How to find a graduate job in Northern Ireland

05 Jun Career Advice

It’s a competitive old market out there. With more people going to uni now than ever before, that means that the competition for jobs has never been greater. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get the job you deserve! Oh no, it just means you have to be more prepared and organised when it comes to your job hunt. And Radar is here to help!

Okay, we’re not going to lie to you, getting a graduate job after graduation can be a daunting task. You have to build your CV, research the jobs market, fill in application forms and online tests, nail your interviews and finally – consider your options. Phew! Walk in the park, right?

It can take a bit of time, but the reward at the end of it (hopefully an amazing graduate job) will make it worth it.
But where do you start?

Well, signing up to Radar is a good first step. We promote student and graduate opportunities, offer careers advice & host careers events such as our Careers Cafe, and provide insights into your chosen sector to make sure it is right for you.

Shameless plug aside, here are our top tips for how to find a graduate job!

1. Start your job search

After you have built your CV and made it stand out, it’s time to kick off the job search! A quick search for jobs on the internet will bring up thousands of websites, granted some might be useless, but many will be great resources for you to start looking for a job (Radar being one!).

It can become a bit mundane sifting through the different sites but have a bit of patience and you may just find that golden nugget hidden amongst the hundreds of other jobs.

As well as looking online, you can also have a look in local newspapers’ jobs section, attend careers fairs, speak to recruitment agents or even use social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to find a job!

Only 30% of jobs are actually advertised, so why not try writing a speculative application? This is a good way of finding hidden jobs that are out there. Click here for more information on how to write a speculative application.

2. Gain some experience

Gaining some sort of commercial experience is going to help you stand out from the crowd. Not only does it give you real world examples to talk about in your application and interview, but it also helps prepare you for the world of work.

This doesn’t have to be a year long industry work placement, it can also be a short internship with a local company, work shadowing for a day or two observing a professional at work, or it could even be volunteering for a few hours a week at a local business. As well as helping develop your skills in your industry and see what it is like first hand, these opportunities will help bring your CV to life, particularly if you have not had the chance to do a placement as part of your degree.

Pick up the phone and give some companies you wouldn’t mind working for a call to see if they offer any opportunities, show that you are confident and eager and it could really benefit you! If successful, another benefit of this is that it helps build your network, which leads us to tip number 3…

3. Grow your network

Establishing connections within the industry is a brilliant way to help secure a job. You may manage to do this during work experience, which is great, but you can also try and do this through other means, such as on LinkedIn (which we will discuss later).

Building a relationship and rapport with people from your industry can really help your chances of being considered for future jobs or work experience opportunities. It may be a bit daunting and force you out of your comfort zone, but having the confidence to go and speak to people and discuss your ambitions will definitely benefit you in the long-term.

If you know someone who works for a company you would like to work for, ask them to give you a recommendation or put you in touch with the right person. Many companies offer referral schemes, so you could both end up quid’s up!

Attending careers fairs or industry events is a great way to build your network. A lot of the time these people may be responsible for hiring, so go along and introduce yourself and you may walk out with a job or at the very least an interview!

4. Consider the smaller companies

Don’t forget to look out for opportunities with smaller companies and start-ups. Okay, they may not be able to offer the same salary or package as some of the larger firms, but you will gain so much more in terms of hands-on experience.

The experience you do gain will be more varied and you will likely be given more responsibility than you would in a bigger firm. The benefit of this is that when it is time for you to move on, you will have a lot more experience than some of your peers and it could actually help land you a more senior role earlier on in your career!

5. Use Social Media

Gone are the days when social media was only used to stalk your best friend’s ex or upload selfies. Social media nowadays has grown into much more.

With the recent addition of ‘Jobs on Facebook’ to the Facebook platform, this is a great way of finding new opportunities. BUT, one thing you need to remember – make sure your profile is either (1) completely private or (2) professionalised – you don’t want to spoil your chances of a job because of a few drunken pics from the weekend or posts with bad language. Keep it clean, you want to make a good impression!

The other social network which is a great help in finding a job is LinkedIn. As we mentioned previously, LinkedIn can be used to connect with people from your industry. Build your profile (include a pic!), complete all your profile sections, including any information about your education, work history, achievements and key skills.

When you have done this, do some research on your industry, find companies you would like to work for and connect with the hiring managers or people who are in the same area or function you are interested in. Create a list of relevant contacts and reach out to them to enquire about vacancies.

Including a personalised note when you send the connection request will boost your chances of success. Write a short message introducing yourself and why you want to connect.

6. Broaden your search

Are you being fussy with what jobs you are applying for? There is a saying that it is easier to get a job when you have a job. Start to consider other roles you could apply for, or the various routes in to the world of work that are available, such as options mentioned previously (internships, voluntary experience, work placement etc).

Widening the potential net of jobs that you can apply for will increase your chances of finding a job. If you have been applying for a while and haven’t been getting anywhere, it is time to reconsider your strategy. Don’t start applying for lots of jobs in a panic hoping you are going to get one. Make sure it is a suitable role and make sure you are tailoring your CV and Cover Letter for each role to hit the criteria they have asked for in the job description.

You can also upload your CV to Radar and sign up for email alerts to keep an eye on new jobs within sectors or from employers you would like to work for.

7. Stay Motivated

If you have been applying and haven’t been getting anywhere, or maybe you’ve had interviews and not been successful, it can start to become really hard to stay motivated in your job hunt. Don’t let this put you off!

It can take a lot of time and a lot of effort to find a job. Try and decide on a structure for your day and a routine which sets aside a certain number of hours each day to focus on applications. Set yourself a goal for each day for the number of applications you want to complete, or how many people you want to reach out to on LinkedIn. The benefit of setting yourself small goals each day means when you achieve that goal, you can chill out a bit knowing you are being productive and making progress.

If that isn’t working, you can check out our blog on how to #AddressYourStress

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