Updated 11 November 2022
As a graduate or a student in your penultimate year, you can’t be expected to know everything there is to know about applying for your first graduate job - and that's ok! In this article, we outline 5 common mistakes graduates can make when applying for their first role - so you know what to look out for during your own job search.
1. Not applying to enough opportunities
Narrowing down preferences and losing great work opportunities is a common mistake to make during the graduate job search. Whether you're being too selective with your preferences or self-eliminating because you don't think you meet the requirements, it's important to keep an open mind when it comes to choosing which roles to apply for. Remember, it doesn't hurt to throw your hat in the ring - you never know what the outcome might be if you just give it a go and hit submit on that application!
2. Not having clear communication
Having good etiquette and communication skills with the recruiter makes a big difference when it comes to the job search. Now is not the time for abbreviations or casual slang, keep it polite and professional with whoever you come across during the recruitment process - you never know who could end up as your future employer! It's also important to be clear in your communication with employers - be assertive and confident when expressing your background and career goals during interviews to give yourself the best shot at making a lasting impression.
3. Submitting generic applications
Don't skip out on personalising your cover letters or uploading them altogether! Having a great cover letter can be the secret sauce to standing out to a recruiter during the application process. From addressing your cover letter to the correct company, to outlining how your personal values align with the different values of each employer, being specific in both your cover letter and CV can be one of the most effective ways to catch a recruiter's attention. Read more on how to craft an eye-catching cover letter here and the perfect resume/CV here.
4. Taking no response as a 'no'
According to the 2022 AAGE Employer Survey, graduate recruiters recieve on average, 2,378 applications per employer. In a career space that is highly competitive, don't be disheartened if you don't hear back from an employer - sometimes the candidate selection process can take months!
If you're waiting on a response after an interview, it's a good rule of thumb to send a thank-you email within a day as an expression of gratitude for the interviewer's time, then send a follow-up 1-2 weeks later where you can ask for an update on your application status. If the outcome really is a 'no,' don't be afraid to also ask for feedback on why you might not have gotten the job - this will be incredibly valuable for your next interview and more often than not the recruiter is happy to help!
5. Not enough networking
Start building your network as early as you can! Staying in contact with people you come across in your professional life can be invaluable in getting your foot in the door for opportunities down the road in your career. Some good ways to start creating your network include going to conferences, industry events and careers fairs. See our guide on the right way to reach out to recruiters here.