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How to stand out as a graduate
Once you've received your degree and ceremoniously tossed your cap up in the air, your life as a student comes screeching to a halt. Your next step is to put the past few years of hard work to good use and find a job.
The unfortunate part about the graduate job hunt is that everyone with a degree similar to yours is now a rival, looking to take your dream job right from under your feet. Luckily, there are ways to differentiate yourself from the thousands of graduates looking to make a break into every industry available.
Find your USP
In the world of work, no two candidates are the same and it's your job to find and exploit your unique selling point (USP).
If you're applying for a writing job such as a journalist or copywriter and you spent last summer writing for an online publication, then that's a unique selling point. You've already separated yourself from a lot of candidates, showing that not only did you actively seek writing work, you also learnt some valuable skills regarding online publishing; an important skill in this digital age of the media.
Be sure to make your unique selling point visible on your CV and covering letter. This makes it more likely for the employer to mention it during the interview, allowing you to stress how it makes you the most suitable candidate for the role. If you find yourself struggling to create a CV which stands out from the crowd, there is a selection of CV writing services available to you, we reviewed a range of graduate CV services.
In a job interview, first impressions are everything, it gives potential employers an insight into who you really are. A 2013 survey of 500 employers featured on The Telegraph showed that 80% gave candidates just 10 minutes to impress them before coming to a decision.
To make the most of these precious 10 minutes, make sure you arrive fully equipped with enough information about the company to leave the interviewer remembering you as a well-informed, confident candidate. If you want tips on how to successfully research a company before an interview, be sure to check out our previous article on the topic.
CVs may be seen as an archaic way to present yourself to your employer, but it is still the first thing an employer sees and how they initially judge you. With this in mind it is important to create an engaging, well written CV that celebrates your accomplishments and achievements. Employers are constantly reading about how their potential employees are 'hard working' so try to avoid overused phrases including those.
Instead of just listing a selection of skills, try to provide evidence of times you utilised them. However, be wary not to turn your CV stale with comments like:
"Wrote articles for a growing online publication"
Instead, utilise the synonym function supplied by Microsoft Word to turn a stale statement into something more engaging:
"I sourced and wrote high quality news stories for a rapidly expanding online publication"
Social media is not just for sharing holiday photos, it's also a great way to keep connected with people and businesses in the sector you want to work in.
Linkedin offers a facebook-esque approach to professional marketing allowing you to connect with professionals in your preferred sector, attracting employers' attention whilst also receiving email alerts for possible job roles. To utilise Linkedin to your advantage make sure you keep your account updated with your latest professional information, post statuses to keep your connections engaged with your profile and make sure to join and participate in groups relevant to your sector.
Despite social media offering an immense amount of opportunities for recent graduates, it can also harm your chances. Make sure your personal accounts are protected, you don't want employers to be seeing the poolside 'Hot dogs or legs' selfies you took whilst on holiday. For more advice on how to stop social media from affecting your jobs prospects, take a look at our previous article on social media.
Being a recent graduate is not easy as companies have thousands of recent graduates to choose from. However, by following this advice you should now have a greater chance to separate yourself from the rest of the rabble you once called classmates.