Get that job!

When it comes to completing a stand-out application you may need to display the same stamina and determination you showed in completing your studies.

Employers need to know why you may be a good fit for their particular company or organisation. Your focus has to be on reassuring them that they've found the right person – you!

Forget generic applications

We have all heard demoralising stories of new graduates sending out hundreds of applications before they get their first interview.

Yes, there may be a great deal of competition out there, but scattergun approaches and sending generic CVs into the ether are definitely not the best uses of your time.

Carefully tailored applications are far more likely to get you an interview, so think quality not quantity.

The process can be time consuming, as you research your target and relate your skills and knowledge to their needs, so unless you have to, resist the knee-jerk reaction to apply for anything remotely connected to your area of interest. Be discerning about where you invest your energy.


Video - CVs and applications

Do your homework

It goes without saying that you need to read the details of the position carefully, but do try to read between the lines too.

Is it right for you? Are you right for the job at the moment?

If you're still really interested you could of course go for it anyway – so long as you appreciate the gamble and the potential toll on your time and confidence.


Information online - Labour market intelligence

Have a plan

You need to start thinking of yourself as a product.

A product that a company might like to buy or certainly invest in, because essentially that's what they are doing when recruiting a graduate.

You need to evidence what you can do, what benefits you would bring to the employer and why you are better than any alternative products on the market - ie other graduates competing for that opportunity.

To do this you will need to be able to:

  1. Understand your key skills, ambitions, personality and experience.
  2. Decide what you want to do or what you'll be best suited at.
  3. Research the graduate job market in which you are going to sell yourself.
  4. Understand what types of graduate job are available and where to pitch yourself.
  5. Find out how the selection process works and use this knowledge to create the best application package.
  6. Get your CV together, start job hunting and targeting employers.
  7. Brush up on your interview technique and think about how you will evidence your ability.
  8. If assessment centres are part of the selection process, find out what you can expect - and prepare.

A systematic approach like this will be your best chance of success.

Watch and read:

Video - Networking - Information online - Psychometric tests - Video - Assessment centres - Information online - Assessment centre tests

Think competencies

As well as displaying your knowledge of their industry and business, prospective employers are looking for evidence of how you are likely to behave at work.

How can you ensure that your cover letter or CV reflects the extra skills and competencies needed for the job you're applying for?

Be specific about how any extracurricular experience adds value to your skillsets and professional profile.

Gather your strongest evidence, examples or case studies which prove the point, as you may well be asked to justify your claims at interview.

Watch and read:

Video - Skills: doing what you love - PDF - How to write a CV - PDF - How to write a covering letter

Take your time

It will be worth taking the time to be as thorough and careful as you can in each application.

It may also help your morale to expect it may take some time to secure your first interview – then when your first efforts are rewarded you may be nicely surprised.

Be bolstered by the fact that every effort will help you refine your skills, to develop your focus and resilience, and to understand more about your chosen field.

Ask Careers

Graduates benefit from ongoing support from the university; for as long as you need it.

If you need help you can get personal 1-to-1 help available through our online service.

Just Ask Careers.


Based on information published by the Guardian - Graduate survival guide: how to get your first job - 3 June 2014 and content provided by