A 10-Step Plan for Graduate Job Seekers

Written By: Deidre Donnelly

You’ve got your qualification – now what? Job hunting can be daunting. Use this checklist to get started…

The beginning of the year is a popular time for people to seek out a new job. This is also when those who’ve graduated try enter the workforce.

It can be a stressful time for a new graduate: You’ve ended your tertiary education on a high, but now you have to earn your keep and get your foot in the door to start your brilliant career. And in South Africa, where unemployment is high, competition can be fierce. If you’re finding just the thought of looking for a job overwhelming, here are 10 things you can do to get the process going…

1 PREP YOUR CV: Your Curriculum Vitae is your first point of entry into the job market, so it should be your first priority. Make sure it’s professional, clear, formatted simply, and free from grammatical errors or typos. Include important details, like your contact details, the scores you got for your main subjects, any projects you worked on, or part-time work experience. Some recruiters use software to scan CVs for relevant keywords, so make sure your CV features keywords suited to the job you want. One size doesn’t fit all: You may need to tailor your CV according to the specific role you’re applying for.

2 TIDY UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA: Your online presence is your online brand. Recruiters and potential employers may well look you up online, so ensure your social media accounts don’t reflect anything incriminating or offensive.

3 DEVELOP AN ONLINE PRESCENCE: LinkedIn is a great professional networking platform, so set up a profile. Your LinkedIn profile is a digital representation of your career life, so have a professional headshot, make sure your profile reflects the image you want to convey and that it’s consist with your CV.

4 BUILD THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS: Reach out to specialist recruiters in your industry and build relationships with them. Recommendations are the best way to land a job, so contact alumni from your tertiary institution who could point you towards job leads, or arrange a coffee meeting with a potential mentor in your field.

5 STAY CONNECTED: Sign up to virtual job boards, set up LinkedIn alerts for jobs in your field, subscribe to sites that publish news on your industry to keep up to date, and follow relevant pages and people on social media. For instance, jobadvicesa.co.za host tweet chats every Monday (using the hashtag #JobAdviceSA), where they try connect recruiters, employers and job seekers. There are also Apps to help in your search.

6 DO YOUR RESEARCH: Bigger companies often offer graduate recruitment programmes, so research companies you’d like to work for and reach out to them directly. Make sure you approach the relevant person, and follow up afterwards.

7 GET EXPERIENCE: Graduates often find themselves in this common Catch 22: You need a job for experience, but you need experience for the job. For this reason, you should try secure an internship or even volunteer your time to get some industry related experience.

8 STAND OUT: If you don’t already have a network, you can create your own. Join industry-related group discussions (there are many of these on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), attend MeetUp groups and other talks. You could also start your own blog to share interesting finds in your industry, and eventually establish yourself as a ‘thought leader’ in your chosen field.

9 BE TARGETED: If you apply the splatter-gun approach, and apply for as many jobs online as possible, you could spread yourself too thin. With online applications, only 3% of applicants get called for an interview – and counting how few responses you’ve had to applications can be demoralising. Don’t waste your time. Only apply for jobs that you really can see yourself doing and enjoying.

10 STAY POSITIVE: Remember, finding a job doesn’t happen overnight − it’s a process. It’s easy to feel like you’re being rejected or ignored, but try to stay focused and motivated. Your dream job is out there. If you approach finding it in the right way, you’re likely to land it.

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