5 Smart Ways to Nail a Job as a Fresh Graduate

Congratulations! As a graduate fresh out of college, the prospect of your first job can be thrilling. As embark on this new chapter of your life, being prepared and carrying a good attitude will help you immensely. 

Regardless of the job role you after, there are best practices you can follow when it comes to successfully applying for jobs. Now, there is no one sure way of going about the process but here are 5 steps you can take to better your chances in finding a job!  

1. Chart a career path

Before you even begin searching for jobs, it pays to invest time into mapping a career path that is aligned with your goals. Looking for a job that matches your salary expectations is just as important as one that has capacity for long-term growth. Building credibility into your resume sends the right message across to potential employers.

Apart from qualifications, your motivations, priorities and interests also factor heavily into determining your suitability for a role. Prioritising what is important for you in a job will be useful in allowing the company to understand your career goals. For instance, the need for work-life balance or a dynamic team culture could be equally as important as your compensation and benefits. A consistent narrative captures your dependability as an employee determined to stick to a path closely aligned with your goals.

Likewise, it is vital to acknowledge that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to your priorities. Determining factors that motivate you can help steer your job hunt in the right direction – towards a job you will find satisfying and fulfilling!

2. Personalise your resume

Your resume sets the trajectory for the hiring process so it pays to be diligent in crafting resumes that are tailored to match different jobs you want to apply for. A cookie-cutter resume will hardly get your application noticed when large corporations receive thousands of applications on the daily. Keeping your resume concise is your best bet as a fresh graduate. A good rule of thumb for entry-level positions would be to keep your length of your resume to a page.

On that note, the lack of work experience as a fresh graduate should not deter you from applying to jobs that you feel your skills are suited for. Leverage your accomplishments and internships at school and include volunteering stints or personal passions to position yourself as a holistic individual with good balance. Attaching a cover letter explaining your motivations as well as suitability for the role can also improve your chances for an interview. Once you have a solid first resume ready, making a few tweaks to match the jobs you are applying for can help signal to hiring managers that your experience is relevant to the job.

Fresh graduates have an additional caveat to watch out for when applying for jobs in this digital era: Passing through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Target areas like your professional summary, skills section and additional experience to emphasise on skills and valuable experience that helps you position yourself as a suitable candidate.

3. Tap on your network

The saying “It’s not about what you know, but who you know” might be truer than you think. As a graduate, you could begin to build your presence by tapping into networks available to you. One resource that is available to you would be the career centre in your college campus.

Workforce Singapore’s Career Connect also provides career matching services that aid in referrals and advice. Career counsellors are there to guide you with preparing for interviews, developing resumes and even chart out a career plan if you are unsure of your goals. You should also seize opportunities to network with industry professionals when career fairs are held. This will give you an advantage in understanding the different functions and industries out there – which gives you a good head start into job hunting.

Likewise, touching base with your past employers be it through internships, part-time jobs or volunteer work will help you develop rapport with them. In time, your network will be a good point for you to follow up on advice as well as opportunities available. Build up the momentum by keeping in touch with them through your LinkedIn and use the platform to build your online presence by highlighting skills and experience you have gained.

4. Prepare for the interview

After numerous applications sent out, getting a call for an interview feels like relief but resting on your laurels is not an option just yet. For fresh graduates, the first few interviews can be challenging but preparing for them can set you up for success. An interview is an opportunity so knowing the role you applied for and its responsibilities signals your interest in the job to the employer.

Likewise, do your research on the company as your potential employer will want to know why you are keen to join them. It also demonstrates a good effort on your part to learn about the company and their accomplishments to-date. You will never get a chance to make a good first impression so dressing the part reflects professionalism on your end. Dress codes may vary from industry to industry but in your first meeting with the employer, it is imperative that you look presentable and dressing professionally in business attire will be your safest bet.

As you approach the tail-end of the interview, it is likely that the employer will ask if you have any questions for them. The interview is just as much a chance for you to figure out if you are suitable for the role as it is for potential employers to get to know you. The best approach would be to prepare a couple of questions that are less commonly covered during the actual interview that helps you to build rapport with the employer and find out if the job is the right fit for you.

5. Send a follow-up note

After your interview, it is a good idea to follow-up with an email to thank the employer and reinstate your interest in the role. Send an email that is individualised and based off your interaction with the hiring manager during the interview. Showing some personality in your follow-up will help your likeability which improves your chances of being in the running for the position. Job hunting right out of college is not a race as everyone progresses at their own pace.

To secure the job that you are motivated by and actually enjoy, focus on preparing well and having an open mind. Trust the process and give it time!

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