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Applying for a Graduate Job

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 16 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Many new graduates fret and fear that they will never be able to compete with more experienced candidates on the job market and for the most part they are right. However this is as it should be. Rarely are graduates considered for positions that require extensive industry experience, so in effect they are only competing against each other for graduate jobs or what are sometimes called entry level jobs. These positions are usually advertised as such, and graduates are usually judged on all of their life experiences, including educational qualifications, paid and unpaid employment and outside experiences and interests.

Educational Qualifications

Educational qualifications should be arranged in your application in such a way as to be easily skimmed by the recruiter. The purpose of including your educational qualifications is two-fold. The first thing that recruiters will look at is which courses you have completed and the grades that you have achieved. This lets them know in a mundane but efficient way that you have experience with pertinent subjects and which level of mastery you have achieved. The second purpose is to learn more about your specific skills. For example, students who engaged in seminars are probably experienced in presentations, and students with significant computer experience no doubt will be more comfortable with computers if not most technology. When detailing your educational qualifications, don’t forget to add any certificates or “interest” courses that you have taken in addition to your university experiences, if you feel that they are relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Paid and Unpaid Employment

As a recent graduate, no one is expecting that you will have significant employment experience but prospective employers will be expecting to see some experience even if it has been unpaid. This means that any voluntary placements, internships and/or shadowing experience should be included on your CV or in your application and you should highlight both the tasks that you completed and the skills that you learned which would be applicable to the position you are seeking. Paid employment even if it does not seem particularly relevant should also be presented as it again proves to employers your level of responsibility, and probably much more.

Outside Experiences and Interests

While prospective employers and recruiters may not be interested in everything you do after hours there are certain types of extracurricular activities that should most definitely be present in a graduate job application. For example, don’t be shy about highlighting:

  • Any language skills that you have acquired and your level of fluency.

  • Any technical skills that you have acquired and your level of mastery.

  • Any certificates that you have earned in subjects related to the position for which you are applying, for example first aid certificates or computer skills certificates.

  • Any voluntary activity to which you are dedicated, such as coaching a local children’s sports team or organising fundraising efforts for a local charity.

Applying for a graduate job may seem tricky, but in reality all you need to worry about is preparing your CV, cover letter and supporting documentation to show that you are a well rounded individual with basic knowledge and skills to suit the position for which you are applying. No one will expect you to be an expert or to know everything about your chosen industry, so don’t try to convince anyone that you do. Instead, be honest, be positive and be enthusiastic. When they see what a great prospect you are any smart employer will snap you right up!

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