Employability is a set of achievements – skills, understandings and personal attributes – that make graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.

Recently, the graduate jobs market has become increasingly competitive, and final year students need to focus upon making themselves employable and setting themselves apart from other candidates. But how can you go about it?

Whether you are in an unskilled job or are looking to land your first graduate role, follow these top tips:

1- Write Your CV Like A Story

Forget a boring, templated CV if you want to land a top position upon graduating. Make the lives of recruiters easy and answer their questions before they have chance to ask them. Tell recruiters your story, letting your CV answer questions which focus upon:

  • Why should they employ you?
  • What’s your experience?
  • What makes you stand out?

Top Tip: Tailor your CV to each job you apply for, ensuring you stand out for that particular role.

Always Avoid: Never be tempted to rush an application. If a job is not worth working hard for to land an interview, you probably do not want it badly enough.

2- Google Yourself

Take ten minutes to run a Google search on your name. What comes up? You probably do not want a prospective employer seeing embarrassing photos of you from that party last weekend on Facebook! Spend time perfecting your online presence. Tailor your online presence to your industry and make sure what a searcher can see makes you stand out; it is an opportunity to impress. Recruiters love to see:

  • Social media channels which reflect your interest in a subject.
  • LinkedIn recommendations.
  • Published articles, blogs, and portfolios.

Top Tip: Ensure your online presence portrays you as an individual with a keen interest and understanding your field.

Always Avoid: Keep embarrassing photos from nights-out off social media. Even go so far as to delete the old ones.

3- Get Social

Social media is far more important than many people think. Whilst it is important to fine tune your online presence, social media in itself can help you to land interviews and showcase opportunities. A few ways to get social are:

  • Using LinkedIn to connect with employers and recruiters as well as to showcase your expertise.
  • Using LinkedIn Pulse to publish your own works and to share your knowledge.
  • Using Twitter to engage with a company ahead of applying for a role to make sure they recognize your name.

Top Tip: Use social media to make connections and to be seen as active within your industry.

Always Avoid: ever use social media anonymously and/or impersonate someone else’s online presence. Use your own personal photo, and make sure it is updated and looks professional.

4- Network, Network, Network

Just like entrepreneurs must network to win work and generate leads, you must do the same to land your dream job. Using both online and face-to-face networking approaches, get to know as many influencers within your industry as possible, both locally and internationally. Never forget the saying ‘It is not what you know, but who you know.’ Ways you can build relationships include:

  • Social media networking.
  • Attending careers fairs.
  • Undertaking work placements.
  • Volunteering.

Top Tip: Engage with key personnel of a company on Twitter and LinkedIn as well as company pages on Facebook to keep up to date with news.

Always Avoid: Never add a prospective employer or potential future colleagues as friends on Facebook. Always respect privacy

5- Learn The Art Of Selling Yourself

A great salesperson can sell anything and you must be able to sell yourself if you want to impress. Learn the art of selling yourself and work on marketing yourself like you would a business. This includes learning how to:

  • Make yourself attractive to employers.
  • Portray yourself as the best candidates.
  • Negotiate.

Top Tip: Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter and ask yourself whether you stand out from a crowd of CV’s and applicants. If no, work out why not.

Always Avoid: Never lie on a CV or application. Not even ‘little white lies’. You will be found out and it will not do you any favours.

6- Boost Your Confidence

There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, but coming across as confidence can do a great deal for you. A confident individual is far more attractive candidate than a shy one. So, spend time concentrating on:

  • Being positive.
  • Being prepared.
  • Learning from mistakes.

Top Tip: Know your ‘story’ off by heart, allowing you to comfortably speak in front of an interview panel without feeling nervous.

Always Avoid: Never come across as over-confident as it is often seen as a mask for someone who is hiding something.

7- Gain Industry Experience

Regardless of whether it is paid or unpaid, an internship or a summer job; do all you can to gain industry experience. Employers want to see more than just qualifications, and are more likely to interview a candidate with experience of any sort. Any experience is better than no experience in any industry, and it will set you apart from those with none. A few ways to gain experience are:

  • Work experience, such as part-time jobs.
  • Internships, paid or unpaid.
  • Summer jobs.
  • Volunteering.

Top Tip: Never reject volunteering or work experience opportunities. Whilst unpaid, the experience is worth its weight in gold.

Always Avoid: Do not go into a placement with an attitude of ‘I am better than this’ if asked to make tea and the like. If you did not need to be there you would not be.

8- Research Companies Before Applying

Spending time ‘getting to know’ companies before applying, putting yourself in a position to outline things such as the history of the company, it recent achievements and key clients. Following on social media and reading back through a company blog will give you an insight into their culture, not just what their service or product offerings are.

Top Tip: Subscribe to a company newsletter if they have one as this will allow you to chat over its contents in an interview and shows that you are keen.

Always Avoid: Never assume you can research a company on your way to an interview. Spend hours doing your research before you apply to ensure you are a culture fit as well.

9- Never Stop Learning

Even if you have just finished your degree, you should never stop learning. Knowledge is powerful and the more you know the more employable you are. Always aim to learn something new every day, however small or large that think may be. Just few ways to continue learning are:

  • Reading blogs and articles.
  • Attending conferences.
  • Watching webinars.

Top Tip: Download the ‘Pocket’ app to save online content (including videos) to be read or watched at more convenient time, offline if needs be.

Always Avoid: Never assume you know enough. Even those at the top of their game take time to continue their learning and understand that no one knows everything.

10- Believe In Yourself

There is a lot to be said for someone who believes in themselves and you would be surprised how much this can impact your ability to sell yourself. At the end of the day, if you do not believe in yourself, that you can land your dream job, why should anyone else? This, in many ways, comes alongside self-confidence.

Top Tip: Justify to yourself in your head why you should be selected for a role and you will find it far easier to convince recruiters.

Always Avoid: Never doubt yourself and your ability to succeed in your chosen career. Negativity is never good and those who focus upon positives will go further than those who do not.

11- Be Flexible

Whilst this is easier for some than others, always be flexible. An application for one role may see you offered an interview for another or perhaps on a slightly lower than anticipated salary. Being flexible sets you apart from those who are not. Common things you should be flexible on include:

  • Specific job role.
  • Salary.
  • Working hours.

Top Tip: Always remember how important ‘getting a foot in the door’ with a company is, and that many recruit for senior roles from within.

Always Avoid: Never go into an interview or apply for a role with a fixed mindset as things do not always go just as you expected them to.

Images: Giphy

Ali AlSabbagh

Marketing Consultant, Media & PR Strategist, ex-Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Youth Activist, Bookworm, Tech Savvy, World Traveler. Awarded the "Best Entrepreneurial" award in Social Media Awards 2012 by the Bahrain Information Affairs Authority. Magna Cum Laude UK graduate with a BA in Multimedia Computing and MSc in Economics, Finance and Management.

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