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How to get your first job after university

How to get your first job after university

Looking for your first job after university can be a nerve-wracking experience. There’s hundreds of other students just like you, possibly looking at the same jobs, at the same time. You’ll probably ask yourself, ‘How can I stand out from the crowd?’

After four years teaching at university and working alongside students going through this transition, I’ve learned that many just don’t play to their strengths when applying for that all-important first job. So here are my top five tips to help you get your foot in the door.

  1. Internships and unpaid work experience

If your industry or profession provides opportunities for internships or unpaid work experience while you’re studying then make sure you take advantage of those opportunities. It might be difficult to juggle this with your paid work, studies and the rest of your life but I promise you it will be worth it. In today’s competitive market, employers are looking for graduates who can hit the ground running with practical skills. Internships and work experience in the ‘real world’ will give you an edge.

I’d also recommend that you complete this work for a diverse range of organisations. This will increase your flexibility, skill set and provide you with a broader perspective on the opportunities available in your industry. This is a time to keep your mind open and not restrict yourself.

Once you get an internship or an unpaid position, give it everything you can. Go the extra mile. Show up early, work your backside off and be a sponge – i.e. listen, listen, listen. Then ask questions. If you impress your employer then they’re more likely to consider you for a paid position or recommend you to others.

  1. Talk to people

A lot of people like to throw the word ‘networking’ around. But to me that seems like such a shallow term and very inauthentic. Instead, I recommend that you talk to people. If your industry runs social events, attend them. If there’s a professional association you can join, then join up and attend the events. Talk to your lectures and tutors about their experiences.

I’d also recommend that you’re always, always yourself. Be your fabulous and genuine self whenever you talk to people. Get to know them and share a little bit about yourself, where you want to go and what you want to contribute. Pretending to be someone you’re not because you want to impress is just not sustainable. Be you.

By talking to people you will learn more about your profession and the people who work in it. And they will learn about you. It’s a win-win situation that will help you to build connections and learn about unadvertised opportunities.

  1. Develop an awesome resume

Make sure your resume looks professional and don’t lie about what you can do because you will be found out eventually. I’d also recommend including all your relevant volunteer, internship or work experience.

I often see students place little or no value on their part-time jobs when they write their resume. But this is a mistake. I promise there will be elements in your part-time work that are relevant to your first professional job. For example, if you work in a call centre doing customer service then you are using systems, managing confidential information, negotiating and trouble-shooting with customers, and demonstrating your capacity to work flexible hours. It’s all about breaking down the actual tasks in your part-time role and understanding how these can be used in your next role.

Your resume should briefly summarise each of your previous roles and highlight your achievements.

  1. Make your cover letter count

When you see a job you want, read the key points carefully and make sure you address all of them in your cover letter/application. You will need to include examples of when you have demonstrated the skills they’ve highlighted. Be specific and succinct. A good cover letter is tailored to meet the specified requirements of the role. Try to use the key terms they’ve used in the advertisement in your letter/application as this will signpost relevant information for the employer.

  1. Apply for jobs you actually want

It can be easy to get a little panicky and simply apply for any job you see, even the ones you’re not really interested in and not really qualified for. This approach is not helpful and will simply mean you waste a lot of energy focusing on the wrong things.

Instead, consider and research the organisations you’d like to work for and the types of roles you’re interested in. Then realistically assess your current skills and experience and apply for the jobs you actually want. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom (that’s where you’ll learn the most). I’d also recommend calling the organisations you’re interested in even if they don’t currently have positions advertised. This will enable you to make personal contact with potential employers, demonstrate your interest and help you to gain information about their recruitment processes and expectations.

If you found this information helpful, don’t forget to check out this week’s post by Bec Smith, Personal Stylist on getting through your first work week in style. It’s part of our weekly Monday series called Revamp your Career.

If you need help with your resume or styling for the workplace, Bec and I are offering 10% off Resume Revamp and Styling Packages until 30 September 2016. We’d love to hear from you.

Top Five Interview Tips

Top Five Interview Tips

You’ve applied for that dream job and your moment to shine is in two days…the interview. Now it’s time to prepare. Here are my top five tips for making the best first impression.

  1. Learn everything you can about the organisation, its key staff and clients (i.e. make Google your friend). This information will enable you to provide insightful answers and help you to ask well-informed questions during the interview.
  2. Brainstorm the top 10 questions you might be asked, then practise your responses. Also make sure you are prepared to succinctly and eloquently discuss and present (when necessary) relevant work examples from your previous roles. Your responses should outline your particular skills and achievements (i.e. you may have worked in a team but you need to highlight what you specifically contributed).
  3. Prepare two or three questions in advance that will demonstrate your understanding of the role and the organisation (see tip 1). This is where you can also learn more about particular aspects of the business you are interested in.
  4. Arrive 15 minutes early and be dress appropriately (see today’s post by Bec Smith, The Personal Stylist’s on dressing to impress). Running late will make you look unprofessional and will stress you out. Make sure you check public transport and/or parking details, arrange your outfit and collate any relevant paperwork or electronic files the day before your interview. Also ensure your phone is turned off before you enter the building.
  5. Make a good first impression. Greet each panel member by name, shake his/her hand firmly and maintain good eye contact. Remember, this is your chance to shine so be confident, friendly and relaxed. Also ensure that everyone you meet (from the receptionist to the panel members) can tell you have a positive attitude and are excited about the opportunity work for the organisation.

Don’t forget to check out today’s post by Bec Smith, The Personal Stylist on What to Wear to Your Next Job Interview (part of our collaborative weekly Revamp Your Career series). #10%offResumeRevamp&StylingPackagesuntil30Sept2016

Next week’s Revamp Your Career post will focus on getting that important first job when you graduate from university.

Top 5 Resume Fails

Top 5 Resume Fails

A strong resume (or curriculum vitae) is a vital document when you apply for that dream job. Unfortunately, I constantly see clients make the same resume errors time and time again. It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive looking for promotion, a recent graduate or someone looking to make a career transition, there are common resume fails that can be avoided.

Top 5 Resume Fails

  1. Spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. These will make you look unprofessional. If you’re unsure, ask a friend to proofread your resume before you send it to your next potential employer.
  2. Copying information from you current job/position description and including it in your document. This approach will produce a resume that is generic and doesn’t showcase your unique skills or contributions.
  3. Promoting your employer instead of yourself. A recruiter wants to know what you can offer. They are not interested in the intricate details of your previous employer’s success unless you can connect it back to your achievements, skills and experience. Use your resume to promote you.
  4. Chronic underselling. Make sure you highlight a few key achievements in each role that showcase your strengths. Don’t simply list your responsibilities as they appeared in the role description as this won’t provide the recruiter with any real insights about who you are and what you can do.
  5. Bad fonts and layout issues. Sometimes people get carried away and over-complicate their resume with multiple fonts (two different types is enough), small fonts (no smaller than 10 point please!), too much information on one page or formatting errors. Keeping it simple will help ensure your application looks professional and is easy to read.

Do you need help with your resume? Check out my Resume Revamp services today. #10%offResumeRevamp&StylingPackagesuntil30Sept2016

Make sure you check out Bec Smith, Personal Stylist’s post on Corporate wear doesn’t need to be boring (part of our collaborative Revamp your Career series every Monday).

Revamp your Career

Every Monday for the next few weeks, my good friend Bec Smith – the Personal Stylist and I will be teaming up to share our tips on resumes, interviews, choosing the right outfit for your job, making a career change, and getting you through the first week of your new job fashion-wise. We’ll also look at returning to work after having a baby (how to get yourself out the door in the morning and still look fabulous with less time to prepare) and what to do with your LinkedIn profile and photograph. Check out this blog or our Facebook pages Lucretia’s Words or Bec Smith Personal Stylist from Monday, 22 August.

#10% off Resume Revamp and Styling Packages until 30 September 2016.