So, you have just graduated or about to graduate. Your insides are battling with each other when you think about your future and you are unsure what to do next. No worries take a deep, deep, breath and start making your way up the career ladder. If you think anyone is going to notice you because of your awesome degree, or your brilliant exam results, I am sorry to burst your bubble, not gonna happen. Well, maybe it will, who am I to say that it won’t.
But most probably you will need to be preparing and making the necessary efforts to make yourself noticed. Remember that your aim is not to get a job yet, but to land an interview and show your talents and skills. The interview is where you get to impress and start your new career. So get ready for a few weeks of action packed self-reflecting time.
Here are a few things to get you started. This is the bare minimum, remember that you are marketing yourself and advertising as any product or service you see out there.
- CV: Your CV or Resume is the first thing you should start working on. It’s essential that firstly you stand out from the rest and secondly you put just the right amount of info in it. Imagine from the perspective of the HR person going through CV after CV. Day-in-Day-out. So you want to avoid having a 4 page CV detailing every little bit of job you have done, or every single skill you poses. Keep it simple and short, maybe 1 to 2 pages max. There are much more detailed ways potential employers can know about you such as your LinkedIn profile, personal website, or blog. First, get them interested with an awesome CV. I personally say you have nothing to lose with standing out. So make your CV as unique as possible (reflecting on your field) and make sure you highlight key aspects. Here are a few awesome looking CV’s I came across searching online and which you can take inspiration from.
- Cover letter: Once your CV attracts the potential employer by standing out and raising an eyebrow, your cover letter should complement it. When writing a cover letter, write a generic one for each position you apply for (sales, marketing, web developer, back-end developer). While they can be quite similar, you need to first tailor make them to the job and industry. Then you tailor make it to the specific position and company you are applying to. This will require some form of research into the position, the company, and how your profile matches them. Having a tailor made cover letter for each position shows that you actually cared enough to reach the advert, research the company, and show how you can add value to the company. Don’t start the generic BS like dear sir or madam blab la bla but rather be creative and show you are different and stand out. I am not going to tell you how to do it, but adding a tiny amount of humor, some form of value proposition, using attractive looking fonts, or anything in those lines are a good start. Once you are done with the cover letter, read it over and over and over and over again. Try to avoid silly mistakes and typos and at all costs try to avoid writing the wrong company name or job you applied to. Try to make the who letter 3 to 4 paragraphs and less than one page and ensure that it is pleasant to read and the text has a flow from the beginning to the end.
LinkedIn Profile: LinkedIn claims to be the world largest professional network and it certainly feels like it. Aside from the odd cat meme, most material shared by network will be professional and your aim is to connect to people in your field and your area and start growing your network. Having an all star profile means you will reach more potential employers and more people will see your talent. So get on building your LinkedIn all the to achieve the all star status.
- Profile photo: professional looking photo, clean, probably a nice smile
- Background Photo: something related to your field to show your interest and motivation
- Headline: a catchy sentence or two that captivates the reader for instance “looking for awesome sales positions in the robotic industry”
- Location: where you reside, it’s not about people stalking you but rather letting employers know where you are
- Summary: a nice summary of your personality, work history, your strong points, or something you excel at. Don’t go too much in detail in everything, but rather try to explain yourself as you would to a speed date but for work
- Links: You blog, portfolio link, doctoral dissertation, master thesis or anything that can show your work needs to be shared. Make sure you have relevant links, no employer is interested in seeing your social media shares or funny cat videos.
- Work Experience: Places you have worked, your job title, your tasks, achievements, and the roles you took in addition to the dates are the basics. Try to explain a bit of detail without going too overboard. For example saying “worked as sales” is too short. But stating that you “worked as a sales officer for theoretical insurance company with tasks such as tele-sales, promotional event sales, and managing customer relations” is a much better version of the above. Always be ready to provide references, and I don’t think it should be mentioned that some employers might actually contact the company for further info, so being truthful is really important.
- Education: pretty self explanatory here, make sure you note down the major you studied and if you have some papers published or work available online showcase them here. Don’t go too far back in time. Up to your bachelor should be good enough. No need to go back all the way to your kindergarten you attended.
- Skills: Make sure to note down all the skills in the skills section. Add as many skills (related and true) and try to reach the 50 skill limit. Then select 3 of them as your top skills. Don’t lie here and make sure you can actually perform the skills you mentioned or you risk big embarrassing moments later on.
- Recommendations: This is quite important and sometimes ignored. Ask for recommendation from people you have worked with. If you don’t have any professional work experience, then ask your professors, team mates, or project partners that you were apart of. This is really important and can show potential employers what others say about you and your professional work.
- Accomplishments: languages you speak, projects you are proud of, and honors you and awards. Don’t skip on these and be ready to provide references if needed.
- Portfolio: Depending on the work you do and your career goals you might want to consider a portfolio. Your portfolio is a set of work samples showcasing your capabilities and talents. If your work is design or any form of creative work such as photography or video work then you definitely need to showcase them somewhere. Behance or other platforms are design focused platforms are great to show your work and link your page to your CV and share your material on social media as well. But Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are what I like to call the “Holy Trinity” of social media and you should anyways be active in them and have your work showcased there.
- Online presence: Having online presence increase the odds of being recognized by potential employers. Especially if you have some form of hobby site/social media that you have put some time into.
- Website: your website that showcases your skills/talents and services you can offer. Nobody knows your worth unless you convey the message, so make sure you note that down. It can be presenting material in a unique way, or consulting to get better sales, or having an extreme eye for detail.
- Blog: an extension of your website or an alternative to it, it can be the place where you share your ideas, thoughts, words, visuals, or experiences to share with the rest of the world. Your world, your choice. Show the world who you are.
- Things to remember: Remember that the world needs to hear you, see you, and get to know you. If you wan’t to increase the odds of getting hired, put yourself out there. Don’t forget to be honest and never lie on your resume, it can never be a good thing. Oh, the most important thing to remember is job hunting is a full time job requiring your complete devotion and dedication.
If you put in the effort, you will hopefully start to hear the phone ring, the email notifications, or your messenger blinking. If not, have a friend, a professional, or even one of those companies who rejected you for feedback and work on overcoming your shortcomings.
Good Luck with the job hunt and let me know if this helped you in any way.