How to stand out as a graduate

You've probably read about the increasing competition in the graduate market, often highlighted by a new statistic about how many graduates are applying for each role available.

It's true that securing a job after university can take a lot of perseverance and personal branding, but there a number of things you can do to boost your chance of landing that dream job, beyond high academic achievement. Here are five things we've picked out.

Always be commercially aware

It’s easy to get so engrossed by what you're doing at university and miss things in the world around you. However, it’s important when applying for jobs that you know what’s going on in the news and the business world. A good knowledge of current affairs and issues relating to the firm you’re applying to will impress employers and demonstrate you have a real interest in that sector.

Even if you’re not applying for jobs at the moment, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse.

Network

Attend networking events and make contacts who can be helpful when starting your career. Meeting someone in person gives you a much better chance of making a good and lasting impression, compared to submitting a CV online or randomly adding them on LinkedIn. These contacts can also be incredibly helpful throughout your future career.

When you’ve met someone you want to stay in touch with, be proactive and connect with them on LinkedIn. Always send a personal message referring to when you met them or something they mentioned that you found interesting.

It may even be worth getting some business cards before you attend events. It’s easy and cheap to get them printed and they show you’re prepared and serious about your future career. Plus, it's something a little different.

Click here for a beginners guide to networking.

Have an online presence

Having a well put together LinkedIn profile is just the start – a professional Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram account can enhance your employability. You don’t have to set up separate ‘professional’ accounts, but make sure all your social profiles show you in a great light.

Many employers check their applicants’ Facebook and Twitter channels to get an idea of their personalities. If they see that you’ve shared an article related to the industry or the firm itself, this will automatically give you the upper hand.

That being said, LinkedIn is the most important professional network. If you need help standing out on LinkedIn, follow our steps to create a professional profile.

Get creative with applications

How creative you can be depends on the sector you’re applying to. In marketing, you’re often expected to do something completely unique, whereas you don’t have the same scope in law. What you can do for any application is to think about what makes you different from other candidates. This may be the experience you’ve already acquired, a skill or even a hobby. Graduate recruiters see many similar applications, so make sure you have something in yours which will grab their attention and make you memorable (for the right reasons of course).

Be passionate

As a student you won’t have developed all the skills needed to excel in your future career yet. That’s not a problem, but it does mean your attitude is crucial. Whichever firm you’re applying to, show them how passionate you are about the sector and the company. Enthusiasm and tenacity are often valued above more technical skills - all graduates should be able to demonstrate these skills (but often don’t).

And finally, be persistent. If you do experience rejection, make a point of finding out where you can improve and then move on to the next application. If you're not quite right for one firm, there is no reason why you can't be the perfect fit for another.

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