How to Stand Out in Your Graduate Job Search

You’ve made it through university, graduated, and now it’s time to get on the job-searching front. But, there’s one problem: there are so many other graduates in your position, so how are you going to stand out? There’s no need to worry, because we’ve put together a few tips to help you land that grad job.


How do you get noticed?

Before you can think about interview preparation, you have to land the interview. With the job market so saturated, the competition to get noticed has skyrocketed. For you to stand out as the best candidate for the job, it’s about more than having the relevant experience – it’s understanding what makes a winner in the competition for landing the job.

For most job applications, you will be asked to submit a CV, so let’s get started with making sure your CV is polished and up to scratch. The recruiter of the job you applied for is more than likely going to spend around 10 seconds looking at your CV, so we need to make sure it’s captivating, informative, and most importantly that it will get you noticed.

Focusing on your accomplishments is what will make you stand out, think about things such as academic achievements, extra-curricular activities, volunteering, university teams etc. Forget listing day-to-day activities, because remember: any other graduate applying to this job role will be writing the exact same thing. Showing the recruiter what you’ve achieved throughout your university journey is what will really make you stand out and make your CV unique.

Many job-searchers are afraid of being a little too boastful, but the fact is that you need to show them exactly why you’ll be the best hire, and modesty won’t achieve that. It’s your chance to show off your skills and accomplishments, so do it. It’s also a good idea to include any stats or figures from your achievements, because these will stand out on the page and will impress the recruiter.

Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, it’s always good to tailor your CV accordingly. If you’re applying for a creative job, then words on paper don’t exactly scream ‘creativity’ do they? Think about mixing it up with a video CV, infographics, images, magazines, portfolios, etc. There was once a job searcher who applied by sending their phone with their CV integrated within the phone’s apps, and of course they got the interview (and their phone back).


Get yourself out there!

As much of a surprise as it may seem, not everything job-hunt-related is conducted via the internet. We’ll let you in on a little secret to securing that job: networking. That’s right, getting yourself out there and meeting your potential future recruiters and hopefully employers face-to-face.

Expanding your professional network allows you to meet people in your specific industry from all business levels, and this could provide dividends when you come to apply for jobs at their companies. Many companies recruit from within and from employee referrals, so if you’re on their radar then your chances of getting a LinkedIn message are definitely high.

You can find out about networking events via LinkedIn, at university events, and even simply by having a quick Google search. Remember, networking is all about making contacts and connections, not to relay your CV in person. If you can come across as likeable and can hold your own in conversation, the right people will remember you.


What does your online profile say?

When applying for a job, most people now take a little peek at the company online. Well, recruiters do the same to you. With this in mind, it’s vital that your online presence is professional and reflects your passion for your industry, but it’s also vital that it represents you as a person who has interests outside of work.

A great way to show your commitment to your chosen industry is by creating a blog. And not just any blog about your day-to-day life – a blog that shows your opinions on certain trending topics and news stories. If you’re not one for upholding a regularly maintained blog, then think about using LinkedIn articles to publish your thoughts on industry news.

Think about the different social media channels you’re active on too. If your Twitter is filled with endless GIFs and the latest updates on whatever reality show is out at the minute, it doesn’t paint your online professionalism in the best of lights. The odd post about those sorts of things is fine – because you are of course allowed to have interests outside of work – but if you’ve turbo-tweeted 30 or 40 times a row on the same subject, or if you’ve aggressively argued with strangers who have different opinions to you, it may make employers think twice.

Back to the job-hunting part of social media: updating your latest tweet or status with buzzwords and key information related to your job role will definitely jump out at recruiters.


First impressions do count!

You did it, you got the interview. Now, let’s land you that job.

Before we think about what to say, how to sit, do you shake hands or not (always shake hands), we need to address the enigma around first impressions: they are key. Chances are that anyone you come in contact with during the interview will have a say on their thoughts of you – so aim to impress everyone. Always be polite and welcoming to those at your interview, whether it’s the person who opens the door, takes you to the office, or even offers you a glass of water.

The worst thing you can do before an interview is not research who and what the company is. You don’t want to walk into the interview oozing ignorance because you forgot to research the company and find out about their achievements and business aims.

The more you know about the business, the more you can refer to in your interview, and the more impressed your interviewer will be. We don’t mean memorising their mission statement, or remembering the timeline of their company’s history. Talking about a specific event or a certain piece of work that the company has produced is always good to refer to, and is a great talking point on how your work could expand on this.


It’s normal to be nervous

Don’t worry about the butterflies fluttering around your stomach, it’s completely normal to feel nervous about your interview.

If you’ve done your interview research then you have nothing to worry about. It’s important to remember that if you get stuck on an interview question, all you have to do is take a pause and a deep breath, and have a drink of water whilst you get your answer prepared.

Many job-searchers have pre-rehearsed answers to everything, and often forget the most important factor: examples. In every question you answer, try to incorporate specific examples. For instance, if they ask if you’re a team player, give them examples of when you have applied your teamwork approach. This will help to differentiate you from your fellow candidates.

They will ask if you have any questions for them, and it’s always good to ask questions back. Find out a little more about their company, their workplace, and if they offer any personal development opportunities. A future employee knowing what they want isn’t a bad thing – it shows you are driven, determined, and more often than not the right person for the job.


The competition in the job market is always going to be fierce, and it’s key not to get disheartened by any knock-backs. Keep using the tips above to make yourself stand out, and hopefully you’ll land the job you want sooner or later.


Author Bio: The Student Housing Company provides vibrant and modern private student accommodation across the UK.


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