I was recently asked by a current student at Edinburgh University about my insight with finding a graduate job and the employment prospects someone in their final year would have. Below is my response:
To be honest, I got very lucky with my graduate job, I didn’t apply for nearly as many positions that I, in hindsight, should have done. I must stress that this is from my own personal experience and may not be the best answer for anyone else.
There are jobs out there and they must all be filled by someone. The main thing is to apply for as many jobs as you can. It does not matter how many people turn you down, it takes only one to accept you and you are sorted.
What worked for me was uploading my CV to different job sites like monster.co.uk and linkedin.com. The site that my graduate employer actually found me through was gradcracker.com. Once your CV and profile have been added, it is important to edit and update them. With some of these sites, they sort candidates by activity, so each time you update it, you go back to the top of the pile.
What also helped with both my graduate and current jobs was having my own website (not the current version, the one I had when graduating was lost when the server I was using died). I used my website as an extended CV. Where my CV had a short paragraph with only the most relevant work placements, my website had several paragraphs and covered more of my previous jobs and voluntary positions as well as a separate page detailing different projects and presentations I have been involved in (including the final reports for my research and group projects for my final years).
Once you get through to the interview stage, you want to come across as keen and interested. The most obvious way is to ask lots of questions.
I have only had a brief experience with graduate recruitment from a recruiter’s perspective where I was asked to give candidates a tour of the factory before their main interview. I was then asked by the main interviewers how they got on. They were looking for candidates that would happily have a conversation with other workers when introduced to them on the tour. Another thing they were looking for were those that were asking lots of extra questions (why does it do that? how do you get round this problem?).
Don’t get demoralised when you get a rejection. I remember getting really bothered by one company that turned me down early on. However once I found out which candidates they did take on, I was glad I hadn’t gotten the job. They were looking for people that were much more assertive and commanding, which did not suit me. I suspect that if I had gotten the job, I would not have enjoyed it. When you do get a rejection, ask what their reasons were. The worst they can do is ignore you and you might get some good feedback.
As I said at the beginning, the more places you apply to, the better your chances of finding someone who will give you an offer.
I wish you the best of luck with your search.