The Graduate Job Search Guide What should I choose as my first job? The job market is a wide world of opportunities and challenges, ready and waiting for you to make your mark. The first thing is work out what you would like to do, based on your interests and skills. Don't worry that you are committing yourself for life when you take a job. Those days are long gone. Always keep an open mind and look for potential career development opportunities. To make a good career choice, you need: clear understanding of yourself (your skills, hopes, ambitions, personality and limitations) and a good understanding of the range of career routes available Everyone needs to start somewhere, so don't expect to walk straight into a management role, no matter how good your qualifications, be prepared to work your way up the ladder. Work experience and temping are great ways to get your foot in the door. Work placements are respected by potential employers as they prove that you've got initiative. Placements can often turn into full time jobs, so make the most of the opportunity to impress. Even if your contract isn't extended, they may remember you when a full-time position becomes available in the future. www.monster.ie There are various things that differentiate employers, and not just the industry they operate in. Number of employees, office culture, ownership and staff development are all key areas you should look into when deciding your ideal employer. When you're searching through job adverts, measure each against these points to give you an idea of what the company is like: Style - Who wrote the material and why? View this as the organisational equivalent of a CV. Does it capture your attention or come across as dull? Depth - How much detail are you being given? Do they mention specific goals you would be working towards or just give you an overall view of your responsibilities? Omissions - Is there anything about the company they don't tell you? Use the Internet to find out all you can about the organisation. Frequency - Regular jobs adverts from the same company often suggest high rates of staff turnover which could be a sign that it's one to avoid. Keep your eyes open as you search for new jobs and never miss an opportunity to chat to friends and colleagues about possible openings. You never know what might turn up. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide How can I choose the right company? There's a vast range of potential employers out there, from small start-ups to the biggest multinationals. Which type best suits you is for you to decide, based on your personality, your likes and dislikes and, of course, your experience. Get on your favourite search engine and check out terms like ‘FTSE 100' for the big boys or ‘best employers' for lists of companies with the top working conditions. Small companies - Due to their smaller revenues and profits, pay and benefits are often lower in smaller companies. On the other hand, you'll almost certainly have more involvement in a wider range of tasks than in a bigger company, along with the chance of quick promotion if you prove yourself. Medium sized companies - You can expect to receive better benefits than in a small company, such as health care or a contributory pension. But they can be very demanding of employees, with a high expectation for every employee. Large companies - The biggest plus with a large company is usually security and benefits, together with ample opportunity to move your career in the direction you want. Starting wages are usually generous, although pay structures are often quite strict.. www.monster.ie Alongside these groups, charities and public sector organisations also operate, again with their own pros and cons. One thing you will find when working for this type of business is that every penny spent must be justified, as they are ultimately accountable to charitable donations or the taxpayer. There are good places to work and there are awful places to work. Big companies with sexy offices can act as a smokescreen for a ferociously competitive business that you might find intimidating. Never be afraid to follow your instincts if a company doesn't feel right. You'll have to live with your decision if you get it wrong, so learn to read the warning signs. Watch how your interviewers behave during your meeting – they might be giving signs of things to come. If you're willing to cast your net wide in the search for the right employer, you may come across the perfect match. Relocating for work is a big decision for anyone, but if you value your career and want to make the most of every opportunity, then it may be a necessary step. Further Reading - What do I need to know about job adverts? - Should I work part-time, temporary or permanent? - Where can I find hidden vacancies? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide How can I work out my value in the job market? Different jobs and industries have vastly different pay scales. As you work out your real worth in the job you are in now or hope to move into, do everything you can to research the market. Understanding the relationship Just like many areas of business, employment is a deal done on the basis of supply and demand. The workers with the skills and experience influence supply in the job market, how rare you and your skills are and how much your employer needs you is the fundamental basis for calculating your worth in salary and benefits. The Internet is a priceless tool for salary research. Using an online salary calculator will give you a rough idea of what you can expect in your particular role, industry and location. Search through various job descriptions to benchmark your role against. It will give you a good idea of the key attributes companies are looking for in certain jobs, which means you can emphasise these in your CV to make yourself a more attractive prospect. Using your findings If you're approaching your boss for a pay increase in your current role, you can expect some scepticism when you present your results, so be ready to back them up with specific examples. www.monster.ie There may be things you are doing that your boss is not actively aware of, such as working unpaid overtime at home or skills you have developed, which are a real benefit to the business. All these can be used as extra leverage when you get down to the actual numbers. If you're discussing the possible salary for a new job, your potential employer will usually have a salary range in mind set by their management team. Consider the offer and match it up with your research to see if it's fair. Budget constraints operate in every business and it's impossible to accommodate every pay demand from every employee. If money really does end up as a stumbling block, consider using transferable skills to move into a more profitable and high-paying industry or job. Choosing the right company to work for is an important decision at every step of your career, and if one doesn't appreciate your value in the market, there will be another out there that does. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide What are the basic elements of a CV? Your CV is a document that shows employers you're the ideal candidate to invest their time and money in. Essentially it's a sales brochure, pinpointing your USPs (unique selling points). There's no universally accepted format, but your CV should cover these elements: Your details - Include your name, address, phone numbers and email address. Find out more. . Personal statement - One paragraph that immediately captures the attention of your reader and entices them to find out more about you. Be careful not to cram too much in. Find out more. Work experience - List your most recent position first, continuing in reverse chronological order including the name, location, website and dates of your employment for each company you have worked for. Use bullet points wherever possible. Find out more. Education - Again, in reverse chronological order, give brief details of your academic and professional qualifications along with the grades you achieved. Find out more. www.monster.ie Skills - Whether you realise it or not you will have picked up many skills over the years, some tangible, some less so. Include every IT package or programme you have used as well as any foreign language skills you have gained. Find out more. Hobbies and interests - Including these are optional the idea is to give the interviewer a more rounded picture of you. Find out more. References - It's not necessary to list referees on your CV, but you should state that details are available on request. Find out more. Always keep your CV to two pages of A4. As you write your CV, put yourself in the reader’s shoes, Keep it short, to the point and, above all else, interesting. There are plenty of simple mistakes that are often overlooked that will turn your readers off. Avoid using images, long paragraphs, odd typefaces and very small font sizes. And finally, check for spelling or typographical errors and before you distribute your finished document get someone to look over it for a second opinion. Further Reading - How do I include my gap year on my CV? - What are the classic CV mistakes to avoid? - How can I make my CV more effective? - What are the alternative CV options? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide How do I prepare for a job interview? Fail to plan and you, plan to fail. At your job interview you’re certain to be asked specific questions about your CV, your potential employer and the industry, so make sure you’ve done your homework. The company’s website is the best place to start. It shows the company as it would like to be seen and the products and services they offer. You’ll get a feel for the corporate style, culture and tone of voice. Check out the annual report and look for a press or company news page. Nothing is as disappointing as when a candidate oozes enthusiasm and then doesn’t even know the most basic facts and figures about a company such as last year’s profits. It’s not just information about the company you need – you should also have a good background knowledge of the industry so you can impress at the interview. Browse through business publications and websites to see what they are writing about your potential employer and their industry. Sit down with your CV and make notes, just as if you were preparing for an exam. Study your work record and what you have achieved. How do you see yourself? What have you done? What ambitions do you have? www.monster.ie You want to feel confident that you can field any question they throw at you, and try to feel as good about yourself as you can. It shines through. You might also like to take note of these tips: Have a mock interview with a friend based on the interview questions you’re likely to face. Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and the name of interviewers. Decide how you will get there and when you need to set off to arrive in good time, anticipating any delays. Do a dummy run if necessary. Don’t go into the interview with lots of baggage - psychological or physical. If you are asked to bring certificates, references, etc, get them ready well in advance to avoid having to chase around on the morning of the big day. Make sure you use the toilet before you go in – you don’t want to be bursting to go when you’re mid-interview. Further Reading - How will a second job interview differ from the first? - What should I take to my job interview? - How can I calm my job interview nerves? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide How do I know which job offer to accept? After several applications and a series of interviews, your job search is finally over and you have two firm job offers on the table. Now all you have to do is decide which offer to accept. Each offer is weighted with positives in certain areas and there are several factors that need to be considered. But, the question remains, how do you decide? Here are some things you need to contemplate before accepting or declining an offer. Salary and benefits If salary is a determining factor for you, ask yourself if you have been offered a salary commensurate with your skills and experience? Which company offers a higher earning potential? Does Company A offer a lower basic than Company B yet have a better benefits package? If performance related bonuses are a large part of the salaries being offered, try and find out how achievable they are. Is the basic enough if you don’t reach targets? Company location Will you have to relocate for either job? If so, what impact will this have on your family? How much longer will it take to get to your new office? Commuting to work for an hour is one thing but, making the trip twice a day, five days a week on a notoriously unreliable train line quickly loses its appeal. And, don’t dismiss the cost implications on having to travel further each day. www.monster.ie Company size and reputation If you are just starting out in your chosen field, working for a large blue-chip organisation will add credibility to your CV. But, there is the danger that you will just be a small cog in a large corporate wheel. Will you be challenged, have the opportunity to express yourself and apply your skills and experiences? Or would you be more stimulated working for a smaller company that gives you greater freedom? Opportunities for career progression Most of us change our jobs because we need a fresh challenge and the opportunity to learn new skills and progress our careers. Look at the options that each employer offers for advancement and training. Work out where in the organisational structure your role will sit and what the scope is to move onwards and upwards. Your manager Do you think that you could have a good working relationship with your boss? This relationship is vitally important because it will determine whether your time with your new employer is an enjoyable period or not. How did they come across in the interview? By the end of the second stage of the interview you should have an idea of whether you‘d get on with them so work out which boss you’ll be most comfortable with Put it on paper Draw up two columns with the two company names at the top and the attributes that matter to you down the side. Give each company a score out of ten for each aspect and total it up at the bottom. Whoever gets the best score wins the race for your services. If after all that you still can’t decide, trust your instincts - most of the time, they are right. ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide How should I approach day one in my new job? It took you a lot of effort to get there, so make the most of it and enjoy your new working environment. Remember the qualities that got you the job in the first place. It's OK to be a little nervous and on your guard at first. You'll have plenty of time to relax into your new role in the weeks to come. Be courteous This should be a basic attribute anyway, but make sure you don't accidentally rub anyone up the wrong way on your first day. Everyone you encounter, from the receptionist right up to the big boss, should receive the same impression of you – polite and respectful. Feel free to ask advice. Don't stand there shuffling your feet if you don't know where to go or what to do. It may make you appear nervous or standoffish, and you don't need to start erecting possible barriers on day one. Go with the flow Even if you're already experienced in your role, don't assume you can simply do what you did before in the same way. While there are probably plenty of skills you can transfer, every workplace has its own way of operating. www.monster.ie Join in any coffee breaks or anything that gives you a chance to get to know your new colleagues on a more personal level. They will be able help you to understand the unwritten rules of the workplace. Be positive Never talk your last job or company down, and be discreet in what you say about former employers. Even big industries can be small places, and your new colleagues may know or even be related to some of your old workmates. Take a second before you commit to saying anything; consider your responses and actions. It's better to be tagged as cautious and thoughtful rather than rash and impulsive. Show willing Be the one who volunteers for something, like changing the bottle on the water cooler or doing a coffee run. Be the last to lunch in the early days, the first back, and one of the last out of the door at night. Show your new colleagues that you're committed and mean business but also looking to integrate yourself as one of the team. Further Reading - What are the unwritten rules of the workplace? - How do I handle office politics? - How do I integrate myself into a new team? - What should I expect at my probation review? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide How can I create a working wardrobe? You’ve graduated, found your first job, but now comes the next difficult stage - what should you wear? If you work in a formal office environment where suits are a must you needn’t worry about having a vast wardrobe of clothes to be well dressed for work. By developing a ‘capsule’ wardrobe of basic pieces that you can mix and match, you can have a variety of options. Capsule wardrobe for the guys As a minimum you will need two to three suits, preferably a navy, a charcoal, and another dark neutral. If your office allows ‘business casual’ then three jacket-and-trouser combinations will be fine. Five work shirts, one for each day of the week. Button cuffs are fine, but do make sure that the collar fits. If in doubt go for the next size up, as you don’t want to feel strangled. A selection of five ties, in colours that complement your shirts will complete your look. As the winter hits you’ll need to invest in an outer coat, this doesn’t need to be full length but should be longer than your suit jacket. When shopping for your coat, remember that it will need to be large enough to fit comfortably over your suit jacket. www.monster.ie Shoes and belts are the finishing touches to your working wardrobe. To see you through your first year you’ll need two or three pairs of leather shoes This may seem a lot but shoes will last longer if you allow them to breathe between wears. Don’t forget to polish them regularly and have them re-soled and re-heeled when necessary. Capsule wardrobe for the girls A suit will form the basis of your formal working wardrobe. To start with you’ll find that four suits, in complementary neutral colours, or a combination of four jackets and four skirts or pairs of trousers will give you plenty of options A selection of colourful tops, providing they are in a palette that suits you is a great way of introducing colour into your wardrobe. In order to cope with British weather you’ll need to invest in an overcoat or raincoat. To go with your capsule wardrobe, you’ll need three pairs of shoes that tone with your suits and that are in line with current trends. It’s important to make sure that they are appropriate to the season too. One last rule, showing too much flesh isn’t appropriate in a business or formal environment. Further Reading - How can I use colour in my working wardrobe? - What should I wear to work during Winter? - What should I wear to work during Summer? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide Is it too late to turn down a job after starting? Has your dream job become the job from hell? Sometimes what may seem like a great job can easily turn sour and your expectations of what the role would be like doesn't match the reality. You are not alone - many workers regret taking a new position within the first few weeks of their tenure. So what can you do about it and how can you avoid the same problem from happening again? The first thing you need to do is to figure out what has gone wrong. The most common reasons why new role do not work out are: The responsibilities differ from what you initially perceived You don't get along with your new boss or a new colleagues The job you were hired to do is not the one you ended up with If it's a situation you can't see turning itself around, the question is what should you do now? It is human nature to have second thoughts and doubts within the first few weeks or months of starting a new job. However, if the feelings haven't changed after you have discussed your concerns with your boss, then it may be time to jump ship and look for another job. www.monster.ie Leave before its too late - There is nothing to gain by staying in a position you regret taking, but there is a lot to lose in the long term. The longer you remain in your job, the less motivated, less effective and less productive you will become, which could tarnish your reputation and damage future career prospects. Self-analysis - Before you hand in your notice and start applying for a new job, take stock of your position and do some in-depth soul-searching, after all you don't want to repeat the mistake. Why did you leave your last job? Did you want a new challenge? Do you want new skills or to change career? Explaining it away - If the hopes and aspirations that you held for your new job have been dashed, don't dismay. The fact that you were prepared to make the change will demonstrate to future employers that you are someone who strives to develop your career, to learn new experiences and to use your new found knowledge to greater effect in whatever role you perform. Further Reading - How can I stay happy at work? - How do I resign from my job? - What should I include in my resignation letter? - How can I leave my job graciously? ‘Grass is Greener’ eBooks The Graduate Job Search Guide They say that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, but often it is. Our series of eBooks brings together expert advice to help you secure the job you want and build a successful career. For more career tools, visit career-advice.monster.ie.