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What are the best ways to find a graduate job in 2020?

Nearly 75,000 students can’t be wrong! Gain key tips from the Graduate Survey 2019 about how to get a graduate job and how to boost your employability.

We’ve picked the brains of 74,746 students to bring you four key tips about how to get a graduate job this year – essentially we have created a four-point action plan for you to make your job search easier.

  1. Get work experience
  2. Attend careers events
  3. Make social media work for you
  4. Work out what’s important for you

And how did we get access to those 74,746 brains? They took part in the Graduate Survey 2019, which is conducted by Trendence UK (a fellow business of TARGETjobs’ parent company) and is the largest survey of student and graduate attitudes towards employers and their job hunts.

Action: get any and all work experience possible

The work experience I have:

The work experience I have statistics graphic

  • 46% of final-year students had completed an internship.
  • 68% of final-year students had undertaken a part-time job.
  • 53% of final-year students had completed voluntary/charity work.
  • 28% of final-year students had been appointed to a leadership position in a student society.

Advice: Don’t fall into the same trap of thinking that the only form of work experience that counts is the formal internships and placements organised by big employers in the sector(s) you are interested in. Part-time and zero-hour contract work, freelancing, work-shadowing days, volunteering, open days, joint research projects with industry or getting actively involved with the running of a student society are just as valuable.

If you are interested in a particular sector, gaining work experience in that field is advantageous because many recruiters fast-track former interns’ applications for their graduate schemes. However, many recruiters don’t require a CV full of obviously industry-related experience because they expect candidates to use work experience to help decide between sectors; they are primarily interested in your skills, no matter where you gained them.

Action: Get whatever work experience you can and then sell it in your applications by stressing the transferable skills you gained and what you learned from the experience. Read:

Action: attend as many careers events as possible

I've attended:

I've attended statistics graphic

  • 74% of survey respondents had attended a careers fair.
  • 22% had attended an employer networking event and 10% an invitation-only event.
  • 10% had not attended any type of careers event asked about in the survey.

Advice: Don’t be one of the 10% who haven’t attended any events. Investigate and attend as many relevant careers events as possible, both on and off campus – whether that event is a company presentation, a networking dinner, a careers fair, a diversity event (which is aimed at a particular demographic, eg BAME students) or a careers workshop run by your careers service.

Action: Start by looking on your careers service website to find events, open days and workshops that might interest you. If you are interested in a particular employer, check their early careers recruitment webpages to see if they are running any events. Browse the events run by TARGETjobs, too. If you need to book or go through an application process to confirm a place, make sure you do so as early as possible. Do some research on the employer or sector before you attend so that you have a base of knowledge to start with and can think of some good questions to ask the speakers. Browse:

Action: professionalise your social network

I've used the following social media platform for careers purposes:

Use of social media for careers statistics graphic

  • 79% of survey respondents have used LinkedIn for careers purposes.
  • 20% have used YouTube for careers purposes.
  • All of the social media brands listed above have increased in use year-on-year, with the exception of Facebook, which fell 4%.

Advice: Many employers use LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to present and share information and news, so you can access these platforms to get a good feel for employers’ culture. You can also use LinkedIn to contact professionals working in fields or for employers that interest you – you can begin by sending them a tailored message explaining that you are interested in their employer or sector (as appropriate) and that you'd like to gain insights or tips from them.

Action: Create a ‘professional persona’ online so that if an employer Googles you they find a work-ready candidate; consider setting up new social media accounts for work-related purposes. You can show your interest in a particular sector by sharing interesting sector-related content. If you haven’t already, join LinkedIn, as it seems to be becoming almost mandatory: 89% of students interested in accounting employers have used it for careers purposes. Your careers service can review your LinkedIn profile in the same way as they’d review your CV. Read:

Action: work out what is most important to you

In the survey, respondents were asked to rank how important different factors were when choosing between employers. Here are the ten that most respondents ranked as ‘very important’:

Wanted! An employer with...

Wanted! An employer with... statistics graphic

I plan to look for my first job:

I plan to look for my first job statistics graphic

  • The top three attributes are all focused on gaining the skills, knowledge and opportunities to learn and progress.
  • While 58% of respondents say a good work/life balance is very important, a high starting salary does not make the top ten list at all.
  • 42% would be willing to work anywhere across the UK.

Advice: Thinking about what you value in life and what you want out of the first couple of years in your career may seem like a sizeable task, but doing so will help you to identify the type of organisation at which you would be happy and help you to be more successful at applications. It is better to shortlist a few employers you actively want to apply to and make them the best possible, rather than apply to every organisation under the sun, badly.

Action: Consider what is important to you, by thinking about what you have learned about yourself during different times in your life (for example: what did you enjoy or not enjoy at any part-time jobs?). Use your conclusions to create a list of things to research about employers – whether you are looking online, meeting representatives at careers events or undertaking work experience. Read:

Did you know that members with full profiles are more likely to get direct messages from employers?

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