No matter what stage of your studies you are at, it's never too early or too late to start thinking about life after graduating. Deciding which career path to choose, developing your application and interview skills and writing the perfect CV can be tricky. Being a well-rounded, work-ready graduate could really make you stand out from the crowd.
CUSU Scarborough have put together 7 top-tips for getting graduate ready.
1) Get some work experience
A good degree you have worked hard for definitely gives you a head start, but gaining some work experience is vital in getting you that dream job. Not only will this help you understand the industry you're working in but will also help you to develop transferrable skills ready for the workplace. You can also use this golden opportunity to network with current staff and gain some insider knowledge.
Coventry University's Talent Team can link you up with relevant work experience opportunities.
Sign up to the Talent Connect Portal through which you can connect with the Talent Team and access employability support such as appointments, events, and opportunities.
2) Upskill yourself with an online course
Always had something you were interested in learning more about? Been meaning to hone those skills or master a new software? Now is the time to do it. Taking your own time to learn something new demonstrates your initiative, drive and organisational skills to potential employers. In a climate where Covid-19 has had a huge impact on face-to-face opportunities, finding alternative ways like this to upskill yourself shows your commitment to your career.
Coventry University offers students free access to Linkedin Learning as part of their alumni benefits scheme. With hundreds of courses, this is a great place to start. Sign up today using your institution email.
3) Create your Online Presence and get networking
It's a well known fact that potential employers can look at your social media profiles to gauge whether you'd be a good fit for the company. Take the time now to make sure you're presenting yourself in a way you're happy with. Are your social media profiles employer friendly? Do they fit in with company values? What about your values?
Quick and easy ways to tidy your socials are adjusting your privacy settings, deleting any old photos you wouldn't want an employer seeing and updating that handles/email addresses you made back in school. To create a more professional account you could consider following organisations or professional bodies that interest you to keep up to date with industry developments.
A great way to network professionally is to get signed up to LinkedIn. Think social media for your professional industry. It's widely used for networking and sometimes employers can use this as a hiring tool. You can treat your LinkedIn account like your CV, update your achievements, share your experience and link up with companies that interest you. You can also build relationships with colleagues, friends and academic contacts who can act as your online references.
Before you graduate you can sign up to any of the NUS liberation groups.
If you identify as any of the 5 above groups, sign up to join and be kept in the loop with opportunities and developments in that area. Meet others and discuss your experience in Higher Education and the workplace.
4) Become a volunteer
Volunteering looks great on your CV and will give you an excellent bank of knowledge during interviews, particulary when answering those pesky scanario based questions. Don't worry if your volunteering opportunity doesn't have a direct link to your career choice, the transferrable skills you learn will stand you in good stead for any job. Employers are looking for workers who are great communicators, can work in a team, can prioritise workloads and have strong values. Giving back to your community through a volunteering position can show who you are as a person, giving your CV that little extra something to stand out in a competing job market.
There's lots of ways to identify volunteering opportunities in the local area. We often have visitors on site at CU Scarborough to chat about options. There's also great websites like Do-it and Community First Yorkshire.
Log any volunteering hours on the Students' Union website and you can be accredited when you graduate. You can also put yourself forward for a Leadership Award which recognises your involvement within extracurricular activities whilst studying.
5) Craft the perfect CV
It's a great time to start thinking about putting your CV together. All job applications will expect either a copy of your CV or information from it on an application form. This is your big chance to sell yourself and convince an employer that you are worthy of an invite to interview.
It is vital that the information on your CV is correct and up to date and shows the amazing things you have done to date. Consider the skills you have developed from your degree, work experience, extra-curriculur activities, volunteering and hobbies.
If you're ready to put your CV together but are struggling to know where to start, good resources are the Office for Students' (OfS) Graduate employment and skills guide and Milkround's How to Write a Graduate CV guide.
Coventry University's Talent Team offers 1-2-1 CV workshops. Sign up to the Talent Connect Portal to book an appointment to get started.
6) Tailor your application for every role
Chances are you will be applying for multiple roles at multiple companies which can sometimes mean many hours spent inputting similar information. We're under no illusion that applying for jobs can be an effort and it can be tempting to apply for each role in the same way, particularly when you've worked so hard to perfect your CV and personal statement. It's important to make sure you tailor your application to each role. Employers don't just want to know about you, they want to know exactly why you're the best fit for this specific role. You'll notice most job adverts come with a job description and person specification attached. This is the employer telling you exactly what skills the successful candidate needs and inviting you to tell them how your experience and knowledge demonstrate these skills. Chances of being invited to interview are a lot higher if you can show the individual employer that not only have you understood the position but also that you have put effort into showing how suitable you are for it.
7) Take care of yourself
Taking the journey from student to graduate can be an overwhelming one. There's so much to navigate from applying for job, making sure your CV is packed out, thinking of networking and still managing to stay on top of your studies and home life. It's important to take care of your health during this time.
Keeping on top of our mental and physical health can sometimes be harder than it sounds but simple ways to make sure you're considering your wellbeing are:
- Eat well
- Keep active
- Get enough sleep
- Socialise with people important to you
- Take regular breaks
- Ask for help if you need it
If you are feeling overwhelmed or burnt out during the process of getting graduate ready, there are lots of great services and resources to access to support your wellbeing. You can access support through CU Scarborough's welfare team or link up with others at Student Minds.