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29 June 2010 | Alim Ozcan Blog
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Securing Your First Job After University
This week Alim looks at why so many graduates struggle to find their first job after leaving university...

  Alim Ozcan

I arranged to meet with a friend at the weekend to assist him with his CV and job search. He finished his IT-related degree in May 2010 and has been looking for work over the past two months without securing a single interview. His story will sound familiar with many recent and past graduates who struggle to secure their first job after university, so what can he do and why do so many graduates struggle?

The first thing that I helped him address was that his CV was only geared towards securing graduate-related jobs. It is all well and good having a CV that is designed with the intention of applying to a FTSE 100’s graduate programme but what about the larger majority of permanent and contract jobs? His CV would have stood little chance of being progressed in contrast to the thousands of other CVs that are on job boards demonstrating years of experience.

I therefore think that it is relevant for a new graduate to have three tailored CVs so that they have the versatility of applying for a range of jobs. For example, I believe that the key differences between a graduate and a contract-related CV is that the graduate CV should highlight responsibilities, interests and characteristics, whereas a contract-related CV should focus on achievements and skills (do you have the expertise to do the job and have you done it successfully before?).

Another area of focus should be job boards such as www.jobserve.com and www.jobsite.com as well as LinkedIn. With regards to LinkedIn, he hadn’t even heard of it which surprised me, especially as I recently read that a global company is looking to recruit 5,000 new staff over the next three years and it will try and recruit half through social networking sites. With regards to job boards, he hadn’t realised that the key words in his CV and also the information entered into the website would be so influential in where his CV ranked during the searches carried out by recruitment agencies (his CV was not being listed). These are imperative and should be treated as importantly as meta tags are when designing websites in ensuring they are listed highly in search engines.

One final issue that we discussed was that he had booked and undertaken a PRINCE2 Practitioner course as he thought that it would help him secure a role. Although I advocate education, the probability of him securing an interview because he has attended a 5 day project management course is low, as he doesn’t have the practical experience. I would therefore encourage that instead of spending money on training, it would be more beneficial if a new graduate without experience carried out voluntary work for not-for-profit organisations, as they are always seeking any assistance that they can get. Furthermore, he paid the full RRP of £1,800 for his 5 day course which is extortionate, as you can always negotiate a discount of approx 50%.

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