From our database of one million, yes one million, students and graduates we put the word out that GRB were on a mission to share as much advice, guidance and employment opportunities...and we wanted their help. We were overwhelmed with words of advice, positive stories, tips and most all, reassurance that things CAN work out despite everything seeming against you right now. Below is a very, very small sample what we'd like to share via this blog. Share your advice using the hashtag #helpthecovidgeneration and together we can all make a difference.
"I'm sure it will be something you've said many times already but making sure that your skills are highlighted clearly and are relevant for the role (s) you are applying for; making sure that you have more than one CV which highlight key areas depending on the industry and role in which you are applying; when you go for interview (bit more difficult now), making sure you engage with the environment, people, office to show you are not intimidated and you can adapt to new environments; making sure you don't become too attached to one role or one company when applying to avoid over-eagerness and disappointment if things don't work out; structuring your day so you set time apart for job work, leisure etc; making sure you hit a number of applications per day or per week." - Victoria Sylver
"Make a spreadsheet - If you're applying for over 20 jobs, it's going to get confusing. Make a spreadsheet with links to the job advert, submission deadlines, salary, and other details. Use the same spreadsheet to keep track of whether you have been applied, had an offer, or been rejected.
Recruiters do your work for you - Make sure you are honest about what you are looking for and go into as much detail as possible. Then sit back and let them do your work for you! Add recruiters on LinkedIn as they will often post about new roles.
LinkedIn is your new best friend - LinkedIn is a fantastic place for finding new contacts and new opportunities. Search for relevant people at companies you are applying for and drop them a message asking for advice on what they might be looking for or whether they could tell you what the company culture is like. If you'd love to work somewhere, but it doesn't look like their hiring, drop a message to a senior member of staff or someone in the HR department with your CV and a short bio. Be wary of applying for jobs through LinkedIn 'one-click' as often the adverts miss out key information and additional tasks. By applying directly via email or through the company website you can be sure you've covered everything in your application.
Email your contacts, and your contacts contacts - People you know are always a valuable commodity. By approaching contacts in the right way it could land you an incredible opportunity. By sending a genuine email or message outlining what you are looking for and asking whether they could help in some way; be it passing your contacts onto someone else they know, looking out for job opportunities, recommending you to the company, or providing some freelance work.
Freelance whilst you figure things out - If you have a skill that you can offer up to individuals or companies whilst you're looking for full time work - do it. LinkedIn now allows you to add 'Providing services' to you profile, but you need to be a bit more proactive. Whether that's starting a shop on Etsy selling homemade jewellery or artwork, or offering copywriting services to magazines - give yourself a decent rate and make sure you set out time to do a bit every week." - Rebecca Daniel
"If I were graduating right now, I'd try and grab any work going, maybe in the health and social care sector as it'll be the fastest growing sector for young people in the next year. I'd also be thinking about continuing education, maybe applying for a Master's or something to upskill myself further and wait out the economic nosedive. I've just qualified as a teacher and - contrary to popular belief - there aren't jobs everywhere for NQTs. What's helped me has been marketing myself on social media, ensuring my Linked In and 'Teacher Twitter' are up to date and active, and registering with supply agencies. I've been using the month or so I've been unemployed to study for a Level 2 course in Mental Health Awareness. Anyone wanting to study a fully funded short course like this can do so for free by searching 'free courses'. It's given my days direction and added value. I suppose it depends what people's priorities are - I'll take any work I can get in the short term in order to pay the bills." - Melissa Hooper
"I started work in water company in an area that was of no relevance to my degree (it wasn't even full time) before applying for other jobs once I had a bit of experience. This was as a result of not getting anywhere by applying to graduate roles/schemes. Once I had a job I found my chances of getting invited to interviews increased dramatically. I eventually secured a job within the same water company that was higher paid, although again it was not a job aimed specifically at graduates."- Alex Hargreaves
"I graduated back in 2018 and have been in and out of employment since then. Currently, I am myself in much the same situation as the current graduates you described and haven't had a job since Christmas since I'm still figuring out what career I want to do. But one of the things I have done since the lockdown was to really think about what skills I am good at, my life experiences and just what I enjoy doing and getting my computer to read out job descriptions of jobs that interested me, just to see if there's a pattern and a link. It's a long process and I have used this time as a great big reflection of my life so far and what I want from it, so I appreciate this is probably at a different stage to most people around my age, but I'm sharing it as many people I know are just as lost in life as me and are also figuring out their first steps to a career. I studied up to a Masters in History too, so I'm not like those who went to university with everything laid out for them, like a STEM subject would be, if anything there's too many choices for my skill set and a lot to offer, and I'm not the only one. I hope this is not too much of a ramble, just wanted to share my thoughts." - Aaron Smith
"Apply for anything and everything, if it’s meant to be it will be. Don’t underestimate your abilities, almost everyone learns on the job, don’t necessarily not apply because you feel you don’t make all of the requirements. It’s usually luck of the draw anyway. Your graduate job doesn’t have to be your life career, try not to overthink it." - Jessy Firth
" My advice would be to contact companies speculatively, not just when they have job adverts up. Email them with a cover letter explaining what area of work you’d like to go into within the company, and your CV and just let them know you exist!" - Alix Stonehouse
" One piece of advice a friend gave to me was just making your CV visible. Uploading your CV to job sites, such as Indeed, Reed, Totaljobs, etc., really helps to get your name out there and your skills and experience will become searchable by recruiters and potential employers. Also including a link in your CV to a professional and complete LinkedIn profile helps too." - George Beard
" It can be a long and arduous task looking for work and it’s natural to become disheartened and tired. Make sure you take breaks out when you can - as you would if you were writing coursework or preparing for exams - so you can come back refreshed. You’ll get interviews eventually - it’s just a case of putting in the hours! When you do get to a face-to-face stage, it’s an old trope but be yourself! Companies interview loads of graduates and the best way to stand out is being positive, enthusiastic, and sincerely “you”. We’re hiring based on who we’d like to work with, so show off who you are! One thing that I got feedback on was how interesting it was that I wrote my dissertation on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Don’t be afraid to talk about what makes you you, whether that’s the marathons you run for charity or the embroidery that you’ve taught yourself during lockdown. It makes you memorable! Of course this depends on company culture but don’t forget we’re people too, and we want to talk to real people. Remember it’s a two-way street so ask lots of questions about workplace culture, day to day tasks and responsibilities, and who you’d report to. You want to make sure you’re not signing up for a job that you might not like." - Nadia Hawkins-Gaboc
"Be open-minded about what sector you’re willing to work in. You may be surprised at how many jobs out there are suited to you in a sector you may never have considered. For instance, I studied English at university and wanted to work in PR/marketing/communications - I have now found myself working in these disciplines but within the energy industry, which I had never really considered as an attractive or suitable route for myself. So all in all, think about roles themselves as well as the sector they happen to fall into. You can find a fulfilling and rewarding career, even if the sector the recruiting organisation works in is not of immediate interest. It’s the nature of your work and the people around you that really provide the greatest satisfaction. I think it is especially important to retain this flexibility given the current challenges in the graduate job market." - Nick McAhill
"Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential employers on LinkedIn. I managed to get my job from messaging the head of my now team on LinkedIn. Connect with people in the field you’d like to get into. It’s super informative and gives you an understanding of the role. Go for coffees, network and go to events. Don’t be put off by job descriptions. It doesn’t hurt to apply even if you don’t think you’re qualified enough, sometimes your skills are transferable. Grad schemes aren’t the only jobs for grads. There are loads of entry level positions suitable for graduates that aren’t labelled as a grad job. Ask someone to be your mentor." - Zoe Yakubu-Sam
"I guess my top bit of advice would be to really research the industry that they’re looking to get into. As in all extreme circumstances, some organisations have actually done really well out of the pandemic whilst others have sadly gone under. I suppose think FMCG and Healthcare and you get the idea. Certainly from a sales perspective, I’ve found that some budgets are far more resilient than others – cyber security investment, for example, is up by 940% for the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This is one of those spends that will invariably be non-negotiable at the C suite level, so cyber security companies will always need good people. In the technology space a key topic at the moment is rationalisation and consolidation of existing toolsets. I’d say that technologies and companies that can deliver on this vision are the ones to try and get in with as they are going to create the most new value for customers." - David Lovell
"Always contact the recruiter before the interview. This is a prime opportunity to understand what the company is looking for and get an edge before you set foot into the interview room." - Sufi Husain
"So I studied Criminology at Loughborough University. I went on to to do some voluntary work (the organisation was called SOVA) with offenders to build my experience and confidence before securing a job at a Prison, working in resettlement. Following this, I had enough experience behind me to apply for the probation graduating programme - I found out about the programme via Facebook - train to become a probation officer. I completed the programme and qualified in September 2019. I am now a fully qualified Probation Officer! I have now worked with high risk offenders and even spent a period working in Crown Court. My advice is simply to look for opportunities that will help build your experience and confidence - there are hundreds of volunteering opportunities in local areas." - Chelsey Harper
"Trust your gut: If you get a gut feeling saying that a job is good for you (but maybe it’s not exactly what you’d like to do as a future career) then you should go for it. The experience you’ll get in return will be really worth it! Don’t always look at the big companies first: A lot of big companies are struggling right now and making huge numbers of cuts/redundancies. Many of them have introduced recruitment freezes for the rest of 2020. Make sure you explore every opportunity. Give start-ups a chance: A crisis also creates opportunity, and you may find that a lot of small start-ups will be looking out for graduates as they may be growing fast. These may not seem as fun or glamorous as the big brands, but the experience they provide is excellent as you’ll have to balance multiple tasks, many outside of your comfort zone. The experience I received from a health start-up in Norwich when I was fresh out of university was incredible and really propelled my career when I found work at big companies in London. Volunteer with charities: If you’re stuck at home with family, and are lucky to not have to pay rent or bills, use that time wisely and reach out to charities who need help with admin, marketing, graphic design etc that you’re able to do at home/over emails. Charities need all the help they can get during these difficult times!" - Pierce Robinson
"The only idea I can offer is for some students to consider a Masters. Whilst it does mean more debt and staying in education, it also means that with one more year (or part-time two years with a part-time internship or any role for money) when the job market is slightly more attractive, the candidate is also more skilled. I’ve read numerous times that the jump from a Bachelors to a Masters has an impact in earning potential. I wouldn’t recommend a PhD for the sake of one though, I’ve also read the jump for Masters to PhD has little impact in most roles and takes you out of the job market for a long time. Really a PhD is only applicable for specific roles that absolutely need one and they are few and far between. Of course this wont be applicable for everyone, or even feasible for some. However those in STEM fields and especially data science type backgrounds certainly wouldn’t be harmed with a Masters. I wish the best of luck to everyone graduating, and a huge congratulations to them! It’s a big achievement." - Ryan Lee Thomas
"I used to be afraid that my first job would be my forever job, and I wasn't ready for that sort of commitment. Don't wait for the perfect job because every job you have (and you will have many) will teach you so much about what you want. Just get stuck in." - Charlotte Eamonson
"Never underestimate the power of networking and reach out to people you/your parents/your friends know. Your next career move could be a conversation away. Per above, the more varied your social/recreational time is spent, will help. Play or watch a sport? Talk to your fellow viewers/participants. People buy from people." - Patrick Mulcahy
"Involve people who support you - The reality of job hunting is you can get a lot of rejections. Over time this can get really depressing, and it can make you doubt yourself and feel worthless. You're not worthless, and Bioscience can be really difficult to get that first job in but that might not make you feel any better about it. Let your friends/family know what's going on, don't suffer through it on your own. Chase recruiters and be active - Recruiters get loads of CVs to go through all the time. Submitting yours once and not following up might mean yours is getting lost amongst lots of others. If you apply for a job through a recruitment agent, get their number and call them every once in a while to check how your application is going, or if they have any other jobs you might be a good fit for." - Tom Curren
" I understand that this is a difficult time but, don't let this dishearten you. There's a quote I came across that fits into this situation: 'You have to be at your strongest when you are feeling at your weakest'. I would recommend that you use this time to learn new skills or improve your existing ones, such as,
1. Researching graduate roles and companies that you would like to apply
2. Tailoring you CV to fit the roles requirements and skills
3. I would also say do not just look at graduate roles but, there's a lot of smaller companies that struggle to get the talent. These roles can be less competitive and provide a great learning experience.
4. I would also recommend using this time to learn a new skill that could be used to make extra income in your free time such as web designing, social media marketing, tutoring.
5. I would also recommend if you haven't already, create a LinkedIn profile and connect with employers who work in the companies you want to work in. But, don't just connect, send them a message asking advice and questions as a lot of professional especially in bigger firms can refer potential candidates." - Hardeep Bhogal
"It sounds cliché but something will always come up if you’re open and willing to take opportunities where they arise. I went from university to bar work to re-qualifying as a chef to work in kitchens for five years before a chance meeting took me into the film industry. I made a good impression on the right person and things led on from that. However, there were countless times when I lost all hope and was utterly despondent - my arts degree didn’t seem to get me in the right doors and add to that I lacked professional experience outside of hospitality. I’ve since learnt to have faith that things will take a turn for the better - it may take patience, it may mean doing work you don’t feel nourished by - and the steps and decisions you take now BY NO MEANS define what trajectory your career will take if you don’t want them to, so try not to beat yourself up if things aren’t going to plan, or if all your friends have found themselves in grad-schemes and are en route to putting payments down on houses, everyone’s life shapes up differently. Try to enjoy the ride that you’re on and make the most of what you’ve got in front of you. Don’t let the myriad of options get you down, go with your gut - if it doesn’t work out it this time (tip: it probably won’t) you’ll take something from the experience and hopefully fold that knowledge into the next decisions you make." - Tom Robinson
"Don’t give up and don’t get disheartened. Rejections are part of the job hunting process (and life) and you can’t get disheartened or give up. It just wasn’t meant to be but the right one will come along. I fell into product management and I now have a successful PM career as a senior Product Manager with a huge company (and recruiters calling all the time!)" - Mark Rennie
"Be diligent, if you want a job you need to be checking relevant job boards regularly. LinkedIn is the primary source, but I also use for journalism Cision, Media Beans and follow the Media Mentor on Twitter who posts job ads every day. Be resilient, I've got to the final interviews for a job many times and eventually been rejected, but just keep plugging away because it will be all the more worth it when you have landed your dream job. Contact people you admire on social media. I recently got in touch and spoke with a few people who are much further along the career ladder than myself, just for advice and to act as a bit of a sounding board about my career and future aspirations. Put yourself out there because most people are happy to help and give advice to young people starting out. Look for free resources that are there to help you, for example, I contacted a service called PressPad which is for young journalists starting out, as they were offering a free CV clinic. I had a video chat for about an hour with a senior journalist, and got some really good advice. This example is very industry specific but I think for most there's plenty of help and tips out there on the internet, from interview tips to writing a cover letter etc. Also, join mentoring schemes in your industry. I am part of one called Women in Journalism and it has been a really good way to meet other professionals in the industry. Be active on social media - Twitter, Instagram, etc. Being a bit of a commentator on Twitter will let any prospective employers know that you're really into current affairs and what's going on. You've got an opinion and are confident expressing yourself! But be wary of its pitfalls.... also stay aware of things going on in the industry you want to work in, which for me is a news website called the Press Gazette." - Eleanor Blake
"The one true advice I can give to graduates is to be resilient. It is not going to be easy. But it takes one ‘Yes’ to cancel all the ‘No’s’ they have received. Also, they should keep working on themselves while they are waiting for that job. Work, work, work then share to the world." - Blessed Adudu
"My advice would be proactive in your application's and make sure that you've done due diligence on the company. I wouldn't have secured my current role if it weren't for 1) working whilst at University 2) being proactive with the recruitment process. When I saw the application I made sure to send across my CV, with key points over relevant provable things I'd done related to the post briefly in the email. Then, I called the recruiter who (after checking on LinkedIn) went to the same University as me, at similar-ish times. Being able to have a captive audience with the CV helped to gauge a real-time understanding of the merits/downfalls of my CV and suitability, but also allowed me to stand out from however many online-applications hadn't yet been sifted through.
After interview the hiring manager informed me that one of the main reasons they hired me was due to working alongside studies, so whatever kind of work it is, it's usually worth doing if you can find it and are still studying/in uncertain circumstances.
Make sure that you do your research and really understand the culture of the company and the people that you'll be working with. Being 'headhunted' can be exciting, but from personal experience it's better to find out the reasons around why a role needs to be filled or exists in the first place." - Louis Coates
"Consider some further study...With a lot of jobs not being currently available, you could think about making yourself more employable with a Master's. This could be expensive if you stay in the UK, especially if you can't obtain a SF loan - though instead what you could do is consider some European universities, especially in The Netherlands and Germany, where education is almost free. An additional upshot of this is that these European Master's programs are very flexible, without rigorous structure (like UK universities) allowing more freedom. This could be particularly feasible as many master's will likely be online. Furthermore, you could commit to a short (and free!) online course to further your skills. For example, HarvardedX offer lots of great free courses. I did one called CS50, a course for beginner programmers." - Trevor Cousins
"1. Keep positive and use the internet to your advantage. Plenty of firms are doing online free internships so make the most of them.
2. When you apply for a job if there is a phone number for a recruiter call it. Talk to a person and sell yourself as you will stand out more than just a CV.
3. The job market will bounce back, develop your resilience, learn new skills, read the Economist and keep up to date with the world. I’ve been asked in interviews to demonstrate times when I’ve been resilient and I’m sure recruiters will ask students what they did during lockdown and how they kept motivated.
4. Don’t rule any job out, even if it’s not a graduate scheme or an area you have considered. As a graduate you should be open as this will in itself create opportunities!" - Georgia Reynolds
"Attaining a training contract at an international law firm is very competitive and the process itself is very challenging. I would advise aspiring solicitors (and any other graduate for that matter) to get to grips with the application process, i.e. online tests, completing application forms, interview questions and assessment days, and practice! This will ensure you are well prepared and able to successfully demonstrate your skills to the recruiters. I would also advise all graduates to prepare for setbacks, seek feedback and learn from your mistakes. Doing so will help you develop a resilient growth mindset, which will be particularly important given the current uncertainty." - Oliver Williams
"My main advice I would give a graduate looking for a job is take any work experience/internships they can. The role I am currently in started with a 3 month admin role in the marketing department. This then got extended to 6 months and then I became permanent (almost been there 2 years now and running events globally). Even though the job states that it is short term, still go for it! You never know what this could lead to, especially if you put the work in." - Abigail Kramer
"As for advice, I worked a bar job at the weekends while I completed an unpaid internship after uni, and my advice would be not to be afraid of grafting - companies definitely value work ethic!" - Sally Hirst
"During and after university I took it upon myself to learn excel to an advanced level, this has been a valuable help to me as I use excel every day in my job. Just after University I travelled (staying in hostels) and gained valuable experience of different cultures - sounds very cliche but a person I met whilst travelling helped me gained work experience in the sector I want and eventually from this, the job I've always wanted." - Zarah Hodder
"It’s hard. So hard. It’s going to be even harder this year, which really sucks. I treated my job search like a 9-5 for a good few weeks, some days applying for 100 admin jobs just to find something and other times spending a whole day perfecting a single application for a dream role. All I can say is keep working at it (and go to the dentist because I bet you haven’t in years and it’s free for jobseekers)." - Sascha Cornelius
"Don’t be disheartened if your first job isn’t where you hoped your degree would lead you. This first role could give you experience that makes you stand out from others when you do rejoin your career path or even send you in a direction you hadn’t considered. I graduated during the recession and I took an admin role for a year in a small company. Being adaptable allowed me to work in a variety of roles within this company, from QMS implementation to marketing and web development. The skills gained during this year were desirable when applying for my first graduate job as an environmental compliance consultant which was related to my degree." - Lisa Dean
"Originally I wanted to work at the Norfolk Historic and Environmental Record Office. To achieve this I volunteered with them, and I also got onto the NCC temporary staff register. That enabled me to apply for internally advertised jobs that aren't advertised externally.
By volunteering I got inside info of upcoming job vacancies. I applied for and got a temp 6 month job in the NHER. During that time I also worked for another department in the NCC. Ironically I didn't really get on that well in the NHER, but I did in the other service. I have now been working for them for 7 years. I started as a part time grade C. I am now full time Grade J in a managerial role. The job has nothing to do with History and is completely unrelated to my degree. I had no work experience at all relating to this job, but I learnt how to do it from the ground up. I now do a lot of legal tenancy work.
Always have a can do attitude, employers love that, also there are less staff doing more work. Employers want hard workers who will find out for themselves what the job needs, use those research skills to the max, and then go and do it. IT skills are essential more than I can tell you. Bring all your experience to your job, and always engage with new opportunities when offered. But you do have to go out there and get it. It won't come to you." - Jo-Ann Yates
"The best advice I could give to any graduate is to setup a Linkedin profile. Many recruitment agencies and companies use LinkedIn to find suitable people for shortlisting. It’s actually how I got my current job." - Alex Smith
"Make each application specific to the job advertisement. Avoid using a blanket CV or application. Read and annotate the job advertisement closely, adding labels of your experiences or potential examples you could include in your application. Highlight the advert, colour coding areas that you have experience in and where there are gaps. This can help you to demonstrate self-awareness and a willingness to learn in your application. Do plenty of research on the organisation. Read their website, their news and recent announcements and even their social media. This can give you inside nuggets of information that you can include in your reasons for wanting to work for the organisation. Finally make sure the grammar, spelling and punctuation are accurate. get friends and family to proof read your application." - Gemma Drinkall
"I think the main one I'd give at the moment is not to be scared of short term/fixed contracts. Most employers are happy to answer the question of whether there's a likely chance of extension/being made permanent at the end of the position, and it's good for your CV even if it doesn't go long-term. I'd also suggest people ensure their application documents are specific - if you're sending the same covering letter for more than one application, it's not good enough." - Fran Lake
"Don't be upset if you are unsuccessful at psychometric testing nor in first round interviews with blue chip organisations. I was never any good at them. Consider the small-medium sized enterprises, who offer a more personal approach to their recruitment process. You can always join a larger organisation after you secure vital job experience." - Denis Andreev
"Graduates needs not rely solely on their certificate but on other transferable skills.Such skills includes but not limited to having technological knowledge within their field. For example, A marketing graduate could acquire marketing analytics knowledge from edx. Org, or google skillsshop. A business graduate could learn business innovation model amd value proposition, understand supply chain analytics and IoT. An engineering graduate on the other hand needs to have certain level of analytical knowledge, the use of power BI, python or basic SQL. These knowledges for all graduates also includes a strong ability to manage their emotions, positive team work attitude, brilliant communication skills, overall, a strong emotional intelligence level." - Jane Ezemandu-Ochiobi
"Send out CVs on a speculative basis to see if there are any openings. Even if there are not, a firm may create a position if they like your CV. Connect with as many recruiters as possible." - Deepa Mehta
"1. Be open minded about that first job. So many people don't like the idea of working in sales but you will learn so many useful life skills; about how people tick, humility and how to get the best out of people.
2. The actual subject you studied is less important than the transferable skills you have learnt. Try to think through what transferrable skills your course has taught you i.e. working in a team, project planning and time management.
3. Try not to get too disheartened. Organisations can be so rude, not acknowledging your application and if they do, refusing to give you any feedback as to why you did not make it through to the interview round.
4. It's better to apply for fewer jobs and spend the time putting together a really good application. Do a bit of online research about the company to get a feel for what skills they might value and spend the time re-focussing your CV to each job. A scatter gun approach, making multiple generic applications is just a waste of time.
5. Keep a Word document of answers you give to those tedious open-ended questions where you have to give examples of your wonderfulness. Companies often use similar questions so it's worth putting together as good an answer as you can because you will inevitably be able to use parts of it on another application.
6. With the above 'tedious open-ended questions' remember to support anything you are saying about yourself with examples, otherwise you just come across as cocky. No-one likes hubris.
7. Hopefully I don't need to mention typos and grammar. It really annoys me on FB when people use the wrong 'there' or type 'were' instead of 'where'. There's no excuse when it comes to job applications! Read your application out loud to check it makes sense and that you've not got any missing words." - Louise Sullivan
"a) Try to get some work experience in the area they want to work in. Contact companies and ask if you can do 2-3 weeks works experience (unpaid), preferably shadowing someone senior. Or even junior jobs where you can be paid, make contacts, and just to start learning about the business.
b) Research the industry/company you are applying for, and make it sound that this is the one company that you were born to work for, and want to work for until you retire. e.g I am passionate about this industry because... And be able to discuss what are their current issues / programmes / risks / opportunities / competitors etc.
c) If the industry requires professional qualifications, register and make a start of the first material / exams. Then at interview you can say, I have already had some experience at ABC, I really found it interesting etc and it confirmed this is the industry for me. The issues facing your business are XYZ, I have the grown the skills to be able to deal with this / add value etc...and I have already made a start on the professional exams.
d) Get polished application and interview answers. Organise experience into competences and strengths, using the STAR technique, and practice saying it in a confident and structured way. Also think about weaknesses / how something you have done could be improved - and to this question NEVER say nothing could be improved or I don't have weaknesses, as there is always something and you need to show honestly. Equally don't say something was a complete failure." - David Abbott
"I also found a weakened career market on graduation from a Modern Language degree in 07 during the credit crisis, it's a very daunting prospect so I'm happy to help. Look for a graduate scheme that maybe doesn't fit your studies to start with for some career experience. Enterprise rent a car trainee graduate was my first job. My second was at Cooper Industries, using my studies, after I worked a ski season, after that I joined AJ Walter aviation. I have since joined the Army, I did not know that they recruit and train linguists and the job stability offered in this career during this difficult time has been invaluable." - Jasmine Carter-Morley
"Keep positive, and plugging away. I'm sure there are countless doors being shut on your face. It's demoralising, and the feeling of wanting to give up is just something you have to ignore. Right now, for the vast majority of grads it is not a reflection on you, but just the timing that you have come to the job market. Continue to look for potential avenues.
Be more open to different career paths, within reason. When I first left university I was very specific as to the role I wanted, and it took 18 months of applying before getting to where I wanted to be at the time (this was in 2013, so a much healthier market than now). Looking back now I feel being more flexible with what I wanted could've given me a broader skillset than I have today.
Leverage your network. Whoever it is that you think could be helpful, ask. There is no harm asking for help, when you do it the right way. And if there is an adverse reaction, this is a reflection on them, and not you.
If an option, you could look at further study if something like a Masters is something you were looking to do in the future etc? You could try your hand at starting your own business. Right now, with most grads without commitments, now is a perfect time to try. If struggling for ideas, think about your Uni experience, what would've made it better, what worked well. What irritates you in you life, and what solution would make it more convenient?" - Phavinder Poonian
"My advice to graduates is be proactive, if you find a company hiring, connect with the hiring manager/talent team on LinkedIn - make yourself known as your application goes in and personally express an interest to them directly." - Ben Wilson
"Think about what field you want to be in. Look for jobs in that field - not necessarily exactly the job you want. Getting a job in that field really is "a foot in the door," and is often a way of moving on to something better for you!" - Juliet Topping
"It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed for interviews. Keep your tone and language professional at all times and avoid colloquialisms or slang in your written communications and interviews. If you’re invited to a virtual interview then pay attention to your lighting, sound quality and internet connection. Test everything repeatedly so there are no delays or slip-ups on the day. Jump at opportunities and don’t take rejections too harshly. Gather feedback wherever possible on how you presented during the process and apply it for the next role." - Samuel Howell
"Join as many recruitment sites as possible. Apply for jobs you might not want to at good companies. I worked in a back office role at PwC for a year for the experience and to add them to my CV. It helped. Use your time wisely, try doing courses over the summer to improve your office suite skills, or something more focused. I learnt how to build financial models and it’s one of the talking points which sealed my current job." - Jordan Minkin
"1) Get experience in as many different companies you can, even just for a day or two. Ask family, friends of family and reach out to companies that interest you, or even ones that don't. Do this for free (very, very, very tough I know). But this is more to find out what you love to do, what interests you, the variety of roles out there and also what you don't like. It will also make your CV stand out.
2) If you are lucky enough to get an interview, research, research, research about that company. What do they do well, what they don't do well, what are their plans for the future, what policies do they have, what do their employees say about them, what is their share price, who are thier competitors? Everything you can.
3) Finally, in an interview, be enthusiastic. This is a great opportunity... show that you want it and want to be there and always ask questions." - Simon Bailey
"Continually learn - Have a look at current or old (but recent) job ads. Get a feel for what jobs interest you and what skills they are asking for. Start thinking how you could develop those skills now to make yourself top of the pack for when the job market picks up. There are a lot of online resources available to help develop skills, often free or for a minimal cost. Cousera, Udemy, Udacity all have good online courses to help develop skills. Read the reviews though as they can vary in quality quite a bit.
Read and Listen - Listen to podcasts to build awareness of industries. DataFuturology is a good one for those looking to get into a Data Science career. I also enjoy the HBR IdeaCast for general business knowledge. Read some books. I find biographies of people quite interesting to understand how they got to where they are today, e.g. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Phil Knight in Shoe Dog, Michelle Obama, Jessica Ennis. Audio books are also good if you want to combine exercising with reading. Read articles. Linkedin is a great resource to read short articles to build up knowledge in particular industries or topics.
Do something you enjoy - Don't force yourself to learn something you don't enjoy. When it comes to strengths and weaknesses there's an analogy with a sinking ship that I like. Focus on your weaknesses enough to plug the holes in the ship to keep you afloat, then focus on your strengths to propel you forward. There's a strong, positive correlation with strengths and enjoyment.
Finally it doesn't have to be a work related activity you do to gain skills or experience. I appreciate that a lot of graduates may be missing out on their gap year they had planned to take a break from study and work before they start their career. This has now changed for reasons out of their control but what else could they do? Help around the community, help a neighbour out or just set yourself a goal e.g. to get fit, lose weight, run 10km. When I hire yes I look for skills to fit the job but more often than not (and especially for a graduate/entry level position) I look for motivation, work ethic, passion, communication, ability to work with others and learn from experiences.
Good luck and stay safe. Remember we can not change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand (Randy Pausch)." - Sally Grove
"The job market has always been competitive, even before COVID-19, the best way to get a reaction is to create traction. This means more than applying for a job, it means messaging talent recruiters for that company, follow the company on LinkedIn and socials, sharing and commenting their content to show your interest in working for them." - Masha Mayahi
"My advice is don't be scared of senior figures in a company. This especially applies in interviews. I use to get petrified over talking/presenting to anyone senior, and when I first started interviewing I always found the interviewer intimidating for no real reason. When I finally realised that all these people are just human, they are also scared of something and they have been through this exact same experience to get to where they are now, it allowed me to talk openly with them and I immediately gained their respect." - WilliamTorr
"My advice for graduates would be to not put too much pressure on yourself to plan your entire career right now. Whatever first step you take into the world of work is going to help you in the long run, even if it takes you in a slightly different direction than you anticipated. Try to think about the experience and transferable skills you’ll get from a role rather than the job title itself." - Cherry Cooke
"Figure out your strengths, focus on your interests and explore your options based on who you are and what works best for you, not just what a generic expectation of graduates with your degree is. Don’t forget: the aim of your degree wasn’t only to give you in-depth knowledge of certain subjects but also to equip you with a variety of great and transferable skills like researching, analysing, managing your time, working under pressure and tackling unexpected, complex tasks. Add to this your interests, any work experience and other activities you have been part of during your time at Uni and your unique formula of what you can offer to your potential employer is there!
This formula will help you to filter out any jobs that are not suitable for you, it will define roles you should be focusing on and also assist in all the steps involved in getting the job that you want. Showing the recruiter true passion, a great skill set that perfectly fits the role and confidence in yourself and in your choice is a much stronger base for success than good final grades and a total lack of interest in the opportunity.
Finally, don’t give up! It is a very challenging beginning and you are getting it the hardest right now but you will win, no matter what. Remember all the hard times you faced before: you persevered and won, right? This time will be the same." - Inga Birzakova
"The advice I would give to a graduate in this current climate is to look for a transition job while you are looking for a permanent role. By that I mean try to get a part time job in a supermarket or a bar or something whilst you keep applying to the larger companies. This will not only keep you financially stable in this troubling period, but also boost your CV with experience and show that you are hard working. This is the route I took when moving down to London with no job lined up. I went to all the bars personally with my CV (I think this makes a difference when trying to get a job in the services sector) and managed to get a bar job. At the same time I kept applying to job roles and contacting recruiters and eventually I got a graduate job." - Joe Sykes
"Be honest, interviewers can tell immediately when you’re exaggerating (or making up!) your experiences. Employers aren’t looking for people that are experts - or they wouldn’t be recruiting graduates. Show interest and enthusiasm to learn about the sector/role you’re applying for and be thoroughly prepared with why you’re interested and how it links to skills you’ve built previously." - Deborah Hickman
"Have a complete LinkedIn profile, and use their job search function. You can search for key words such as graduate or entry level, and some companies have made it very easy to apply via LinkedIn. Many companies now have a much easier application form than 5-6 years ago. Use the sidebar to look at related companies to ones you like the look of.
Don't forget smaller companies, work can often be more interesting, and the experience you get there can also be much broader than a traditional grad scheme or grad role at a large company.
Take advantage of online courses if you are able to at this time, and add to your knowledge and experience early on. There are some that will have discounts or reduced rates so always enquire if the cost is an issue.
Don't be afraid to email a company directly if they don't have any jobs posted, or message their hiring manager via LinkedIn. Like all applications it won't always work, but can make you stick out if you come across as genuinely interested in the company. Just don't spam them if they don't respond!
Use free services like Canva to create a more stylish CV - obviously match it with the type of place you want to apply to but there are templates on there that can really make your CV stand-out
It's not always possible, and looking for a job can be hard, but if you have the luxury of time, then do take it. Try and find companies/organisations that you like instead of jobs, to begin with, and then see if those companies are hiring, or find similar ones that are." - Jamal Mehmood
"Read information on how other recruits found employment (blogs). Use your career advice centre at university, network and attend as many career development activities.Commit to personal development! During these uncertain times up skill with free online courses, read, read, read." - Joy Anwuri
"I think theres two approaches, play the numbers game and mass apply to any and all job posts or be very meticulous with the ones you apply too. I know theres always a fear of not getting a job, which prompts most people to mass apply, but I really believe if you take the time and look for roles and industries that truly call to you, youll have a much higher success rate in progressing through the interview stages. I took the latter approach for both my placement year and graduate scheme; both took a fair time to secure but have turned out to be some of the best work experiences I've had. I think because I sought after roles that fit my skill set and shown a genuine interest in the sectors, that really came across throughout the interview process and surprisingly helped with the nerves because i actually knew what i was talking about! Not only that, I also looked for companies that I felt could help me progress in my career. The last thing you want is to go through the gruelling process and then to find after a year or so, you're not getting the support or development help you need - its a two way thing, so I would ask about that during the interview process! Also, just be yourself! I know nerves gets the best of all of us during interviews and theres almost an element of being afraid to let your personality show, thinking it may come off a bit unprofessional. But I think if you could find a way to show your character, in an environment where majority of people are afraid to, you really do stand out from the crowd." - Maz Islam
"When applying for a role ensure your CV and Covering letter highlight your skills that are aligned with the job requirements. Research the company you are applying to. You may find it hard to get your ideal role straight away so look into expanding companies where you may be able to develop and move up the ladder. Connect with your fellow graduates to see where they have found opportunities. Apply to roles you would enjoy over salary and location, you will find enjoying your job becomes more important then money. Plus through enjoying your role you are more likely to want to progress and move up, doing a job just for the money will soon tire you out." - Satpal Tut
"One of the places where I have had several leads is on Linkedin, so I would definitely recommend ensuring that your profile is up to date. Join discussion forums and as many recruitment sites and chats as possible, but also ironing a shirt, printing off your CV and going round recruitment firms in person. Fairs can also have good leads, whether they are recruitment specific or in a domain which you are interested in, and keep networking! Though a firm may not have a job for you, they may know someone who does. It can be a long process at first, but sometimes once you in their minds as someone who presents well and seems hard working, they can call you later down the line. Try to make your CV as simple and job relevant as possible, make the recruiter's life as easy as possible; give them easy access to referees." - Catherine Hunter
"Tailor your applications and leverage your unique selling point! You need to make yourself as attractive and unique as possible now more than ever. You're not going to achieve that by just putting in the clichéd keywords into your CV ("passionate", "hard-working", "team player" etc.). You need to ask yourself: "What makes me valuable to prospective employers?"To achieve this, I'd recommend that you research the roles you're applying to in order to understand which attributes are most desired by employers and to conduct a personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on yourself. When you consider your strengths, identify what you have that not many other people have (qualifications, experience, knowledge etc.) and what you can do that not many other people can (skills). What makes you stand out from the other applicants? Is it one particular attribute or a combination of attributes that is hard for employers to find? When you understand your unique selling point, you'll know what to highlight on your CV and in your interviews." - Christopher Watkins
"• I would ask graduates to reflect on their skill set, what they can bring to a company and how can they successfully market themselves. Are their LinkedIn profiles up to date? Do they have good skills they can ask their networks to endorse them for? I would advise them to utilise the plethora of free or low-price content to upskill on any development areas, from Future Learn to the Great Course Plus to Khan Academy, there is so much out there.
• Who in their network can they call in a favour from? Is there a connection that isn't utilised or exploited fully? Could they offer to write copy for an agency for free in return for a testimonial if they are looking for marketing experience as an example. As you know, they will be surprised that for every ignored reply there may be one person who is willing to help. It is about leveraging opportunities to open up doors to experiences they may not have considered, take a chance! Your career will take many detours, there is no such thing anymore as one career for life. You can be a generalist, a specialist, an all-rounder and more suited to a project manager or business delivery role if you are highly organised and conscientious for example.
• They may want to sit down and discern what it is they want to do, what spaces they want to play around in before they settle into a commitment, relocation or new opportunity. What intersections are there between their interests, skills, the current needs of the sectors that interest them, if they are more academic leaning - what interesting interdisciplinary research areas they could keep up to date with. Subscribe to every email newsletter with these caveats to avoid email fatigue - set automatic rules for them to go into separate folders with a second rule to sweep and keep the latest email from each sender only.
• To maintain a positive attitude, and to not feel helpless, I would say take it easy!! Do one thing a day that makes tomorrow easier for you, even if it is simply clearing your email inbox. It is about balance and rewarding yourself. Avoid perfectionism too! If in doubt, set a time limit for a task and plan your day.
• The best piece of advice I ever received and I still use to this day is 'trust your instinct'. It is simple yet effective. When you can filter sources of information, be objective whilst aligning how a potential decision makes you feel, you are in the driver's seat and can make better choices." - Ranbir Jabanda
"I remember the toughest part about finding a job was getting someone to give you a chance, particularly if you are going for your first job (and you can't take for granted that it will be easy for graduates compared with non-graduates). Luck plays a surprisingly big part in recruitment (particularly whether you happen to be entering the jobs market at a good time or a bad time). I entered it at a fairly bad time (the last recession) but felt that, even if you are unlucky in some respects, you need to do your best with whatever factors you do have control over: get good qualifications behind you, and try to think creatively with what selling points there are to your qualification, and not just the content. I did a history degree, but the jobs looking for historical knowledge are limited- but the research and analytical skills you use are a good selling point, as are the IT skills you might use during a degree and presenting skills you may use in seminars. Another factor is your experience: one of the greatest frustrations is seeing time and again that certain experience is required in job adverts (or certain experience is at least desirable)- but how can you get that experience if no-one hires you in the first place? You therefore need to take what opportunities you can to cultivate that experience, and try to make those experiences relevant to the career you want. Ideally it would be paid work but, if not available straightaway, maybe voluntary work or work experience would be a constructive way to pass the time, get experience behind you, and maybe make contacts who can ultimately steer you towards paid work. And remember that voluntary work/work experience can be a good way of getting a taster of a career- often the idea of a job on the one hand, and the job in practice on the other, can be different, so this is a way of seeing what the job is like before you potentially set off down a career path that doesn't actually suit you. Also, going back to contacts: unfortunately, in the real world, it is still often the case of not what you know but who you know that helps because, at the end of the day, people are more likely to hire someone they are familiar with and trust- recruitment is disruptive, time-consuming and expensive for employers, so they want to get the right person first time round! Therefore, if you can work somewhere on an unpaid, informal basis, you can make a good impression and be more likely to be hired as a paid, long-term employee. Alternatively, put yourself out there with family, friends and neighbours and see if they can help. Ideally you would get a job purely on your own efforts, but sometimes you just have to take whatever opportunities you can. If someone gets you a job opportunity, you can then prove that you deserved the opportunity in the long run (this is how I got my chance with my career- seven years on I am still there, and my work is appreciated and I feel valued in my own right). Getting a job in the first place can be the toughest step and, even if that job isn't what you want long term, it tends to be easier to find another job when you are already employed, and in the meantime you are building up experience (not to mention earnings!). If you take on a job and, whilst you feel that the role/industry is right, but the company you work for might not be the right one, being on LinkedIn can lead to new opportunities, as this seems to be a hub for modern day head-hunters (I have been offered other jobs on there over the years- I haven't take them, but they were there if I was unhappy and wanted to take on opportunities elsewhere)." - Mark Shead
"My advice is to keep a really open mind about the industries that you consider and roles that you apply for. Most graduate roles are not looking for specific knowledge in a given area, but rather the wealth of experience and transferable skills that completing a degree in any subject gives you. I joined a grad scheme at a technology company, and as well as those who had studied technical or business degrees, there were others with Chemistry, English or Foreign Language degrees. The company was more concerned with applicants having the right attitude and an appetite for learning - the rest they can teach you! Whilst you may have studied a certain subject with the hope of working in that area, think of this as an opportunity to discover how you can apply the skills and knowledge you've gained at university to a totally different industry - it could be the start of something really exciting." - Stephanie Yank
"My advice for graduates right now would be to go for everything you can, but also remember that change is okay and there is no right way. I did an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship after my BA in English Literature, but I went straight into the first job interview that accepted me before I’d even graduated. I stayed there for nearly four years, before putting my own personal goals first, teaching English abroad after studying a CELTA course part time. I worked for a summer in Vietnam and travelled around whilst in South East Asia, and had already secured a year’s teaching contract in Spain. I came back from Spain after a year that was the happiest I had been since being at university, with the intention of finally giving myself the opportunity to be self-employed. I think it’s important to task risks and having been self-employed for nearly three years now, I wish I’d done it sooner. If you can’t find employment, it’s worth trying this route.
Being self-employed does mean you’re often looking for work, and it can sometimes make me feel like I’m not an “adult” at the age of 31, simply because it goes against conventions; it’s not something I was ever taught about as an option. However, having recently had an interview for some part time employed work, to fit around my existing work – which is primarily as a tutor and content writer – the interviewer was really impressed with my CV. It’s only looking back that you can see what you have achieved, and having worked in education for over seven years, I’ve also had two book published, and obtained two ACE grants to tour the arts show that I produce (She Grrrowls), with one promoting a poetry book that I edited (published by Burning Eye Books), which is currently being processed as an audiobook.
As a writer, you have to face a lot of rejection, but the small successes keep you striving for more, from being published in Popshop magazine after six years of trying, to supporting poet Sabrina Benaim at Bush Hall on her UK tour, to being on many longlists for awards! In 2015, I was Highly Commended for an Ideas Tap’s Sky Arts Scholarship, and in 2014 I was long-listed for Young Poet Laureate for London, in 2017, I was longlisted for the inaugural Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships and in 2018, I was longlisted for the Out-Spoken Prize for Performance Poetry. Whatever your chosen pathway, celebrate what you have achieved so far and look forward to what is to come." - Carmina Masoliver
"Take advantage of the vast amounts of electronic and printed material available to you during your time at Uni. Join or set up extra-curricular groups to debate and document topics that were discussed in classes. Participate in industry forums where you have an interest, either as a speaker or even just as a participant. Listen to your customers, peers, seniors and reports. Show them that you listen and don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Make a disciplined and sustained effort to do this on a continuous basis. Finally, add to your formal and informal learning multiple times a year and every year, reflect on your accomplishments and where you would like to be." - Salman Jaffer
"1. You were hired to be ambitious, so be ambitious. If people think that sounds obnoxious, they secretly wish they had your drive.
2. "Stupid questions" is a phrase used by people who asked the same question and now know the answer. Ask stupid questions.
3. You do not make a good impression by always agreeing with everyone more senior than you. Be an individual, contribute and challenge on topics you feel you are educated in.
4. It goes without saying, but be kind to everyone and always be professional. You never know who you might get talking to in the coffee area or in a lift.
5. Embrace the challenge. It's absolutely fine to make mistakes, fail, struggle and feel totally out of your depth. That's how you learn.
6. Do not let the company tell you how to do YOUR graduate scheme. It is for you and any company that says the business needs outweigh your own is not a company you want to work for.
7. You may not be the smartest right away, but you can be the most passionate." - Blair Murphy
"1) Be proactive. No-one will know who you are unless you get your name out there. Reasons for not finding work quickly become excuses, unless you do something about it. Don't wait for the perfect job to arrive. It is a good idea to look for a job that not only gives you a sense of fulfillment, but something you can gain. I gain huge satisfaction when I can go to work and I can say I've learnt something new. Since being a tutor in August 2019, I've learnt new skills such as tutoring a problem on Microsoft Paint, helping parents with technical IT issues and making learning interactive!
2) Be persistent. When I have asked for an opportunity to work somewhere, I am more likely to be asked for interview when I have been in direct contact with the employer. First impressions count! Be bold and be fearless. Ask to speak to the hiring manager and you're onto a good start. Showcase your enthusiasm and reasons for working there. If they are putting barriers up such as "you don't seem to have the right qualifications" and "we aren't hiring right now", turn these statements into positives! For example:
- I am eager to learn. I am excited to learn more about the role by shadowing someone who is already in this role. Is there an opportunity to do that in this role?
- Are there similar roles to this in your company that I can apply for? I'm excited to know more!" - Reena Patel
"1. BE PERSISTENT
- Be PERSISTENT with your job search as you only need one YES.
- Widen your search by applying directly to employers or via recruiters. Apply for any job search even if it's not within your field- it is about making an entry into the employment world and you never know where this starting position may lead you to.
- Continuously seek feedback on your CV/application process/ Interview and implement these positively.
2. CONTINUE TO BUILD YOUR KNOWLEDGE
- RESEARCH is the key as this will be the differentiator between interview candidates.
- LEARN the current development, challenges within your chosen field and come up with potential solutions.
- Build your NETWORK and LINKEDIN is fantastic for this. Reach out for contacts within your selected fields/organisations and catch up virtually. This is the positive of current climate that location isn't any barrier to build your network and people are generous about helping during this time.
- Take the opportunity to obtain certificates using online resources and get ahead of the game.
3. CONTINUE TO ENHANCE YOUR CV WITH SKILLSETS
Alongside your job search you can continue to enhance your skill set and articulate these skill sets creatively on your CV.
Few examples are:
1. Teaching (Paid/Unpaid) - With schools being closed you can offer to teach ( at any level you can manage even a primary school child) and help with their homework. This could be your siblings/ someone in your neighbourhood or offer your support on Facebook group. Coaching and mentoring are great skills to demonstrate on your CV.
2. Volunteer at local charity or for your local small business - Both of these sectors have suffered significantly during this COVID-19 crisis and they would welcome any volunteers. Even helping to arrange fund raising or completing basic excel spreadsheet for local business account will help you enhance your CV.
3. Take on a volunteer project which may help the local community such "Green waste" or "Build digital awareness for elder generation". These projects from idea to completions are fantastic achievements to add to your CV. This may just lead you to identify your inner entrepreneurial skills." - Mayuri Prajapati