Venturing into the world of work after university can be an intimidating experience. But fear not! Some of SAS' finest graduate recruiters have teamed up to give you some tips on how to fine tune your job applications, shine at open days, and kick-start your career.
How to build your professional online brand
Advice from Nick Butlin, Senior Associate Talent Acquisition Specialist
With social media playing a significant part in our personal lives it’s no surprise that it’s becoming increasingly important in the professional world as well. With more than 120 million users, LinkedIn is playing the lead role. The social networking platform is a great way to increase your online presence and build your professional online brand.
One of the most important things to get right is to create a strong profile. Remember, unlike a traditional CV, it’s always online. This is great news, as potential employers are always on the lookout for new candidates. As a recruiter who uses LinkedIn on a daily basis to find new candidates my advice is:
- Be yourself – recruiters are looking for real and honest people. Tell us what makes you unique.
- Create a punchy profile headline – this is the first thing people see. Make it short, memorable and even fun!
- Keep it up to date – make sure it is up to date with your activities, achievements, grades, involvements in societies, passions, interests and career goals.
Alongside building your professional profile, LinkedIn is great for building your professional network. Not only are you able to connect with colleagues, friends and family, you can connect with the connections of people you know. Consider connecting with people you have met at Careers Fairs, Networking Events or Insight Days. Networking online is a nice way to complement your in-person efforts.
- Be personal – keep your messages personal when connecting with others.
- Get involved – post blogs, share in groups and comment on posts. Every interaction you make is a great way to market yourself and to learn industry insights.
- Give generously – helping others is a crucial way to build your own personal brand. Give advice, share job leads, provide endorsements, and congratulate people on their successes.
Not only does LinkedIn offer the potential for jobs to find you, it also gives you the opportunity to find relevant vacancies. With well over a million-and-a-half student jobs and internships you should:
- Keep an eye on recommendations – based on the information you have provided in your profile, LinkedIn will recommend jobs that match your skills and interests.
- Use the Student Job portal – it only includes entry level positions, which is a great place to start and then work your way up through. Follow companies – get news updates from companies you’re interested in. These may not only be jobs but valuable information that could help you prepare for an interview.
LinkedIn is a useful tool for graduate job hunters so creating your own dynamic online presence could be what sets you apart from the others.
How to make the most of graduate careers fairs
Advice from Chris Dawson, Associate Talent Acquisition Specialist
Graduate careers fairs are a great way to meet recruiters, find out more about employers and industries, and hunt for jobs. This is an excellent way to learn more about graduate opportunities and get further information about careers and application processes. However, these fairs can be overwhelming too. To get maximum benefits from these brief windows of opportunity (and a good stash of freebies) you need a strategy.
Before you get to a career fair
Some recruitment fairs run over two days, other for just a day, but many last just an afternoon. Time is limited and recruiters will be approached by many people. Be sure to create a complete profile, check the times and which employers and organisations will be attending.
- Think about why you want to attend and what you want to get from the event.
- Decide which employers you want to visit beforehand.
- Find out if there’s a programme of talks and presentations. Decide beforehand which talks, if any, you’d like to attend.
- Update your CV.
Research employers before you go
Recruiters will be busy and your time with them may be short. Prior research means you can have a better understanding of the industry/company and you will also make a good impression.
- Visit employers’ websites to find out what they do (products made/services offered) and to find out more about graduate roles, skills and qualifications required and the recruitment process.
- Prepare questions to ask recruiters and representatives. These can be about the recruitment process, what skills and qualities are needed, trends in the profession, etc.
When you approach recruiters at fairs:
- Be purposeful, confident and enthusiastic, but also polite and courteous.
- Be ready with specific questions to ask and responses to questions surrounding your studies/commercial experiences.
- Don’t hunt in a pack. If you go with friends, split up to make better use of your time. Even more importantly, this will show recruiters that you are a capable, independent individual.
Make notes for future reference
Write down the names and contact details of people you meet and record any useful information you glean. Once you leave an employer’s stand, move to one side and take a moment to record your impressions:
- What makes the organisation different?
- Would you be happy working with these people?
- What did you find out that made you feel you would fit in? How would you be able to use your skills within the organisation?
- You may find that you refer to contacts you made and information you found out at careers fairs in applications and interviews.
Writing a Top CV
Advice from Tom Miller, Associate Account Executive
Think back to 2006. Everybody had a flip phone, nobody had heard of Facebook and Sean Paul was top of the charts. The world has changed a lot since then. But when applying for a job, despite the arrival of LinkedIn, video interviewing and personality tests, there’s still no substitute for a good old fashioned CV. This is often the first, maybe only, impression an employer will have of you, so you need to make it count!
First tip: There is no single perfect CV! This may sound about as useful as a chocolate teapot, but don’t give up on us yet! Whether your CV is any good or not depends entirely on the job you are applying for. Read the job description carefully, make a list of the skills mentioned, and tailor your CV accordingly.
Short and simple: Recruiters and managers alike are typically faced with dozens of applications for any given position. They will, therefore, greatly appreciate it if your CV is quick and easy to read! A CV should be a maximum of two pages long, preferably a page. A recruiter should not have to look hard for your skills. Make them obvious! A clear, simple format is better, with bullet points rather than long paragraphs. If you want to elaborate on your experience, you will be able to do this in the job interview. Think of your CV as an introduction, rather than a full biography. Another tip is to include all the key information in the top-half of the first page, so recruiters see everything without having to scroll down. (Many CVs don’t get looked at for more than a few seconds!)
Grammar and spelling: Think this makes no differens? Exactly.
Be creative! Nobody expects graduates to have masses of professional experience. Any company worth its salt will invest in its graduates and provide training. If you have not completed months of internships, don’t worry! Write about other things – travel, societies you joined at university, sports teams, or volunteering. If you can show that you have developed soft skills, put it in. All of this is material which can be discussed during a job interview. If you spent six months studying abroad, you can talk about how you battled with foreign bureaucracy and survived in a completely alien environment. If you volunteered in a school, describe how teaching improved your presentation skills. All of this can come in handy and help you land that dream job!