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8 ways to land a grad job

by Hannah Jones

So, you’ve just graduated and moved back to your parents’ house. Oh no. 

But, no more lectures, no more assignment deadlines, no more library all-nighters – YOU’RE FREE!

Oh wait, does that mean you actually have to get a job now?

Well, that’s exactly what this blog might help with.

Just last week, I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a first-class degree in PR & Marketing. I had my last exam on Tuesday 16th May and started my full-time contract here at No Brainer on Wednesday 17th May (so, unfortunately not too many post-exam jaeger bombs for me).

It can be scary walking into a job straight after uni but it can also be incredibly exciting. I’ve been extremely fortunate to find a job that I love so quickly, but I know it can be a challenge. All the research, planning, applications and interviews can be daunting, but it’s worth it to land a job that you feel so passionately about.

Based on my experience, I’ve pulled together some top tips to help any prospective employees secure a great grad job.

  1. DON’T BELIEVE THE HEADLINES – THERE ARE JOBS OUT THERE

The reality is that doom and gloom makes headlines. There are hundreds of disheartening headlines every few weeks, deeming Britain an unemployment hotbed, with stories around graduates struggling to find work.

The reality though, is that businesses are looking to hire fresh talent, that is so clearly out there.  So, don’t settle. Apply for anything and everything that takes your fancy and you might surprise yourself.

  1. EMPLOYERS WANT MORE THAN A FIRST

With more students than ever graduating university with a first-class degree, it’s so important that you start to differentiate yourself from the competition.

You’ve probably been bombarded by your university’s employability team with hundreds of work experience opportunities; but can you really be bothered to make brews and update spreadsheets for a week when the new season of Power is on Netflix?

Well, like it or not, coming to an employer with a degree and a reference from your Dad definitely won’t stand you out from the crowd.

Work experience might seem like an effort at the time but can leave you with valuable connections, a new skill or two and will always give you an edge over other grads.

  1. BIGGER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER

Graduate schemes at huge corporate companies seem to be the ‘go-to’ for most grads, but they definitely aren’t the be-all and end-all. I’m trying my best not be biased here, but working for a small (but growing) start-up business is the best decision I’ve ever made.

So, you don’t always have to Google “PR jobs at Disney” or compete with 40 other graduates in a two-day gruelling assessment centre to land a job you’ll love.

  1. KNOW YOUR STUFF

No matter how many buzzwords you’ve remembered or how many models or theories you know, you’ll only ever impress employers if you can apply them.

Talk about theory but prove how it can used in the real working world. For example, explain how a SWOT analysis can be used during campaign planning, how AMEC frameworks can be used for evaluation or how inverted pyramid structures can help you write a press release.

I’ve been surprised by the amount of university learnings which can be applied to my new job. One of my best pieces of advice would be to use anything you’ve picked up and think of ways in which you could apply it to the role you’re applying for.

  1. BE PERSONAL

Just as important as knowing what you’re talking about, similarly, taking a personalised approach to job hunting will go a long way.

Being pro-active and getting in touch with a company you like the sound of is the first step. However, finding out the names of each member of the team (or at least the person you’re contacting) and commenting on some of their clients or award wins will show a potential employer that you’ve really gone out of your way to do your homework on the company.

  1. KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR LINKEDIN CONNECTIONS CLOSER

I probably wouldn’t have my job without LinkedIn.

Finding a company that takes your fancy and direct messaging the director or HR manager on LinkedIn can be overwhelming at first, but it’s a step in the right direction – even if it only means they remember your name during the application process.

Some employers really love candidates that take the pro-active approach to career hunting. It’s your job to make them want you; before they realise they need you!

Just maybe make sure your profile picture isn’t a night-out selfie with a Cosmo in your hand.

  1. YOUR INDUSTRY IS LIKE CORRIE – EVERYBODY KNOWS EVERYBODY

I’ve quickly learnt that the world of PR is small and just like the streets of Wetherfield, everyone is connected to each other in some way!

I’m guessing your chosen industry will be the same. People talk and good manners and a positive attitude will only ever serve you well.

So, although it might not work out with one employer, I’d definitely advise trying to make a great impression on them. Follow up with professional, friendly emails and stay on their radar through social etc. You never know, they might recommend you to someone else…

  1. BE ORGANIC

Just because you’re not a student any longer, doesn’t mean you should stop doing things on the cheap.

Prove your skills in any way you can and be a self-starter. Whether that’s writing your own blog, volunteering at a relevant organisation, shadowing other professionals or running a popular Twitter account; there are so many ways to showcase your talent.

Be bold and brave and shout about how good you are. Employers rarely see ‘the perfect candidate’, so focus on what great things you can offer them, rather than anything you can’t.

Now get yourself out there, schmooze, connect, grab a coffee, blog, be polite, be grateful, graft… And may the odds be ever in your favour. 

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