Moving from the university or other tertiary studies to the working world can be daunting – especially in a challenging jobs market. According to Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT), full-time undergraduate employment rates fell from 72.2% to 68.7% between 2019 and 2020, largely driven by the impacts of COVID-19 on the labour market. In addition, the percentage of undergrads working in a job not fully utilising their education increased in 2021.

Fortunately, however, the report from QILT found that the full-time graduate employment rate is increasing as we move past the immediate effects of the pandemic. What’s more, data from Indeed’s Graduate Outcomes Survey 2021 reveals that nearly half of all graduate employers anticipate hiring five or more graduate employees this year.

For those who have recently graduated or are soon to complete their studies, now is an opportune time to enter the job market. But are you struggling to find a graduate job? These five tips will help set you up for success in your graduate job search.

1. Start building your work experience

One of the most obvious ways to stand out amongst your graduate peers when applying for jobs is to have relevant experience on your resume. Now, this isn’t to say that you must have professional experience that perfectly applies to the roles you’re applying for – but it is a good idea to start building a transferable skill set as soon as you can.

Look into relevant internships and work placements that will give you real-world exposure to the types of environments and tasks you might come across in a full-time job. Even volunteering experience is useful for demonstrating that you have a solid work ethic and broadly applicable skills, such as interpersonal abilities, initiative and good time management.

2. Get your resume and cover letter job search-ready

Most graduate jobs will require you to submit a cover letter and resume when you apply. While you might already have these from past casual jobs or internships, now is the time to make sure they’re completely up to date with all your relevant experience, education and skills.

When it comes to applying for specific roles, the golden rule is to tailor your resume and cover letter to suit the job. Think of your main resume and cover letter as a base template and adjust both to make sure your skills and experience are applicable to the job description, using the same keywords where relevant.

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3. Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs before graduation

While your ideal graduate job might not be available to you yet, there’s no time like the present to start your job search and gauge interest from prospective employers. Submit your resume to career websites and recruiter databases so you’ll be the first to know about open graduate job opportunities.

If a hiring manager or recruiter likes your application, they could be in touch for an informal chat to find out when you will be graduating and available to start work.

4. Network, network, network

The saying “It's not about what you know, but who you know” is a cliche for a good reason. Many job vacancies are filled each year through word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals, and graduate roles are no exception.

If you know someone – whether in real life or through social media – who works for a company or industry you're interested in, connect with them and let them know you’d love to hear about any opportunities in your field. This isn’t the time for a hard sell of your skills and experience, but rather a chance to open the lines of communication so they’ll keep you in mind if anything relevant pops up.

5. Attend careers fairs

Career fairs are a fantastic opportunity to not only grow your professional network but also find out more about companies you’re interested in.

Most fairs and expos will have representatives from different companies who can talk you through the types of graduate roles available at their workplace, as well as things like how to apply for a graduate program with them.

Can't find a graduate job? Preparing to start your post-grad job search? Whatever stage you’re at, Michael Page can help connect you with relevant opportunities in your field. Browse open graduate jobs and submit your resume.

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