As the latest survey shows the job market is tougher than ever, Richard Garner offers this year’s university leavers top tips to boost their chances of employment
1. Arrange work experience or internships while at university. If you have not done so and are in your final year at university, your best option may very well be to opt for an internship or work experience on leaving, as more than one in three of the jobs on offer this summer is likely to go to those who have previous experience with the firm to which they are applying.
2. Ensure any gap-year experiences, such as working for a charity – particularly if you have been abroad during that time – are chronicled in your CV. It shows evidence of an enterprising spirit.
3. Research the company or employer you are seeking a job with before the interview. Make sure you know exactly what it is, what it does, its ethos and its history. Interviewers will not be impressed if you do not know this basic information.
4. Memorise any skills you may have that are relevant to the job. You should perhaps write them down as an aide-memoire but do not bring it out during the interview. Rely on your memory.
5. Prepare the night before by ensuring your clothes are neatly ironed and pressed and smart. Depending on the ethos of the company, you should be dressed in smart-casual clothes or more formal attire. With banking and
soliciting, a suit for men will be necessary. Smart trouser suit or outfit for women. Men should be clean-shaven.
6. Think of questions to ask them – there is nothing worse than saying “no” if they ask you whether there is anything you want to know at the end of the interview. Prepare a stock of questions. Some of the answers may crop up during the interview process and you need to have one or two up your sleeve to be able to cope with every eventuality.
7. Take a drink of water just before the interview to avoid “dry-mouth syndrome”. Make sure you have had something to eat before the interview – to avoid rumbling-tummy syndrome.
8. Smile when you enter the room and ensure your posture is upright. Slouching will leave a very bad impression.
9. If you are offered a hand to shake, shake it firmly as a sign of confidence and composure. Also, do not sit down until invited to do so. It could be seen as casual or insolent behaviour. If you normally fidget, try to put your hands in front of you and rest them on the desk in front of you.
10. Oh, and do mention that first you got from Oxford in your CV and if asked to talk about your qualifications. It may be the case that the number of firsts awarded has tripled in the past two decades and that it will not be your guarantee of getting a job. It will, however, be a guarantee of your not getting the job if you fail to remind the interviewer of how well you have done at university.