Finding a job is hard. It requires patience and persistence. This is especially true if you are fairly new to the working world and don’t have much work experience under your belt. These tips can help to make job hunting easier.
Ten well-crafted applications are better than a hundred random ones
The scattergun approach to finding a job can be tempting, but it’s a waste of time. Any good employer can tell when this is what you’re doing, and it won’t make you look good. Plus, all that time you’re spending sending random applications to jobs that aren’t a good fit is time you could be spending searching for roles that are.
Follow the 80% rule on job applications
A person specification (the description of the kind of person a company want in a specific role) is often a wish-list and not everything on there will be an absolute must-have. The 80% rule says that if you meet 80% or more of the criteria for a job, you should apply. (Be sensible, though: if it says a PhD is a necessity and you only have A Levels, you’re unlikely to get very far!)
DID YOU KNOW? Research shows that men are much more likely than women to apply for jobs where they only meet some of the requirements.
Tailor your CV and cover letter to each job
Connected to this last point, do not be tempted to just send the same CV and cover letter to every job. Hiring managers can tell and they don’t like it. Instead, take the time to tweak your CV for each job (which skills or experience you’re emphasising will be slightly different) and write a new cover letter which directly references the job description and person specification.
Use LinkedIn… strategically
LinkedIn, for those not familiar, is essentially a professional version of Facebook. You can connect with people at companies you’re interested in, learn more about different types of jobs that are out there, and even use it to apply directly for some roles.
A word of caution: don’t spam message everyone at a company you’re interested in, don’t try to use LinkedIn to circumvent the company’s stated hiring process, and don’t ask someone to recommend you when they don’t know you.
What you can do, though, is reach out and ask people with interesting sounding jobs if they’d have ten minutes to tell you a little more about what they do. Most people will be flattered to be asked.
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself
It can be tempting, when you’re job hunting, to squeeze yourself into roles that really aren’t a good fit. Don’t do this – you’ll be unhappy and you won’t be good at the job. Instead, get really honest with yourself about where your skills are and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Recruiters can help with finding a job
Recruitment agencies exist to help people find jobs. They make a commission (paid for by the company, not the employee!) when they successfully place someone in a job.
Reach out to relevant recruitment agencies in your area. There are lots of them and they work in different business areas. An example is VHR Recruitment. They are a Youth Friendly Employer and can help you find a job – or you can even attend their Academy to become a recruiter yourself!
You shouldn’t have to pay recruiters anything to help you find a job (if they ask you to, run). Even chatting to an experienced recruitment consultant for half an hour can provide you with invaluable guidance and insight which will help you on your job search.
Use your contacts
You probably already know people who can help you. Has your friend got a job they like, or are they doing well in their career? Ask if you can buy them a coffee and pick their brains. If there was a teacher or professor at your school or University who you had a great relationship with, try reaching back out to them and see if they have any tips or advice. Even people like friends of family members might be willing to help you if you approach them in the right way.
Consider a graduate scheme, apprenticeship or other training
Graduate schemes place new graduates in job roles which are often time-limited (typically 1 – 2 years) and you receive training at the same time as earning a salary. Graduate schemes exist in many different business areas, from hospitality to banking, and are often the springboard to a brilliant career for dedicated participants.
If a hands-on, practical job is more your thing, an apprenticeship pays you a salary while training you in a trade which results in an industry-recognised qualification and can lead to a career.
Consider your long-term career prospects…
Considering the job progression paths that are open to you can be really important when you’re early in your career. It’s completely fine to ask “what are the progression prospects for this type of role?” when you’re interviewing for a job or just learning more about a potential role. A job with few or no promotion prospects is absolutely fine if all you want to do is pay the bills and put food on the table, but if you have larger career ambitions then progression is something you should have on your radar.
…but be open minded
Jobs can lead you to unexpected places – and this is a good thing! Ask about progression and seek roles with good prospects in your chosen field, but don’t be overly attached to one specific path. A lot can change in a few years and you might find a line of work you completely love that you hadn’t thought of, or find that what you thought would be your dream job isn’t quite so perfect after all.
Look after yourself and pace yourself
Again, job hunting is hard, especially when you’re at the beginning of your career. You may need to send out lots of applications before you get the right one. You probably can’t do all this in a day or a weekend! One strategy might be to commit to applying for a certain number of jobs per week.
You should listen to yourself and pay extra attention to taking care of yourself while job hunting. This includes eating well, getting plenty of rest, taking care of your mental health, and making sure you take time to do things you enjoy.
You can do it! Finding the right job is not easy, but the pay off can be an amazing career that you absolutely love and that takes you to places you never imagined. And we think that’s worth it.