Nail that job application and interview: Six top tips for graduates
We have a lot of experience of recruiting graduates, writes Richard Bryan. Here are some of the key things we know employers are looking for.
University is over – and armed with your degree you are hoping to make that first step onto the career ladder.
It’s a very exciting time. There are countless opportunities out there – but also lots of tough competition from other new graduates.
So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
At Qa Research we’ve had 20 years’ experience of recruiting university leavers.
In that time we’ve regularly come across job hunters whose application or interview has been let down by a lack of preparation.
So we thought it might be helpful to share the best ways to impress a potential employer.
Tip 1: Make your covering letter shine
First impressions count. And your first contact with a company is often the covering letter that goes with your job application.
Letters with spelling mistakes or glaring grammatical errors are likely to end up on the reject pile. So too are those which are clumsily constructed and ramble on.
By contrast, a well-written, error-free letter will ensure you clear that first hurdle.
Tip 2: Do your research
Before writing your covering letter, spend an hour reading the company’s website. It will be time well spent.
Employers want to know that you are engaged with the work they are doing. Demonstrate that with references to specific company projects or fields of expertise in your introductory letter.
That will see your application leapfrog those by graduates who have sent in a generic letter, which could have gone to almost any employer.
Tip 3: Keep your CV short and to the point
Your potential employers will be busy people. So don’t burden them with the first draft of your unedited life story.
Far better to keep your CV concise, including only the information pertinent to the job on offer.
Tip 4: Preparation is everything
You’ve followed the above advice and produced a letter and CV sharp enough to secure you a job interview.
Now’s the time to put the real work in.
Here are three questions that you should anticipate in any interview:
- What do you know about this company?
- Why do you want the job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
You need answers that stand out by way of their clarity, originality and knowledge. Invest a few hours in honing them.
Tip 5: Create a compelling presentation
Many companies will ask you to undertake a short presentation on a relevant topic at the interview stage.
Here is your chance to shine. Follow a few key pointers to score top marks.
Tip 6: Ask the right questions
Candidates will almost always be asked if they have any questions at the end of the interview.
This is your last test. Be ready. That way you can avert the danger of saying nothing.
Follow these tips to give yourself the best chance of impressing prospective employers and really get going with your career. Good luck!
Richard Bryan is Managing Director at Qa Research: email@example.com