Your job search shouldn’t be about mindlessly applying for jobs and hoping to get called for an interview anymore. The reason for this being that it has become increasingly difficult in today’s competitive, network-driven job market to simply put in an application, get an interview, and land a job.
According to Forbes, referrals are the leading source of superior candidates for 88% of employers. That research also found that those candidates are a better culture fit which means that they have a higher retention rate which means the business has to invest fewer resources (time & money) into their training.
This might seem quite insular and unfair but it is the reality of the situation. Therefore, it’s imperative that you adapt your job search strategy. Nowadays, the most successful job seekers utilize a variety of strategies that allow them to stand out from the crowd.
1. Express an interest 💬
This might seem like an extremely basic tip but you’d be amazed at the number of graduates we talk to that haven’t gone to the trouble of connecting with people at companies they want to work for.
You can demonstrate interest by simply seeking out recruiters on LinkedIn, signing up for company newsletters, following their blog or the company’s social media accounts, or even attending webinars and events that the company has coming up.
2. Tell your story 📖
It is essential to utilise your cover letter as a tool to get your personality across. Instead of just focusing on going through past experiences and skills, which is what your CV is for, your cover letter should try to integrate those points into a larger narrative about yourself.
A good cover letter reads more like a story than simply just a rehashed version of your CV. Try and take the time to look at the recruiter’s LinkedIn profile and see if you share anything in common with them.
This could be something as simple as checking to see if you went to the same college as them or worked in the same company at a different time. If you find something that’s useful and reference it, you can ensure that you stand out from applicants with a similar level of experience.
You can also attract potential employers to you by maintaining a strong LinkedIn profile and presence. This can be achieved by doing something as simple as engaging with your connections by liking and commenting on their posts or if you have the time, writing a post yourself about a topic that you’re interested in.
3. Quality Over Quantity 📍
We’ve heard countless anecdotes from grads that we talk to of them sending out hundreds of online applications over the space of a few weeks. As a new grad, time is money. Try and value it by targeting a few key companies that you want to work for.
If you spend that extra time you might otherwise use to send off another generic cover letter to instead fine-tune a tailored CV for a company on your target list, this will help you produce higher-quality applications that clearly demonstrate why you want to work for that particular company and what makes you a great fit.
Look at how you can integrate keywords from the job description into your application and communicate how your experience to date compliments the mission and goals of your target company.
Hiring managers know the difference between someone who is spraying and praying applications out with the same tired CV and cover letter — and someone who isn’t.
4. Research, research, research 🔎
Researching is a skill that should still be relatively sharp if you’ve had any kind of success in college. Thankfully, it’s not gone to waste. In fact, the value of it actually increases as you transition to the working world.
Hiring managers want to see that you’ve been proactively researching the company. Look at the company’s mission, read the latest news updates, and come prepared to know what you want to accomplish in the role and how you’re uniquely qualified to do it.
It’s also crucial to decide whether or not the company is a fit for you. There are countless resources to help you in this pursuit. Take a deep dive Glassdoor which provides you with information from both current and previous employees that gives a behind-the-scenes look at companies.
Although the inevitable shift to remote working has been accelerated by the COVID-19 epidemic, there are also going to be a number of practical issues you should research before applying.
Your environment has a significant impact on your productivity, so get familiar with the one you may potentially be moving into. What do the people who work there say about it? Where is the office? And most importantly, do they have free food?
For recent graduates, job searching can be scary and seem like unchartered territory. The job market is crowded and at times, it’s difficult to feel like you’re standing out from the crowd.
An unfortunate consequence that COVID-19 has had on the application process is that it has become more impersonal with interviews being carried out remotely.
That means that it’s crucial, now more than ever, to try and find simple and actionable strategies whereby you’re setting yourself up with the best chance of being successful.
Let us know what you think of our tips and if you have any ones that you’d like to add, we’d love to hear from you!
Ian from Gradguide
Gradguide is a career guidance and mentorship program designed to help college students and recent graduates land their first job in tech. We pair you with a mentor to help improve your CV & LinkedIn, upskill, find the right roles to apply for, prepare for interviews, and seek referrals to the best companies around.