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Woman Graduating

It’s tough out there, for sure. But with a little prep (and these tips from a pro), you can slip into a great career, no sweat.

We get it: new graduates find themselves in a pretty unique position. You entered higher education with certain expectations around what your student years and career path would look like. Then there was the pandemic and you found yourself having to adapt to a whole new paradigm of online learning. Now you’re facing a very different marketplace from the one you originally envisioned, right?

So what’s your next step? How do you get a foot in the door, or even near the door? Dr Rufaro Mavunga, Head of Programme: Law Faculty at The Independent Institute of Education, has the tips you need to make the transition into the world of work… seamless.

READ MORE: Must-Know Job Interview Preparation Hacks To Nail That Job

1/ Be creative and intentional

“Applicants must now – more than ever before – be creative and intentional in their job search,” says Dr Mavunga. “If you’re a recent graduate who has never worked a day in your life, writing a CV and cover letter may seem like a daunting task. There is, however, so much information available on so many platforms, such as recruitment websites, that provide tips on how to write a winning CV,” she says.

2/ Read job descriptions carefully

We know, we know, it’s tempting to skim through the job description, but it’s crucial to read it carefully. Why? Because you’re using the description to identify the required skills and experience so you can make sure your CV and application align with these. “Highlight your skills and competencies tailored to what the job requires. It may be necessary to tweak your CV for each job application. It’s helpful to list the requirements and refer back to this list as you write your CV,” says Dr Mavunga.

And while your skills and expertise must align with the job descriptors, attention to how your CV looks is also important. Oh hi Canva.

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3/ Simple CV formats are key

Dr Mavunga advises that applicants use a simple format because complicated page layouts can be hard for applicant tracking systems to handle. And while it might seem obvious, we’ll say it again: spellcheck! “Put your best foot forward by avoiding typos and grammatical errors that detract from the overall presentation,” says Dr Mavunga. “And priority should be given to quality over quantity [so you] stand out from other applicants.”

4/ Don’t be shy to reach out

We’re talking speculative applications here. Basically, you’re creating your own opportunity by reaching out speculatively to organisations, even when they aren’t advertising, explains Dr Mavunga. Start the process like this: make a list of companies that interest you, research their public relations material, then reach out. “Many large corporates have links on their websites for graduate employment, but don’t necessarily advertise these on the popular job-seeking sites,” she says. Tip: Think outside the box here. Be creative to ensure your application stands out from the rest.

READ MORE: How To Secure That Job – Top Advice From A Talent Manager

5/ Build your social networks

“Social networking can have a social purpose, or a professional purpose, or both, through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Creating a strong, professional presence on social media may link you with information and opportunities that can assist in the job search process,” says Dr Mavunga.

Social networks are also important because they allow you to connect with people you may not normally encounter. Just always remember that employers often look at a candidate’s social media platforms to measure whether a particular candidate would be a good fit for their company – so post accordingly.

6/ Be open to all opportunities

“Many job seekers have a vision of what they think their first job should look like,” says Dr Mavunga. “In the current climate, not all graduates will be lucky enough to have that vision realised, at least maybe not immediately, and it might be necessary to shift expectations. For instance, while you might have had your heart set on a full-time job with full benefits, it might be time to consider a six-month internship or fellowship, or possibly seek out and take on contracting jobs. The key is to be flexible, realistic and knowledgeable about career options.”

You’ll up your odds of getting employed by developing patience and persistence. Job search fatigue is a reality, but remaining positive and putting in the necessary effort will pay off in the long run. Promise.

Photo by Joshua Mcknight.

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