Hints for graduates

Written by: Mike Ashton
Published on: 12 May 2014

It‘s tough for graduates entering the jobs market. There’s more competition than ever and employers are setting the bar high.  It’s been said that getting a job is a job in itself.  It needs planning, focus and time.  The challenge is to stand out from the crowd and get noticed - for the right reasons!  So here are a few tips from Mike Ashton, Managing Director of ABCG whose intensive two- day Graduate  Employability Programme will equip you with everything you need to get the job you want - including what they don’t tell you at university.

1.  Figure out what YOU want:  Write down your list of requirements from your first company and job.  Be realistic, but as specific and detailed as you can about the type work you want to do, the training you’re looking for, the kind of place you’d like to work and where you want it to lead in the first few years.  This will help you select the right jobs to go for and avoid ending up somewhere you don’t want to be.

2. Figure out what THEY want:  Your CV and cover letter need to be adapted for each application to highlight the capabilities and experience that’s most relevant to the particular job you are applying for. Detailed examination of the job specification should give you all the clues you need – so read it carefully.  List out what they are looking for.  Try to find the really important areas - not all requirements are equal. Then match this list with your particular skills and experience and shape your CV and letter accordingly. It works!!

3. Do your homework:  Preparing an application or getting ready for an interview takes time and effort.  One of the most frequently asked interview question is; “what do you know about us”?   What that really means is: Have you prepared well? Why are you interested in us? What makes you think you’ll fit in here? Impress me!” So prepare a profile on every company you decide to pursue seriously. An application process can take weeks so write it, file it and update it to avoid lots of wasted time.  Start with their web site and follow your nose – you’ll be amazed by what you can find!

4. Build a strong case:  Employers are looking for CVs full of evidence that you have the ‘right stuff’ to succeed.  They don’t want to know what you think you’re like. They’re looking for proof and that’s found in what you’ve been doing and what you’ve achieved while at university, school and elsewhere.  Positions of leadership you’ve held - captain, president, secretary etc - things you’ve achieved, set up, run, created and work experience you’ve had. They’re typically looking for evidence of energy, determination, creativity, resourcefulness, influence and achievement. The more evidence you can offer, the more impressive your CV will be.

5. Practice pays:  Interviews are stressful and there are lots of different types – phone, face to face, panels, assessment centres.  They’re all trying to do one thing:  find the perfect match between candidate, company and job. To come across well you need to be as relaxed and confident as you can - and that means lots and lots of practice or rehearsal.  Find someone to help you practice telephone and face to face interviews – someone who know what they’re doing and is happy to give you honest feedback.  

ABCG is a consulting and training company based in Chesham. Set up by Mike Ashton in 2009, ABCG works for clients in the UK, Europe and America.

ABCG’s Graduate Employability Programme is a two-day intensive course that equips university students and graduates with everything they need to compete in the jobs market and make a positive start to their careers. Topics covered include:

• Understanding your strengths and figuring out the right career path for you
• Selecting, targeting and profiling the companies to go for
• The importance of gathering evidence of performance and achievement for your CV
• Preparing an impressive and memorable CV, cover letter and personal presentation
• Getting ready to stand out in any interview & assessment  situation
• Practical techniques to help prepare and deliver impressive presentations
• Following up and keeping in touch with target companies – persistence pays