The sense of achievement in finishing a degree can often be overshadowed by not knowing what comes next. Often graduates are not successful in their application without understanding why.
The relief and sense of achievement that comes with finishing a degree can often be overshadowed by not knowing what comes next.
Tiffany Svenson, Recruitment Consultant for Bayside Group, works closely with APESMA student members. She says that often graduates are not successful in their application without understanding why.
“It is really important to understand the recruitment process and what employers are actually looking for,” says Tiffany.
So what are employers really looking for?
Employers will look for a range of competencies and attributes, including:
- Industry experience (e.g. internships, casual employment)
- Technical knowledge (e.g. ability to understand what you learnt in your degree)
- Soft skills (e.g. communication, organisational skills, rapport building)
- Personality (e.g. your attitude, level of motivation, self-awareness)
- Organisational culture fit (e.g. how you align with the organisation's values)
This list can be intimidating, particularly if you don't have any industry experience. But it is important to remember that many graduates are starting out, and employers often look for people with the right foundations to make great employees long term.
How can you stand out?
The simplest way to stand out is to focus on your strengths; be clear about what they are and write down examples, whether personal, professional, complex or simple. Tiffany vividly remembers a candidate who spoke about maintaining a spreadsheet of every Christmas present bought for family and friends since 1998. “This type of answer when discussed with a sense of humour is memorable, and shows strong organisation skills and attention to detail,” Tiffany says. However, it is important that strengths address the criteria for the role. If you are unsure about the criteria, ask during the application or interview confirmation process, so you can prepare prior to interview.
Alignment with an organisation's values is increasingly important to employers in recruitment and selection. Tiffany says it is common to ask a graduate what subject they enjoyed most at university, yet very few will answer with animation. If an employer value is passion or drive, this provides the ideal opportunity for you to demonstrate it.
If you are receiving ongoing feedback about your inexperience, volunteer for internships or apply for temporary positions that will enable you to gain industry experience while you are searching for something more permanent. You never know where it may lead! Alternatively, you can read industry journals to gain additional knowledge about the industry you want to work in, which demonstrates a willingness to learn.
For application, resume or interview tips, visit www.techstaff.com.au if you are a science graduate, or www.baysidepersonnel.com.au if you are an engineer graduate. Bayside's APESMA team can be contacted on 1300 853 303.