Well done on starting a course at the University of Salford! So far, so good! But, it’s also important to start thinking about what you will do after you graduate.
Sometimes it seems that graduate jobs are like those magical beasts J.K. Rowling writes about – mysterious, intimidating, and very hard to find. I know I was definitely terrified by the thought of leaving university and diving into the real world of “responsible adulting”.
Then, one day my lecturer said that the University is good at supporting students in embarking on their professional career. It clicked – you don’t have to struggle alone!
I was keen to find out more about how to land a career after graduation, so I spoke with Andrew Kay, Senior Careers Consultant at the University of Salford, to get some expert advice.
Hi Andrew, thanks for speaking to me. Firstly, what exactly is a graduate job?
Broadly defined, a graduate job is any job a graduate does. However, many graduate jobs require a degree in a certain subject as an essential entry requirement. Some graduates will apply for graduate schemes upon graduation, whereas other graduates will start work in entry-level positions and work their way up in a company.
So when is the best time to apply?
Many employers offer graduate recruitment schemes aimed at students in their final year of study. Most of the application closing dates are many months before graduation, so make sure you organise yourself as soon as possible. If you are looking at what would be termed as a traditional graduate scheme, you will find that several employers will start advertising early in the final year, in the autumn.
There may be some application deadlines before Christmas, and then you go through the recruitment process. If successful, you could have an offer before you complete your degree and theoretically start a new job at the beginning of the summer.
Part of job hunting is understanding the market. The more switched on you are, the more opportunities will be available. Make sure you are at least aware of who is recruiting and the deadlines you need to keep.
It is important to start looking early for opportunities, even in your first year, particularly if you are keen on doing an industrial placement during your degree.
What does it take to be a successful candidate?
The students who will do best in the recruitment process know themselves well. They have evidence to present for their skills, knowledge and experience, and can demonstrate they communicate effectively, work in teams and solve problems.
You need to be resilient because if you are applying for a graduate scheme, a lot of people are going to be applying for the same position. You have to be resilient enough to deal with rejection. It will happen.
What will make your CV really stand out?
Work experience is good. It is a plus if it is relevant to the industry you want to work in, if not – it is important to communicate the value of the work experience you have already gained. One thing that a lot of students do is devalue that experience, it is still experience, and it still teaches you something.
If there is one thing students need, it is the ability to communicate what they have to offer.
What would you do if you were in our shoes?
There are loads of different ways to look for a job. Use the Careers and Employability Service at the University of Salford. Use the graduate sites online but don’t fixate only on searching for jobs on the internet. Think about all the contacts that you have. Use a variety of strategies to look for work.
You can rely on the help of the Careers and Employability staff. They can provide you with some feedback on your CV. They can also look at applications before you submit them and talk you through how to improve. They can get you prepared for an interview and help you to practice for aptitude tests. Make use of us!
Thank you to Andrew for sharing what’s important in job hunting, and reassuring us that there’s nothing to worry about! Looking forward to digging up the opportunities!