we can wave to improve things, we do have some sage advice for graduates to help improve their career opportunities. Employers still want graduate hires for the long term, so make sure you are at the top of their list!
Does your CV stack up?
Your CV is your opportunity to sell yourself. But, you have very little time to grab the eye of the hiring manager. Make it relevant, succinct and free from any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Personal statement. This is your opportunity to tell the employer what you have to offer them over and above the competition – in other words, your personal brand. It should list your strengths and achievements and, with a nod to the importance of soft skills, your adaptability, creativity and communication skills.
Employment history. This should be listed in reverse order and highlight the skills you have developed and how you applied them to the role. Success stories should be included, but again, keep these brief and where possible demonstrate how that is relevant to the role you are applying for.
Qualifications. These should also be listed in reverse order starting with your degree. List the educational establishments you attended and the grades you achieved.
Is your LinkedIn profile professional and up to date?
LinkedIn is the professional social platform used by many recruiters and hiring managers to seek out talent. Your profile should be complete and demonstrate your skills and qualifications. Make sure that you complete all sections under your personal information. Remember, this is not Facebook or Twitter. What you post here and how you present yourself counts. Your profile picture should be a professional-looking headshot, make sure your ‘about’ information is related to your professional experience, aspirations, skills and achievements and customise your URL so that it is your name rather than a bunch of numbers.
Post about topics or subjects that are relevant to the industry you want to be considered for and make them informative, insightful and educational rather than opinion-based.
Whether you have an interview in the pipeline or not, now is the time to brush up on your skills. There are plenty of websites you can use to brush up on the types of questions you will be asked which will allow you the opportunity to consider how you would answer them. Although many of your interviews will probably now take place virtually, you still need to ‘dress for the job you want’. Smart attire is essential as is a neat and groomed appearance and consider your surroundings when on video. Keep your background neutral and if you live with other household members, find a space where you can have your interview uninterrupted.
Brush up on your skills
One of the few good things to come out of this pandemic is the huge variety of free online courses that are available. Although your degree has given you your education, there may well be some skills you are lacking in when it comes to the working environment. Digital skills, in particular, are high on the list of employers desired strengths. Use this time to brush up on the skills you have and learn new skills that are going to put you ahead of the competition.
Look at businesses who have thrived during the pandemic
We all know that some sectors of industry have not fared very well over the past few months. But many businesses have not just weathered the storm but excelled during it. Consider companies that are involved in virtual activities, eCommerce marketplaces, logistics, pharmaceuticals, entertaining and streaming. These sectors may not have been your ‘go-to’ industries, but there are plenty of varied roles within them that you could adjust your skillset to accordingly.
Is a post-grad course right for you?
Gaining a Masters Degree is always a great move when it comes to improving your career opportunities. At a time when graduate vacancies are low, now could be the best time to enrol on a post-grad course. This path could help you with future career placements when we have a more settled and buoyant economy. Up until recently, employees have been able to pursue an MBA via the apprenticeship scheme through their employer. But plans to scrap this qualification from the scheme are afoot. Getting a placement for this qualification now could hold you in good stead for the future.
Job bulletin boards.
Job boards can be an excellent job hunting tool and come in all different formats from huge national job boards to niche job boards run by industry publications. Uploading your CV to these boards will increase the exposure you have to hiring managers. But it is important that your CV stands out (see our above tips) and that you also use your time on these boards to look for potential vacancies. Remember to set filters to include geographical search area and use skills as keywords in addition to job titles. Here are some of the best generic boards to look at:
Amdas have always championed graduate placements and work closely with clients who are invested in the ongoing training and development of graduates. Why not get in touch with our team and see how we can help you with your graduate placement?