So, you’ve just graduated and now adult life awaits you. The dreaded “full time work”, the whispers of mortgage and debt appearing at the back of your mind. The lengthy application processes. CV insecurities and so much more. All for you to tackle. I’m here to hopefully construct a post that will ease your worries, let you know that its all going to be ok, and what proactive steps to take in order to keep your head above water. I will try to be broad and give advice that fits many industries and not just one.
I came across the term Post Uni Depression recently and spent some time to ponder on it, is there truth to it? Personally, I believe that after Uni our patience is certainly tested, it’s about what we can do with the time given to us, and how much we’re willing to endure for our future. No matter the industry. Some tolerances may differ but I believe its certainly a time where we are collectively anxious and worried.
The Perfect CV
The perfect CV doesn’t exist but its advantageous to have a CV that stands out from the crowd. One which can get you seen first and remembered. Designing a CV can also be a daunting task, if you have no idea on design principles or don’t know any designers a good route to take is Fiverr.com for CV design which can range from £5 to £30, I believe this is super worth it and the turn around times are quite quick. They should also provide you with the source files so you can add in your own edits whenever you need to.
You can also use Pages on the Mac to browse some free to use templates, most of the templates on there are designed quite well and allow you to customise them to your liking.
Contrary to popular belief, the CV should be one page long. Many online articles preach that the CV should be two pages long, its up to preference but one page thats to the point and easy to read is far more attractive than something that contains long paragraphs and is double sided. Of course if your work history is long then you’d need more than one side. Be sure to keep the sentences about yourself short and snappy.
The Application Process
I remember when I first started applying for graduate roles, they were long and dispiriting and I wanted each one to be tailored for the kind of job I was applying for, which made things 2x lengthy. I’d get around three applications done within a week and then later transitioned to three a day. I got much quicker at them by using the auto-fill function and made sure to keep copies of the content I’d filled in for each form. For example: If a form was titled Tell Us More About Yourself I’d copy whatever I had written in there to use for future applications.
Another thing I did was to make sure I had alerts set on Indeed.com, so that each time a job in my field would arrive I could be first to it. It’s always a good idea to submit nice and early. Employers love this, because if there’s a chance they can find the right employee early they can save time (and money). So be early.
After applying to about thirty applications only five got back to me for a phone interview, out of them five, two had asked for me to come visit for an interview. And out of them two, none had deemed me worthy to be the right candidate. Rejection sucks. I remember getting super discouraged and not wanting to apply to any more (ever). It was time consuming and would take a lot of energy once rejections came through. After around two weeks of despair I got back onto the horse again and took some advice from a mentor of mine. He advised me to draw fifty boxes and to fill in each box once I had been offered a phone interview / first stage interview. This helped visualise things and made me focus on the bigger picture at hand. It reminded me that I had not really applied to that many.
The Interview Process
I had been offered my first interview and was super nervous, I had passed the phone interview, now it was my turn to show them what I was capable of. The truth is they already know what I can do, my portfolio displayed that. They just wanted to see how I was as a person and if I could fit into their way of working.
Think of a face-to-face interview like a personality test, they’re seeing if you’d be a good fit in their environment, if you can mould with the co-workers. If you manage to earn a face-to-face interview make sure that you are 100% yourself, the worst thing that can happen is that you appear to know certain principles but once you’re hired you need to perform a catch up. Know that your honesty will be valued. Remember to arrive early but not too early, fifteen minutes before is the sweet spot, and if/when they offer a beverage choose your favourite, it’ll make you feel relaxed and comfortable if you’re drinking something you love.
After each interview be sure to audit each one and know where you went wrong and how to improve, this is vital. If done correctly, after each interview you’ll notice a difference in your confidence and speech. Allowing you to articulate the true you which results in a higher chance of you getting employed. Don’t expect to do perfect on the first one, the majority of us will be anxious, and nervous, it’s completely normal. But to be proactive about it is the perfect way to go. I vividly remember my hands shaking on my first interview but by my third I was cool, calm and collected (I think). I had managed to have four interviews before striking gold.
Talking about myself was something I was never keen on. I’d go as far to say I’d hate doing it. Who wants to hear about me? But it turns out employers definitely do, and once you get comfortable talking about yourself the more natural it will seem. If you can, let the work do all the talking but don’t overdo it. Compliment the company but if you feel like they can do something better, let them know. This shows that you’re confident in your ideals and that you’re not afraid to speak up if it benefits the company.
Everything I had learned in previous interviews had finally payed off, I remember going into this interview without any expectations, my mindset was: let me just do it for the experience, if I get it, I get it. It was one of the most laidback interviews I’ve ever taken. I remember making sure to get across how much value I could add to their company. To my delight I received a phone call two days later, letting me know that I had been successful. I did it, I finally got my first grad role. Through persistence and patience it had arrived. An opportunity to pay off my student debt. :/