If you’re applying for jobs as a student or graduate, there are a number of mistakes that the majority of job applicants will make in their application (including myself when applying for roles in my student days). Hence, I’ve decided to list some of these from my perspective as an employer (please note that I am neither an employment expert or guru and this is purely my personal intake on the subject).

Applying for jobs a student or graduate can be tricky. This is because there is a lot to think about when sending applications and because you may be new to the employment world. Read these tips to make a better impression with student or graduate jobs:

1) Stop talking about YOU (too much)

Unfortunately this is a mistake that a considerable number of job applicants make. This does not only stem from the lack of familiarity with job applications, but it’s also a result of the wrong advice that people receive.

The common belief is that “you have to sell yourself” to your potential employer and therefore the assumption is that the entire application should be about you. With this approach, job applicants list every single detail/skill in their past experience. Unsurprisingly, most of these details are irrelevant and only bore the person reading your application.

An employer wants to see how capable you are in relation to the role that you are applying for. Thus, it’s key to contextualise your skillset in relation to the job that you applied for.

Therefore, a better approach is to talk more about the company to: A) show your familiarity with the firm and B) demonstrate your interest (this is crucial).

2) Avoid clichés when it comes to your skills

Let me guess: you have “great attention to detail”, “excel at working under pressure”, “can meet tight deadlines”; and of course, you have “great communication skills”.

The issue with the example phrases above is that they are overused. Many people are able to demonstrate these (or at least some) through their past experience, whether that’s professional or academic experience. Thus, this hardly makes these phrases/skills unique on their own.

Those in charge of recruitment come across these “skills” everyday. Therefore, simply stating them is unlikely to differentiate you from other candidates.

This is not to say that you should not talk about your skillset at all. Instead, try to make them targeted to the role’s duties and not the person requirements. Show the employer how you will perform the job’s duties and how your skillset derived from you past experience helps you to do so.

3) Be critical: find a problem/improvement area in the company you are applying for (especially when applying to SMEs)

This is something that I personally haven’t seen much as an employer. What I mean by finding a problem in the company is finding an area where the company could improve and perform better. Even better is doing this in the context of the role you are applying for. Let’s look at the hypothetical example scenario below:

Advertised Job: Social Media Executive

Candidate 1: ” I am extremely skilled at managing social media platforms and creating engaging content. In my last role, I was responsible for managing all social media platforms.”

Candidate 2: “I checked the company’s social media platforms. Whilst the content is engaging, I believe the company could improve a lot more in this area but differentiating its content through using more blog articles. In my previous role, I found this to be effective as I was responsible for managing social media platforms.

It goes without saying that Candidate 2 would be a much preferred choice for a recruiter. This is because the applicant:

  • Shows their familiarity with and interest in the company
  • Demonstrates how their past experience makes them suitable for the role

  • Has critical skills. It’s important for any reasonable and responsible company to consist of team members who have critical-thinking abilities and therefore contribute to the continuous improvement of the company. Any company that does not adopt this approach and does not welcome critical-thinking, should not (in my opinion) be considered by a job applicant. This is also due to the fact you are investing a valuable asset when taking on a new job: time. Therefore, it’s important that you spend your time in a job that not only helps you contribute to the company but also gives you the opportunity to develop as a person.

When you find the University of your dreams, you’ll need to book student accommodation. Get in touch with us and we can help you find your new home.

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