Armed with a degree and a suite of skills, you’re suddenly ousted from an environment of comfort and familiarity (namely, school) and thrust headfirst into a vast, alien world of networking, lunching with recruiters and applying for jobs. Fortune favors the prepared, and as daunting as job searching may seem, - it is a process you can master if you put in a bit of work. Here are the five must-haves you need when embarking on a mission to land your first job:
A professional headshot
Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn have become de rigueur in today’s hyper-connected corporate environment, and having an impressive headshot instead of a selfie will cement a good first impression in the minds of recruiters and potential employees.
For your first professional photoshoot, keep these handy tips in mind: use a simple background and dress in accordance with your industry’s requirements. Allow your personality to shine through, but don’t be overwhelmingly quirky or too out of the box.
If you find yourself lacking a solid CV, you need create one right away. For the uninitiated, a curriculum vitae is a complete, unabridged documentation of your professional and educational qualifications – achievements and activities undertaken during high school and university, skill sets picked up during internships and additional details such as awards, publications and society memberships.
While the terms “CV” and “résumé” are often used interchangeably, keep in mind that a résumé is a short version of your CV, and only contains crucial information and should be no longer than one page. A CV, in contrast, is fairly lengthy and can exceed three pages.
During the interview process, you’ll try to come as qualified and capable as possible, and if the company is interested in hiring you, they’ll likely contact your references to hear what they have to say about you. It makes a world of difference if a professor or supervisor has a good word to chip in. Having someone credible and well-established vouch for your skills and work ethic is not only empowering, but will also help convince potential employers that you are a worthwhile investment as an employee.
Top notch professional communication skills
It’s likely you’ll spend the first few months post-graduation crafting and sending out hundreds of applications, cover letters and follow-up emails. Unlike dropping a text message or posting an update to social media, there are certain rules of business communication you must observe, such as maintaining a formal tone, forgoing abbreviations and emojis, writing complete sentences and using proper punctuation.
Typos and inconsistent formatting (fonts of varying sizes and designs) are major turn-offs for HR professionals and managers. What’s more, sending out emails riddled with errors make you seem sloppy, uncaring and lazy, and is a sure-shot way to not getting hired. So take your time crafting emails and cover letters to be sure they’re pitch-perfect.
A winning attitude
There is no easy way to put it: you will face rejections. Companies, recruiters and employers may go completely silent on you despite your best efforts to extract a response only to contact you six months later only to inform you that the position you had given up on has been filled. The job-hunting process can be exhausting and emotionally draining, but you should never give up.
As a fresh graduate, you do have access to opportunities and resources other job seekers do not, so make full use of them. Chat with representatives at campus career fairs, attend university networking sessions, sign up for career clinics and seek professional (and life) advice from your lecturers. Go forth and do whatever you need to do in order to clinch that job you’ve been eyeing – you have nothing to lose and everything to win.