The first step into the workforce is an exciting one after years of study or school. Getting stuck into the real world is a big step. However, one of your greatest challenges may be highlighting your experience and capabilities, when you’ve had little or no work experience. Here are 5 tips to help you shine:
- Read the job description clearly and understand what the business is asking for. Regardless of how strong your resume is, if you’ve neglected to include a cover letter or not tailored your resume to the job you’re applying for, you’ll be cheating yourself of an opportunity to get an interview. If the job advertisement asks for a cover letter, be sure to include one. When it comes to your cover letter, be sure you thoroughly read the job advertisement and research the company, then, make it highly tailored. This is the first impression the company will have of you so make the effort to impress! Highlight the experience and skills you have which align to the job you’re applying for - this makes it easy to see why you could fit in to the role, and shows that you’ve taken the time to understand the role.
- Don’t disregard project groups and competitions. Highlighting your academic achievements is important, but be sure to sell the project groups and competitions you’ve been a part of through school or extra-curricular activities too. Outline what you did in these groups and competitions, the skills you applied and what you learnt as a result of being part of it. This is a great way for employers to see how you’ve demonstrated your skills to solve problems, and highlights that you have self-awareness, and equally can learn from others.
- A lot of young people are involved in volunteering, which is fantastic. Volunteering is a great way to build new skills in a “real world” environment, meet new people and broaden your professional network. Volunteering is a great thing to include on your resume. Beyond just putting the name of the organisation you volunteered for, be sure to include your role and responsibilities, any industry connections you made, and who you worked with within the organisation, even if remotely. This shows that you can manage responsibility, have started to build industry networks (even if in a different industry) and know how to work with people more or less senior than you. These are all important attributes to bring to a workplace.
- Manage your personal brand. When businesses are looking to hire someone they want to know they’re capable of doing the job, but that they will also suit the culture. Social media can be a great way for hirers to get an idea of the type of person you are. For many hirers it’s part of the recruitment process to look up social media sites. So keep it clean – don’t post anything that’s embarrassing or that you don’t want recruiters to see.
- Proof-read your resume and cover letter, and run a spell check to pick up any errors. You’d be surprised how many cover letters have spelling and grammatical errors, or mention other businesses or positions. Ensure your email address is professional. If in doubt, it might be worth setting up a new one just for job applications.
What are you waiting for? Get searching for your first job now.
Regardless of how strong your resume is, if you've neglected to include a cover letter or not tailored your resume to the job you're applying for, you'll be cheating yourself of an opportunity to get an interview.