By Sara Spary
Whether you’ve spent three years with your head down studying or partying hard, you’ve now graduated and it’s time to get a job.
While some people go through education knowing exactly what they want to do for a living, others can feel a bit lost. Stepping into the world of work can be daunting, and the job market can be competitive. But the good news is that according to official figures, around 90% of graduates are in employment within six months.
We asked experts to share their top tips for securing your first career job.
Spend some time thinking about what you want to do and what you’re good at. Some people study to become architects or surgeons, and know exactly what they want to do for a living. But not everybody is certain.
Lots of jobs sites have tips about what you can do to start thinking about this. For example, Prospects has a free online
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Rid the internet of embarrassing social media posts. Remember all those photos of you and your friends doing shots? It’s best to delete those or make sure your profile is private before approaching prospective employers.
The first thing a recruiter is likely to do when you get in touch is Google you, McLean told HuffPost UK. “We live in a world of social and digital media, so people really need to look at their social social footprint.”
Essentially, make sure your digital self looks professional and employable. You don’t want a recruiter looking back through last year’s tweets and finding something you wouldn’t want to say now.
If you get to interview stage, really prepare for it. That means not only browsing the company website but going the extra mile by, for example, searching the news to learn what’s been written about the company or reading its annual report.
You should also prepare answers to common interview questions so that you aren’t caught off guard, and practice those answers in a mock interview if you can. When preparing answers, think about how you can communicate not only why you want to work for the company – but crucially, why they should hire you above anyone else.
Brain told HuffPost UK: “Work on the basis nobody owes you anything. Although you’ve come to the end of your education when you go into work you’re going to be at entry level and start all over again. The difference is this is now not your education, it’s your career.”
McClean added: “Think about your motivations and why you want to get into that industry. Your interview is basically a sales meeting.”
Don’t be disheartened if you get knocked back. Sometimes, navigating the world of work can feel like swimming up stream.
“There is an opportunity for every body, you’ve just got to find it,” Nicky Brain said. “If you got knocked back, it wasn’t meant to be. I know that’s philosophical but I truly believe that – because if you didn’t get it, more often than not the chemistry wasn’t right, which means the culture wasn’t right.
“If you get knocked back 99 times it just means you and that opportunity haven’t met yet, but you will. You’ve just got to keep going.”
Make a good impression in your new job or internship (starting with avoiding going crazy at work drinks). If you do secure an internship or land a new job, it’s important to continue to make a good impression. This means not only turning up on time and being dressed appropriately every day, but also being proactive, professional, and enthusiastic – even if all you get to do at first is make the tea and get to know the photocopier.
“Show that you are willing to learn and have a genuine interest in their business – don’t shirk from any responsibilities, try to seek out as much work as you can to show how keen you are,” McClean said. “You never know what it might lead to so don’t moan, don’t complain or write on Facebook how glad you are that it’s Friday.
“Also don’t have a work romance or go and get drunk with your colleagues.”
Nicky Brain added: “The first thing some businesses will think about is attitude, asking: are they interested, do they have good manners, are they willing to learn and do what it takes?
“Remember, especially in your first 3, 6, 12 months it’s still like an interview process. At no point should you rest on your laurels.”