Our careers adviser Cath gives an overview of where to find opportunities and some of the steps you may have to face to move from student to employee. It includes lots of links to further advice and tips.
Finding your first job following graduation can be a nerve wracking notion. Some graduates are under pressure to take the first job that comes their way and will aspire for a role that will build on their (sometimes sparse) CV. For others they have specific career aspirations and aim to hunt them down. Some graduates decide that they need to take some time out and may have planned extended holidays, travel opportunities and experiences that may or may not include casual work.
Depending on which one you are (assuming you know this yet) will have an impact on your recruitment journey.
How to apply
If you are clear on the industry/sector of interest then the speculative approach is going to be key. Having a targeted CV and covering letter is crucial as you will send this out to employers of interest demonstrating that you are just what they need and you are interested in any opportunity on offer. Networking through social media, professional and academic contacts and using LinkedIn will all be in your career planning tool kit. Employer directories are another excellent way of having your readymade list of who to target. Remember to use news articles and company websites to find who are expanding or developing products and services as these may be more likely to have positions open.
Most readers will be aware of recruitment websites such as Target Jobs, Prospects, Milkround and Graduate jobs.com. Registering with these will allow you to receive notifications of matched vacancies. This is a great starting point. However if you have a specific area of interest then it important you are aware of the particular industry recruitment sites that exist. To find these Prospects job profiles can be really helpful. Take a look at their employer sections for links to some of the most popular websites.
What to expect
Finding a position to apply for, whether speculative or actual, is the start of the process which leads down several different paths. The employer will often require an online application form to be completed. These forms will vary but an employer will be looking for evidence that you have the required skills and talents to become a successful and useful employee. Using the STAR approach will effectively give your answer structure and clarity and employers appreciate.
Whether with an application form or not, you are likely to be asked to upload your CV and sometimes a covering letter. Remember, making sure it is targeted to the role applied for is crucial. CV masterclasses run throughout the year at 51A Park Place, booked through the intranet, as well as career sessions in schools run by your school careers adviser. If you have missed these, or require further support, then you can follow our tips online and then come in for a careers appointment.
Hopefully the CV you have sent will get you through to the next stage and what this is again can vary. Some employers may invite you for a phone interview at this stage or if a smaller employer you may be invited for a face to face interview.
However other, often larger employers will use various other means to first whittle down the hopeful. On-line assessments, such as verbal reasoning, numerical and literacy tests are a popular way to find if the applicant has the desired skill set. These can prove tricky to pass without practice. As a student of Cardiff University you have free access to an excellent resource of practice papers and tips. Make sure you log on using your university email to Graduates first.
Assessment centres are another means to testing candidates. These can include presentations and one to one interviews but will definitely have an emphasis on your team working skills. Tasks that will look at your collaborative skills may include an icebreaker, an etray/in tray exercise, a case study exercise or a group discussion. From the moment you enter an assessment centre your values and behaviours will be under scrutiny so be prepared, be friendly and professional to everyone you meet and try to be as relaxed as you can.
Keep calm and be positive
Applying for jobs can be both daunting and exciting. Chat to friends and family and you will hear dozens of stories of people’s first jobs after graduating. It is unlikely that many older people will still be with their first employer but during that first job they will hopefully have developed skills and made friends that helped them on their career path. We at careers and employability are here to support you all year round, including the summer so please come and see us and let us know at what point on the journey you are and how we can help.
Your feedback and help please
Have you found this blog post useful? Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and if there is anything further you’d like to know ask your questions there too.
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Cath, Careers Adviser.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and Money, Careers and Employability, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.