Applying for you first job after graduation?


Deciding on your first ‘proper’ job after university is a big decision. A few things that made my decision slightly easier are described below.


Whether you are still at university and getting a head start by exploring your options for next year, or whether you are a recent graduate with offers on the table but finding it challenging to decide which is right for you, here are some key factors which are worth thinking about.


My job search journey began around Christmas last year (during my final year at university) and I found that getting a head start allowed me more thinking space - I highly recommend anybody still at university to do the same. Making a decision will most likely be difficult and will require time and energy so being organised and knowing what you want is a good first step. But how do you know what you want and what is right for you? At the end of the day, this is new for you!


Aside from your parent-approved must haves, such as a good salary and benefits, other things to consider include:


What is the training like?
You want to work for an organisation that supports and encourages you to grow. In order to learn and grow you need great training, especially as a recent graduate with little or no commercial experience. This was one of the most important factors I considered when I was making my decision about who to apply for.


Career opportunities?
It is important to understand what your future with the company looks like. A good way to check whether the company offers this is by researching or asking questions about the existing team and their growth opportunities and/or promotions. How achievable is this? Who will be there to guide you through your growth? How quickly have other grads been promoted?


Company size, big vs small
Bigger companies usually have established ways of doing things including training, progression opportunities as well as the role you are required to do. They are also well-known, so working there will add value to your CV and could set you apart for future roles. Larger companies could also have the funds and resources for a wider range of benefits.
On the contrary, smaller businesses typically have less formality and can be more flexible. As well, you get to wear more hats working for a smaller company, exposing you to more job functions and giving you greater variety and responsibility in your role.

Ask yourself, how achievable are those promotions and which company size is more suitable to you as an individual?


Company culture
This is something that might be slightly tricky to figure out during the initial research or initial interviews, however some things to keep in mind when analysing this are the following:
Are the employees you meet happy to be working for that company? And with one another? And most importantly, do they feel like their work is valued? Do they have clear objectives for their next promotion? Most companies are now on Glassdoor, a useful website to get information about the company. Be open minded however, and make sure you look at the reviews overall rather than focusing solely on the negatives.


Values and vision
This remains one of the most important factors as you need to be passionate about what you are doing in order to be passionate about work. Do the company’s values match your own? If not, can you turn a blind eye to things that you might not feel that strongly about or agree with?
I want to conclude this blog by saying that applying for your first ‘proper job’ is not easy. The main thing is to be aware of what you want to gain out of the company or role that you have in mind and to be organised. Take charge and be organised.


Additionally, manage your own expectations. As a recent graduate with not much commercial experience you are likely to have to start from the bottom. Don’t let that put you off!

The next blog will be on managing your expectations when applying and landing your first job after graduating.

 

Graduating soon?


A number of opportunities await after graduation, but how do you decide which one is right for you? Getting a head start will give you more thinking space (and help you beat the competition!)


If you have read my previous blog, you would have seen that I have spent the past few months talking to graduates. What I am finding is that many are astounded at how difficult it really is to get a job in the field of their preference and the time this initial search is taking them . This comes as no surprise to me, since I was in a similar situation a few months ago. I've got to admit that I made sure to make every second count on my last semester, so I applied to jobs and opportunities quite early on.

You do not need the extra stress during your exams, so exploring your options and different avenues early on (preferably on your last academic year), puts you ahead of the competition and it means that you do not have to worry about it once you graduate. Imagine how good it must feel to have landed yourself a job knowing that all your focus and time can be put into your exams and organising your summer holiday? You do not want your 'last stress-free' summer holiday to be spent sitting in front of a computer applying for jobs and panicking.

As a previous graduate, who has gone through this and is now working full-time and speaking with graduates every day, I would suggest to start focusing on your post-graduate options now. The Christmas break is a brilliant opportunity to plan ahead. Below are a number of options which you could look at which might be helpful for recent or future graduates struggling to decide on a career path:

  1. Gap Year
    A change in location might give you a new focus and perspective. As well, traveling or accomplishing those things on your bucket list might be more difficult to achieve once you begin your full time employment. However, it is key to remember that a gap year is a great opportunity to gain new experiences and skills, whilst giving you time to reflect on what you want to do next, so feeling fulfilled by the end of it should be your aim. It will also help add additional 'life experience' to your CV which employers really value.
  2. Internship
    Internships offer the best of both worlds and are a great way to find out what working for an industry or a specific company involves. It is important to choose the right opportunity that gives you a good experience, especially since most internships are unpaid. This is also a great route to take before full-time employment.
  3. A Master's Degree programme
    This exposes you to a variety of subjects, aiding your personal development. If you decide to do a Master's degree then be sure that it fits with your long-term plans as it is not cheap. It is worth asking, will this help my employment prospects?
  4. Full time job
    Good for those who would like to go straight into work and put their theory into practice. This also allows you to start your career at an early stage, gain experience and earn money! However, if you are trying to put your degree to use and find a job within the field of your studies, bear in mind that it may be difficult to find the perfect role in a specific field. Finding your first 'proper job' is not easy so the idea of starting from the bottom should not put you off.
  5. It is all up to you
    There is no right or wrong answer. It is never too late to change your mind and chart a new way for your career. You will have gained so many transferable skills from university which will be relevant to many jobs. These jobs may not be immediately connected to your degree discipline but your degree will never go to waste. Some of these skills include things such as independence, critical thinking, organizational skills, team work, time management and many more. In our experience, many employers will be more interested in your interpersonal/life skills and abilities than your specific degree discipline.

Remember!

  • You have plenty of time if you get started soon
  • Do not compare yourself to your friends, your choice and decision is yours to make
  • You are definitely not alone

For those of you looking to go into full time employment after university, my next blog will give you a few tips on applying for your first 'proper' job, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

 

Grads, have you been applying for jobs but seeing no progress?


Recruiter to graduate guide, written by a recent graduate-turned-recruiter.


Only 6 months ago I was looking and applying for jobs myself, feeling rejected and not good enough.
Having been through intensive training as a recruitment consultant, I have now moved into my current role, recruiting graduates! During many conversations, I have been able to sympathise with the uncertainty in graduate's voices as they are trying to navigate their way through this new chapter.


The following tips are just a few which can help you stand out from a call list made up of hundreds of graduates. They are simple, effective and do not require much further research or work. Starting my journey as a recruiter, I quickly learned that the thoughts I had as a graduate, which included doubts over the skills I could offer to businesses full of experienced individuals, were far from reality. I have now discovered that graduates bring the flexibility, creativity, motivation and skills that a business needs to stay competitive and dynamic. Changing this mindset and incorporating some of the following tips could be your secret to success!

Set up a professional voicemail message
This is the first form of communication that recruiters will have if you happen to be away from your phone or, like most of us, are screening your calls! This will boost your credibility, make you seem more competent and encourage the caller to try you again. Keep it simple, short and to the point. Make sure you check your voicemails and text messages as most recruiters will try to call first before sending an email.

Have a conversation
When recruiters call they will be asking open ended questions. This is your opportunity to sell yourself, so do not take it for granted. Do not be scared to do most of the talking. If you get asked to talk about your current situation, try to provide some detail rather than a short answer. We like to know that people are capable of answering such questions and holding a natural and engaging conversation. Equally, the ability to communicate articulately is a skill many employers are looking for.


Naturally, your answers will vary, however a few tips include:
Currently working or in education (university) but looking for a new opportunity?
- Talk about what you are enjoying as well as what you are finding difficult (put a positive spin to this and think about what these tough situations have taught you).
- When making a point evidence it with examples, so mentioning figures and statistics is always a good idea such as KPIs, targets, number of assignments/exams completed
- What is important for you for your next role or any future plans you might have, for example studying abroad or any internships/training. (This will open up a new conversation as the recruiter will be able to tell you about the roles that they have available which might be suitable for you).

Unemployed and looking for a job?
-Previous employment and the things that you enjoyed there as well as the reason that you left (again, there could be many reasons for this however try to avoid blaming somebody else for your decision to leave work, and instead talk about everything you enjoyed and your transferable skills as a result of that job).
- If you are participating in any projects or events then talk about those
- Alternatively, feel free to talk about non-commercial elements such as your family, friends or hobbies/sport; we love it when personality comes through, just remember to keep the examples relevant.

Be aware of what is on your CV
As a recruiter, there is nothing worse than asking somebody to talk about their experience within their CV and hearing silence on the other side of the phone. A few tips to avoid the awkward silences include:
Know what is on your CV and be ready to talk about your roles and the companies that you worked for
If there are any gaps within your CV then address those. In order to represent you correctly, we need to understand the reasons behind any gaps.
If you would like to take this one step further and impress then try the following:
- Apply your experience to the job that you are seeking
- Talk about the organization's culture and how you would fit in
- What value can you bring to the organization which is different to other applicants

Ask questions
It is always favorable to ask questions at the end. This does three things, firstly, it shows that you have put some thought into your questions. Secondly, it increases your knowledge, allowing you to assess further if this position and company is right for you. Finally, it demonstrates enthusiasm and interest in the role!

Send a thoughtful follow-up note after your conversation
Sending a note that thanks the recruiter for their time and expresses your enthusiasm for the role goes a long way. A good tip is to mention something that you spoke about during the conversation. This not only shows commitment but it shows that you were paying attention!

I hope this is useful and will allow you to impress future recruiters. If you have found this useful, please feel free to comment and share as I would love to know what you guys think. If there is anything that you would like me to cover on my next blog post then please comment below with some topic ideas. Additionally, if you would like to know more about recruitment as a future career then please comment below or email me at [email protected]

Thank you.

 

Making the move into a Resourcing Career

After leaving university I, like many others, felt very uncertain about the career path I was looking to go down and where to get guidance from. If this is you, don’t worry you are not alone! I began to use the graduate job websites such as Milkround, Target Jobs and Indeed, to have a look at what was out there but I was still unsure whether I wanted to enrol onto a graduate scheme. There are a vast range of websites and tools you can use and to be honest it was a lot to take in. On graduation, I found myself in the leisure industry which I enjoyed for 2 years but ultimately knew that this wasn’t the industry for me long-term. When the opportunity arose to move into the world of resourcing and recruitment, I have to admit it was not an option I had considered before but I went into it with open eyes. It is fair to say that the recruitment industry does not have the best reputation. My initial views of a recruitment role were that the job involved a lot of cold calls to potential candidates, trying to contact them multiple times in one day, texting, emailing until you got through to them. My perception was that recruiters would send across your CV for a number of roles that may not even be suitable for you, suggesting a lack of knowledge around the role and as a candidate being unsuccessful on most occasions. I suppose my experience with a few recruitment agencies in the past meant that I thought all agencies were like this, but I now understand that this is not true. There is a lot more care and time taken in the process which I have learnt during my time with AdMore. So what does my role involve? It is hard to summarise the role into a sentence as it is more complex than you might think and the role often varies. In essence I would say it is a combination of three key components: Assisting in finding the perfect candidate - supporting the consultants in their search. In order to find this “perfect candidate” (ie. the one that gets the job!) it is important to first get a detailed and clear brief as to what the client is looking for and the culture of that company. It is all very well finding the perfect candidate on paper but they also need to fit culturally and finding the right balance can be difficult. Once the brief is understood we then go about using the various tools we have to start the search - this includes getting job ads out there, carrying out searches on social media sites and communicating with potential candidates. Along with this comes the challenge of keeping to strict timelines ensuring consultants have a good selection of candidates to speak with, as well as adapting the search to any changes within the brief. The first brief you search for may change during the course of the process based on feedback from the client and feedback from the consultant. It is key to keep up to date with these changes and keep communicating with the consultant to make sure this is fed through to the sourcing team. Social Media and Recruitment Tools - staying in the loop with the latest tools and advances in social media. Social Media plays a big part and is used in the sourcing team’s daily role. It’s continuously changing and keeping up to date with this is pivotal to our role and the way we search. There are the sites which most people will be familiar with such as LinkedIn or tools such as using Boolean strings in your search, but it is also about finding new tools which can open up new doors to find even more relevant candidates. A recent tool which has been very useful in our recent projects is called ‘Prophet’ and is an extension available on Google Chrome; the tool can be used with a LinkedIn profile and searches the web to find a relevant email address for the profile. Tools such as this help to save time in carrying out the usual email search process and can open up paths to even further information. The power of social media will continue to grow and within sourcing it is important to utilise this as much as possible. To check out our blog on what makes a great sourcer for more information; Click here. Continuous Learning From understanding the difference between area management and buying and merchandising roles to building your knowledge of the Retail & Hospitality industries, there is so much personal learning and development to do in the role. Particularly for those of us who have not had any experience in recruitment it has changed the way I look at Retail, Hospitality and Leisure. Even walking down the high street my eyes have been opened to a whole different side of things. With bundles of specialist knowledge in our team I am constantly learning new things everyday which helps me to better myself and improve my knowledge. Asking questions and making mistakes is all part of the learning and development process but it is all about pushing yourself to continue doing this. Has sourcing been the right move? Having been in the role for 6 months I’m happy to say that the move for me has been the right one; both in terms of the job and the company culture. My initial views of recruitment agencies has been changed and I now see that the right agencies will take time to get to know the clients and their company culture as well as understanding their candidates, their experience and what they are looking for in a role. Now I work in sourcing I have also had the opportunity to view the job search process from the other side. I have a better understanding of what is involved in finding the right person for a job and have also been able to use my previously negative experience as a candidate to create a more positive communication channel with the candidates I speak with. So if you have recently graduated from university and you find yourself in a similar situation to me, my advice to you is to take your time and consider your options. Make sure you do your research around an industry/company and don’t rule out industries based on reputation or hearsay - different companies have different cultures. It is important to find the right one that suits you and if you are open to a role within sourcing I would recommend taking the leap. For more tips on what to do when you graduate, check out our blog
 

Interview tips for Graduates and School Leavers

By Sophie Mackenzie, AdMore Recruitment

I had a ‘milestone’ birthday recently. Not so much key to the door but needing to change the locks! It has made me rather reflective. It seems only yesterday that I graduated and started frantically applying for jobs, partly because of pressure from my parents who were keen for me to start earning as soon as possible but mainly so I could maintain the independence I had started to appreciate at University and which was being decidedly cramped by moving back home to share a room with my younger sister.

With an estimated one in five 16- to 25-year-olds currently out of work (according to figures from the Office for National Statistics)it is so important, with competition so fierce for fewer vacancies, that candidates give themselves the best possible chance of impressing at interview.

As a company, we recruit at executive level however, we are regularly asked by our contacts or indeed our own friends and family for advice on behalf of people starting their career, so we thought it was worth revisiting these key points:

Look the part

Unless applying for a role in the creative/performing arts or in creative media, the dress code for any corporate interviews will be business dress. It is still the case that people make judgements based on appearance and so you must make sure that you look impeccable. This doesn’t mean getting into further debt buying an expensive suit. High Street stores like Next, M&S and Primark do classic suits at incredible prices. Shirts should be clean and ironed, shoes clean and polished. If wearing a tie, learn to tie a proper Windsor knot (a big fat knot or a skinny tie won’t look corporate enough, neither will a tie which finishes half way down your shirt!). Click here for a video guide to Windsor knots from our friends at House of Fraser!  Hair should be clean and tidy. Gents – you should be clean shaven – no excuses. Keep jewellery to a minimum and tattoos well hidden. This isn’t about stifling your individuality rather than ensuring that what you say is what is remembered rather than how you look.

First impressions

You wouldn’t believe how many people don’t greet an interviewer with a smile. This is SO important and will say so much about you as a person and about how you will potentially be perceived by future colleagues, customers and clients. It is widely accepted that people hire people they like and so, like it or not, one of your jobs in an interview is to get them to like you as well as demonstrate your suitability for the role. Your smile should reach your eyes and this will also help you overcome the inevitable nerves.

Practice your handshake. There are people, myself included, who have a negative opinion of someone with a weak handshake. It simply speaks volumes. A firm handshake with a warm smile and eye contact says several things. That you are confident. That you want to be there. That you are interested in the person you are meeting. You will only fully realise the negative effect of this when you are on the receiving end!

Body Language

Approximately 70% of communication is non-verbal and so take care that your body is not letting you down! Sit up straight, don’t fidget, keep hands relaxed on your knee. Don’t lean too far back – you may look too laid back or even worse, arrogant. Getting your posture right will make you look interested, keen and confident even if you are very nervous!

Do your research

Not doing your research on the company is unforgiveable. Information is so readily available online and you should learn quickly where to access that information. The company website should give you oodles of information (but take care not to recite this in the interview - it’s too easy, you need to show that you’ve worked harder to set yourself apart from the crowd). Look for press articles, make sure you understand who their competitors are and how they are performing. Research your interviewers on Linkedin. Check out Glassdoor.co.uk for employee reviews and interview tips. If you are applying to a company led by a well known figure, make sure you have read their autobiography. A classic (if a little clichéd) interview question is ‘which business leader do you most admire and why’. To give an answer without having done your research will not set you apart from the masses.

Difficult questions

There are many different types of interviews ranging from structured competency based interviews to informal ‘audition’ style assessment processes. One thing is certain, you will be faced with some questions that are really tricky. This may be because they are ‘off the wall’ eg. if you were a biscuit what kind would you be (yes, this really happened!) or because they are potentially controversial eg. "why did you drop out of your course/switch courses?"

Again, there are plenty of resources online which give examples of tricky questions so doing your research will help. If the worst comes to the worst and you simply go blank, simply say "I’m sorry, I need to reflect on this question, please could we come back to it later?" This will buy you some time which is useful for those ‘abstract’ questions. If you simply do not know the answer, then say so. Trying to blag your way through could leave a negative impression. Also, the ability to be honest about what you do and don’t know (while showing a willingness to learn of course) is a quality most employers will admire and understand in a school leaver or grad.

Know your subject

If you are applying for a University place or a Grad Scheme and have completed a Personal Statement focusing on your interest in a specific subject, make absolutely sure that you can elaborate in detail about any points you make in your statement. You can be sure that a savvy interviewer will focus on these points and chances are, they will know more about it than you. By reading around your subject and keeping abreast of current affairs, you should avoid getting caught out. For instance, if you are applying for a place at medical school and mention your deep interest in a field of medicine, make sure that you know of any medical advances that have been made which have hit the headlines. Equally, if applying for a Grad scheme at a major retailer, make sure you know the current share price and the latest profit results. You may also be asked for your opinion so again, be prepared to explain your position on potentially controversial subjects which involve taking an ethical standpoint.

Know yourself

Interviewing well is a skill that can be learned and of course honed with experience. However, even in your first ever interview, the one thing that you should be able to talk confidently about is you. This does take some preparation however. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and write down your achievements (at school, university or in your spare time). Think about what made you successful and what you enjoyed about these successes – was it the sense of achievement you felt when you completed a project or was it the buzz of working as part of a team? What role did you play, what did you do well and what could you have done better? Ask your parents, teacher, tutors, friends and peers what they consider to be your strengths and weaknesses and think about how you can ‘package’ these to be attractive to a prospective employer. Remember, you are there to sell yourself and the key to selling anything well is to know the ‘product’ inside out. Most of all, you must be passionate about it!

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