Congratulations! After countless lectures, essays and hours spent in the library, all your hard work has paid off and you’re officially a graduate. However, now you’ve been thrust into the big wide world and are faced with the daunting prospect of putting your degree to good use and finding a job.
Taking that first step in your career can be tricky, especially if you’re entering a sector (like the legal profession), where competition between candidates is fierce. But don’t despair, there are a number ways you can make your job hunt a success and increase your chances of landing that first graduate role.
Keep your CV sharp, precise and to the point
The CV is the first port of call for any employer when fishing for people to interview, so you want yours to give a good overview of your experience and illustrate your potential, whilst nonetheless being precise and punchy! Sifting through multiple CVs isn’t necessarily the most fun of tasks, so you want to ensure that yours stands out for the right reasons.
Overly-designed, lengthy CVs aren’t encouraged in the legal profession. Instead, your CV should be well-written, concise and formatted in an easy-to-read way that stands out from the competition. Don’t use filler words and specifically focus on your experience and achievements. Make sure you include academic grades where relevant; leaving them out can cause suspicion, which might lead to your CV being dismissed out of hand.
Use job boards (up to a point)
Job boards are a great place to start with your job search, as hundreds of prospective employers and recruiters use them to post their most recent openings. You can find specific roles by using keywords associated what you’re looking for.
Do be aware, though, when you apply for jobs your CV will be automatically added to databases connected with these job boards, meaning all of the employers and recruiters advertising there will also have access to your CV, so you’ll probably receive more than a few phone calls. Don’t discount these calls, though. The people calling you will likely have suitable opportunities to suggest to you. It’s important to make sure, however, that whoever you speak with only has permission to send your CV on to third parties with your express consent after they’ve actually talked to you about a particular vacancy.
Get stuck into LinkedIn
LinkedIn is increasingly being used as a platform for employers and recruiters to find talent, so having a professional profile is a great way to market yourself. Create a profile with a detailed bio, thoroughly filled out experience sections and an appropriate profile picture. It’s not uncommon to receive direct messages from employers and recruiters on Linkedin who are hiring. Don’t feel threatened or be put out by these messages, instead, see them as an opportunity to engage with people who could prove extremely useful in your search for the right role.
Use other social media platforms
Linkedin isn’t the only relevant social media platform. As the digital landscape has changed and evolved in recent years, employers and recruiters have broadened their horizons, with some of them now using Twitter and Facebook to find candidates for the roles they’re recruiting for. Following your target employers and industry-specific recruitment consultancies, and searching for relevant hashtags are the best ways to be noticed and find jobs. For example, if you’re looking for a legal job within the legal profession, you’d type in #lawjobs or #legalrecruitment.
Find good recruitment consultancies to work with through research
Whilst some recruitment consultancies profess to recruit across all industries and sectors, it is difficult to be all things to all people, so unless they’ve got specialists in place dealings with particular markets, you might be best off steering clear and going to niche agency. Do some reading up on the consultancies you’re thinking about speaking with – Have they got a professional website? Are their consultants on LinkedIn? Do they have recommendations? Again, if the answer to these questions is no then you might want to think twice. It also important to note that most vacancies advertised on job boards are advertised by consultancies, so it is probably worth going through the process above before you freely give up your CV and confidential information when applying for a role.
One of the best things about using a recruitment consultancy is that it is free to do so; you can’t go too wrong as long as you find a professional and reputable outfit to assist you.
Be precise and patient with your search
Be patient with your job search. Rome wasn’t built in a day. There’s no point in applying for vacancies on job boards purely for the sake of it. In fact, if employers or recruiters see your CV on multiple occasions in relation to a wide variety of roles, they’re likely to start ignoring it as it gives off the wrong impression. Seeking out a good consultancy and teaming up with an effective recruiter will pave the way for you to make well-informed and relevant applications, maximising your chance of success.
Be thorough with your pre-interview research
Research the employer, their business and the role; don’t just recite the ‘about us’ section of the company website. Any recruiter worth their salt will provide you with guidance on how to prepare for your interview in detail, and also give you some insight and information on the company and what they’re looking for. Being properly prepared for the interview demonstrates to the employer that you are not only interested in the job, but are taking the process seriously.
Be prepared for rejection
The chances are that you might not be so lucky as to get a job offer following the very first interview you attend as part of your search. Yes, rejection can be hard, but building up resilience will stand you in good stead, both in terms of your search for a role and within your career more generally. Even if you struggle with rejection, you should never take a ‘no’ to heart; it is just business and you’ll do well to remember that there’s always something else out there.
Interviewing is itself a great practice for future interviews and getting feedback from an interview can help you perform better in your next one. Some employers will readily give back feedback, whereas others might not. Usually, if you go through a recruiter they’ll provide feedback directly from the employer and also ask you for feedback.