I don’t know about you guys, but in my experience job searching and writing applications can be quite overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to know just where to start! So, I recently attended the ‘10 Secrets of Success in Securing Graduate Employment’ seminar held by the Careers and Employment Service. Though targeted more towards final year students and graduates, the presentation had some excellent ideas that can be applied from your very first semester. Here are three great tips I took away from the seminar:
Identify your experience
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a job advertisement only to be disheartened by the job requirements – as a university student with a part-time job, it seems impossible that I’ve demonstrated the leadership capabilities demanded by the position right? Well, maybe not! You probably have far more experience than you first thought, and experience doesn’t necessarily have to come from paid employment. Think about all the knowledge you gain from university – you’ve learned about your subject area, but maybe you’ve also overseen a group project (that’s leadership experience), and remember when you juggled five assessment items due in the same week (definitely effective time management), or how about the time you got a distinction for that massive research project (there’s an example of critical thinking and effective communication). See, already you have far more experience than you thought, and this isn’t even taking into account your part-time work or extracurricular activities! So, next time you read a job advertisement, don’t discount yourself! Chances are you’ll have some type of experience with the general skills that many employment opportunities call for. Here are some (fictional) examples you could use as a starting point when thinking about the experience you already have.
Justify your skills
When writing resumes or job applications, many of us (myself included) just list the responsibilities that were part of our part-time work and experience. While it’s definitely important that employers know the types of tasks you’ve previously dealt with, what they are really looking for are key strengths and skills that make you an ideal candidate for the position. An excellent way to demonstrate your capability is to use your list of responsibilities as justification for your skills. So, for example, as a Service Supervisor in my part-time job at Coles, it was my responsibility to train and mentor new staff – I could use this experience as an example of leadership. See the pictures below for some additional examples.
When it comes to your resume, it’s important promote yourself and be proud of your achievements. It’s also important to tailor your resume to the specific position you are applying for. For example, let’s say Company A really values employees who have excellent written communication skills, while the advertisement for Company B highlights the importance of teamwork. In this case, your resume and application for Company A would focuses on experiences where you have demonstrated writing skills – maybe you write the monthly newsletter for the local sporting club, or perhaps you completed an internship for a business where you had to edit documents before they were sent to clients. For Company B, your focus would be more on examples of your teamwork skills – getting a high distinction for a team project at university, working as part of a large department in your part-time job or being a part of the local soccer team could all be used as examples here. You should still include your written communication abilities and additional skills, they just wouldn’t be the focus. For more excellent resume tips, visit the Resumes page on the Careers and Employment Service’s website
Become a part of your field
Becoming a member of the field or profession you’d like to be a part of can be helpful for a few reasons. It helps you gain a better understanding about what it really means to work in the industry – the types of daily tasks you would be taking on, the different professionals you would be working with and, importantly for the application process, the types of skills you might need to be successful. Plus, you’ll get a better idea about whether the position is really what you expected. Another great reason to become a part of the field are the networking opportunities – the best way to learn about, and eventually be employed in a position, is to talk to people who already have the job you’d like. Joining your field will also keep you up to date with the latest industry developments and help put you at ease when it comes to application and interview time – you’ll feel more prepared, and you might even be able to impress the interviewer with your knowledge!
So, how do you become part of your field? Here are some suggestions:
- Keep up to date with industry publications, this could be as simple as taking the time to read the textbook and set texts for your subjects. Your lecturers should also be able to point you in the direction of interesting publications
- Use social media: follow the companies and industries of interest on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – latest developments and interesting articles will come straight to your newsfeeds. How easy is that?
- If you have the opportunity to volunteer or complete an internship, take it! You will gain heaps of practical experience, you’ll get an insight into how the industry actually works, plus you’ll be able to meet and talk to people who are already employed in the jobs that you’re interested in.
I hope these tips help you in your graduate employment quest! Remember to be proud of your achievements, promote your skills and back it all up with a killer resume. Good luck and happy job hunting!