The job outcomes for university graduates are many and varied. The labour market is significantly changing as new technologies are introduced and businesses are finding new ways of working.
James Cook University graduates are working locally, nationally, and internationally in a variety of industries, occupations, and positions. Graduates may choose to apply for specialist graduate positions, general ‘entry level’ positions, graduate programs, or establishing their own business or other entrepreneurial venture. Graduates may be:
- employed full time, part time, or casually for a fixed term or ongoing contract
- an employee with a small, medium, or large organisation, a startup, an NGO (non-governmental non-profit organisation), or social enterprise or
- self-employed, in a managerial position, freelancing, working as a consultant, or combining a number of these streams of income, as part of their portfolio career.
Specialist graduate positions
Specialist graduate positions require knowledge and specific technical or professional skills gained from a particular degree or degrees. Often these degrees are authorised by an accrediting body, which reviews the course curriculum to ensure graduates meet entry-level professional requirements. Many students will pursue an entry level graduate position that relates directly to their degree (Civil Engineer, Teacher, Pharmacist, Veterinarian or Physiotherapist), while other students will decide to utilise the range of skills they have gained in a broader career context.
General ‘entry level’ positions
Many graduates will secure positions that are not clearly defined as a graduate job, or do not require a specific degree. These positions may be referred to as entry level and require minimal professional work experience. General ‘entry level’ positions can be performed by graduates from a number of degrees and require highly developed skill sets which may be technical (geographic information systems) or more general (high-level written communication or analytic skills). Your university studies provide evidence of development in these required areas. General entry level positions might include a Child Protection Practitioner, Business Analyst, or Natural Resources Officer.
Many graduates do not know what they wish to specialise in. Therefore, they will either refine their specialisation focus throughout their career, or will choose to remain in generalist positions and develop a variety of skills in order to pursue multiple opportunities over the course of their working lives.
Graduates may choose to apply for a clearly defined graduate program, which are mainly offered by larger organisations or government departments. Graduate programs offer structured professional development to new or recently graduated university students. The positions are designed to broaden your industry experience and advance you to more senior levels within the organisation. Graduate programs are different to a standard graduate position. While both enable you to work in your chosen industry, a graduate program will generally provide you with increased support, training, and mentoring.
Graduates are generally recruited early in their final year of study for commencement of employment in the following year. The programs may accept graduates who completed their studies anywhere within the last five years, but completion within the last two years is the most common requirement. Graduate programs tend to provide rotations through different work areas, are one to two years in length, and are mostly based in capital cities.
Benefits to graduates include:
- Personal and professional development opportunities
- Tailored mentoring support
- Supportive environment
- Opportunities to work in a number of different roles
- Industry specific, on-the-job training.
Research by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) shows that most graduates choose to continue working for organisations after completion of their graduate program, and many will build long-term careers with this first graduate employer.
For further information on graduate program opportunities, please see:
- Graduate recruitment directories: JCU Career Directory, GradAustralia and GradConnection
- Australian and state government graduate portals: APS Graduate Programs, Queensland Government Greater Graduate Program and Recruitment
- Careers sections within employer websites
- JCU Career Snapshots
Your own enterprise
Many graduates will initially look to work for an employer or organisation to gain experience and develop skills, but other graduates will choose to become contractors, consultants, or pursue their own business ideas from the start.
The Australian and State governments have a number of grants, programs, and other forms of support to help businesses to innovate, compete, and grow, such as:
- Australian Government New Business Assistance
- Australian Government Entrepreneurs’ Programme
- QLD Government Starting a Business
- Social Enterprise Grants Program
- Social Enterprise Network for the Tropics
- JCU Starting a Business Information Sheet
JCU Alumni career paths
If you are unsure of where your degree can lead, the James Cook University LinkedIn Alumni page will help you explore the wide range of opportunities that JCU graduates have pursued. This page provides information on the career paths of over 45,000 JCU graduates who are registered on LinkedIn. You can identify graduates with your degree, major or skill set, and learn about the career paths they have taken since gaining their university qualifications. You can further narrow your search to find alumni in specific locations, companies, or occupations.
Manage Your Graduate Job Search
Graduate job searching involves you identifying your career preferences, researching career options, utilising a variety of job search strategies, and becoming skilled in the job application process. A strategic, focused approach to your job search will help you manage the process, while minimising any impact on your university studies and other life priorities. Having a goal and a plan will help you focus your efforts on job applications that support your career orientation.
Set your goals
Most of you will have preferences about the type of work you’d like to do, the kinds of people you’d like to be working with, the types of organisation you want to be affiliated with, and the geographical location of your work. If you are studying a degree, such as Nursing, Education, Dentistry, or Engineering, you will have a reasonably clear idea about the expected occupational outcomes of your course and can work towards these.
Conversely, other degrees may equip you with a versatile skill set rather than a professional title, so the onus will be on you to figure out how you want to use it (in what setting and for what purpose). Gaining clarity about your career goals and how to achieve them is not something that you can leave until you have finished your course – the earlier you start, the better.
Identify your priorities and preferences
Knowing your personality, interests, values, and skills will help you identify the jobs and employers best suited to your career goals and how to play to your strengths.
Action: Go to your downloaded workbook and complete Activity 1.
If you would like to further explore your priorities and preferences, complete the You and Your Career module.
Identify jobs and employers to pursue
Research your opportunities and identify employers and positions of interest. If you are not clear on the job possibilities for your degree, check online job boards and identify opportunities by searching your degree qualification, areas of interest, or skills. Read the job descriptions to identify the roles that meet your interests, skills, and background, and save them for future reference.
Be open to job opportunities that may not exactly align with your preferences but offer experience and skill development, which may lead you closer to your preferred employment outcome.
Once you have an idea of the scope of job possibilities, then start to focus your search on job options which fit what you know about yourself and your career goals. Look for career opportunities that you are excited by and do not lose sight of your career hopes and ambitions.
Develop and implement a plan
Most successful job seekers develop a plan and follow it, and as the saying goes – ‘Those who fail to plan, plan to fail’.
Start early … remember that this is an investment in your career!
Check recruitment timelines as employers recruit at differing times. Many organisations recruit students during their final year of study (from as early as March) for commencement of employment in the following year. Graduate positions and entry level positions can arise at any time, though some industries will have regular recruitment seasons. A range of online resources exist to consolidate this information for you, such as JCU Career Directory, GradAustralia and GradConnection. If you are looking for work internationally, check recruitment timelines for countries of interest as international timelines tend to be quite different. It is best to have recruitment timelines figured out in your penultimate (second last) year of your degree to ensure you do not miss any opportunities.
Commit time to your job search. Set aside specific times or block times in your calendar to devote to your job search. Think about setting up a monthly/semester planner.
Break your job search into small, manageable tasks to manage your time more efficiently and maintain motivation. For example:
- Identify graduate jobs you are interested in
- Commence researching potential employers
- Update your resume to ensure it is current and professional
- Set up your SEEK profile
- Learn interview strategies
Keep track of all your job search activities including applications submitted, networking contacts, key job websites, and interviews. A recording system will be helpful in planning and managing your job search, particularly when you are applying for multiple jobs.
- Keep a record of dates, job titles, company names and websites, and contact names, as well as interview panelists, their position titles, and any feedback they provided.
- Save the job advertisements, job descriptions and your application responses for each job you apply for. This information will be essential when you receive that interview invitation down the track.
- Most importantly, write some short notes about all your job search experiences to reflect on key outcomes, learnings, and observations.
Many job seekers set up Excel or Word files to keep track of their activities. Alternatively, there are free online tools, such as Trello, to assist with managing your job search. Review your plan periodically to identify if you are on track or need to change strategy.
To view this video, login to LinkedIn Learning through the JCU website and then search for ‘Job Search Strategies’.
To view this video, login to LinkedIn Learning through the JCU website and then search for ‘Job Hunting for College Grads’.
Identify Opportunities Online
Employers are using a combination of methods to source candidates. Job vacancies are advertised through several online mediums, including employers’ websites and social media, university careers service sites, job boards, recruitment agency sites, graduate recruitment directories, and professional association and industry-specific sites. You need to be regularly exploring all mediums, so as not to miss an opportunity. Identify the online platforms best suited for your career goals.
Employer websites and social media
Many employers manage their recruitment internally, and their own website may be the only place they post an opportunity. Employers, both government and non-government, often host a ‘Careers’ section on their website providing detailed information on jobs available, the company’s values and priorities, details of the application process involved, recruitment timelines, and testimonials from past successful graduates.
Employers are also increasingly utilising social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) to promote their organisation and job opportunities, find and attract the ideal job candidate, and research job applicants (you). If you follow and subscribe to potential future employers’ social media, you will keep abreast of their job opportunities and current business activities, which will help with any future applications you submit. Identify how employers you are interested in are connecting with future employees, and then connect with them via those platforms. Employers will notice your engagement with their social media platforms.
Many employers and employment agencies will advertise job opportunities via online job vacancy sites – also known as job boards. Downloading job board apps will assist with easier access. It is important that you identify the job boards most relevant to your job preferences and regularly check them for any opportunities listed.
General job boards
Industry job boards
- To identify industry specific job boards relevant to your studies or career goals, do a web search for ‘[degree/ major/interest area] jobs Australia’ ie NRMjobs is a specialist industry site for jobs in environment, water, and natural resource management fields in Australia
- JCU Careers Snapshots provide further information on industry-specific job boards
JCU job board
- Remember to regularly check your JCU job board – JCU CareerHub, which lists graduate, course-relevant, part-time, and casual job opportunities currently available for JCU students and recent graduates. Ensure your profile settings are current and reflect the types of work you are currently looking for, so that your weekly e-newsletter reflects appropriate opportunities.
Effectively utilising job boards
Set up a profile
Identify your industry of interest and location of preference. You can customise your profile visibility settings to control the types of information that employers can see about you. When a recruiter or employer uploads a job ad, the job board will often send them a list of suitable candidates from their talent pool. Your aim is to be on that list.
Aim for your online profile to speak directly to the employers and positions you most wish to achieve. While it is good to be open to various job possibilities outside your target area, an online profile that attempts to speak to all jobs and employers will have far less impact and risk being overlooked by employers.
Use keywords in your profile
This will help you get noticed by employers. Seek has identified five top terms that employers use to search a candidate’s profile. These are:
- Job title – employers search for candidates with previous experience that matches their requirements, so ensure the titles of your previous jobs align with the most typical name used for that role e.g. Accountant.
- Skills – many employers are looking for specific skills (‘payroll’ or ‘java’), so ensure you complete the skills section and are clear on all skills you have developed.
- Industry – employers often use industry keywords when searching, so ensure you are specific about the industry/industries you wish to work in.
- Role preferences – employers want to know their role suits your preferences, so they will look for this in your profile information.
- Career level – ensure you are clear on the level of your previous experience, so employers can determine if you fit the level of the position. In your personal summary, ensure you include indicators such as ‘graduate’ or ‘manager’.
Upload your resume or complete online application details
Use job board sites where recruiters from your industry or interest area are searching for candidates. Posting your resume makes you searchable and accessible to recruiters. Ensure your resume is targeted to your desired graduate jobs. To increase efficiency, employers utilise keyword searches to shortlist suitable applicants. Your uploaded resume must contain keywords that match the skills, experience, and duties of the job you are seeking. Identify important skills sets and key words and include them in your resume.
Customise your job search and set up personal job alerts.
Most job boards allow you to search for jobs by keywords, occupation, location, employment type (full time, part time) and salary rate, and allow you to save your job searches. You will be sent targeted email notifications of new vacancies in areas that you have nominated. You will need to experiment to make sure the parameters of your search are not too narrow (you do not receive any emails) or too broad (you receive hundreds every day!). Regularly review your customisation to ensure you are receiving relevant job notifications.
Safeguard your privacy
Check the privacy policies of the job board platform to understand how they will use your information. Before you share any information with an employer, research them online to ensure they are legitimate.
Employers are entitled to ask you personal information that is relevant to your ability to perform the role you are applying for. This generally includes your name, email, phone number, employment experience, driver’s licence details, evidence that you can work in Australia, a police check, or working with children check. Employers cannot ask for information that discriminates against you or ask for invasive and irrelevant information, such as your bank details or credit card history. If they do, check why. If you have any concerns, be careful with what you share and ask how employers will protect this information.
LinkedIn is a professional database and social networking site that helps you connect with professionals and identify job opportunities. It is an important platform when looking for work and will help you find jobs suited to your skills and qualifications. LinkedIn is fast becoming a recruitment hunting ground for employers. As of June 2020, 30 million companies are on LinkedIn and over 100 million job applications are lodged each month through the platform. Employers are actively promoting their organisation, advertising job vacancies, and searching for staff on LinkedIn. A LinkedIn Mobile App is available to assist with ease of job search.
Set up a LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn enables you to build a professional online profile that reflects your skills, knowledge, and qualifications. Your profile is essentially an extended and richer version of your resume. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is well written and targets the jobs you are interested in. Your profile allows you to elaborate on your resume and provide more information on your work, volunteer, and study history. According to LinkedIn, over 75% of hiring managers look at LinkedIn profiles to learn more about a candidate’s background and 50% will decide whether to progress with a candidate’s application based on their LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Higher Education provides advice on how to maximise your LinkedIn profile.
It is important you showcase your skills, strengths, expertise, career interests, and goals relevant to your targeted graduate positions to ensure the right employers find you in their applicant searches. Use keywords and job titles in your profile that employers will use to search and identify suitable candidates.
LinkedIn email alerts
Check your ‘Job Seeking Preferences’ under the Settings and Privacy section of your profile and turn on the notifications that alert employers to the fact that you are actively seeking employment, and are open to being contacted. LinkedIn will help you connect to jobs that match your profile, and will use information in your profile to generate email alerts for new job postings that you may be interested in.
Job search via LinkedIn
You can search for jobs listed on LinkedIn using the Search field on the LinkedIn homepage or you can directly access them via the Jobs icon on the toolbar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage. On the Jobs page, you can search and apply for jobs by keywords, title, and location. You can further refine your search using the filters (date posted, company, experience level and more) on the Results page.
You can organise your job search through LinkedIn by saving jobs and job searches, tracking, and viewing jobs you have already applied for, and updating your job preferences. To ensure your privacy, no updates are shared with your LinkedIn networks when you are searching and applying for jobs on LinkedIn. When searching for jobs on LinkedIn, it is recommended you use Boolean modifiers to refine your search and find positions that are right for you.
Graduate recruitment directories
Graduate recruitment directories are key resources for Australian university students. They provide information on graduate employers, graduate programs, graduate jobs, internships, vacation programs, cadetships, scholarships, graduate salaries, application dates, plus industry advice and job search support. Sign up for their Facebook posts and email alerts about job opportunities.
Two key recruitment directories within Australia are:
Professional association / industry specific job listings
Professional associations and industry groups, such as AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute), are a critical part of your career development and graduate job search strategies. In addition to providing professional development and networking opportunities, they are a great source of information about careers in your industry and possible employment opportunities. Many professional associations and peak bodies have a ‘Careers’ section within their website. Recruiters will utilise these professional associations to list job opportunities as they have a targeted audience.
Search professional associations or industry organisations relevant to your field of study or industry of interest. Include their online job boards or career pages in your job search plans. To identify a professional association relevant to your studies, do a web search for ‘Professional Association [insert name of profession] Australia’.
Check JCU alerts
Make sure you check your College and JCU Careers and Employability emails and Facebook posts for advertised opportunities, including graduate positions, graduate programs, course-relevant opportunities, project work, vacation work, internships and volunteering.
Action: Go to your downloaded workbook and complete Activity 2.
Proactive Job Search Approaches
It is important that you do not rely solely on applying for positions via online vacancy listings, as you will potentially be competing against many other applicants. If you are unknown to the employer, you risk being overlooked due to the masses.
The Australian government’s Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experience Report (2018) identified a range of recruitment strategies adopted by 10,000 employers. The surveyed employers often used more than one recruitment strategy to fill vacancies and included the following forums and media:
- Recruitment websites and job boards – 55%
- Word of mouth – 32%
- Recruitment agency/government employment services – 15%
- Company website – 13%
- Social media – 13%
- Newspaper – 11%
- Promoted within business – 9%
- Approached by job seeker – 9%
- Sign in window/billboard- 4%
To ensure you do not miss opportunities, you will need to undertake a number of proactive strategies, including, demonstrating your potential and building your networks, as well as approaching employers, recruiters and others working within your field of interest.
While many jobs are listed online, there are job opportunities that are not advertised. It is estimated that 1 in 5 jobs are not advertised. These opportunities are often referred to as the ‘hidden job market’. Positions are gained through word of mouth or referral, so what you see online does not represent all the opportunities that are available in the world of work.
Successful graduates look for opportunities to connect with employers and identify opportunities throughout their studies at JCU – rather than hoping that the perfect job will appear when they finish. The following proactive job search strategies are designed to help you stand out to employers and be successful in identifying and securing graduate employment.
Have a strong online presence
It is estimated that over 90% of recruiters are using social networking and online tools to source, attract and research job applicants. Therefore, it is essential that you ensure your online persona presents a consistent professional image which highlights your qualifications, skills, abilities, and experiences.
Gain the attention of employers
Be proactive on social media. Engage with your future industry area. Demonstrate that you are actively contributing and adding value to your future profession. Carefully manage your online footprint and only make posts that fit your professional image and job search strategy.
- Identify key employers and employees in your area and connect with them
- Post on topics relevant to your industry area
- Establish a blog or personal website and write on topics relevant to your industry
- Tweet carefully and to the point
- Follow employers and influencers of interest on social media
- Join and contribute to relevant online forums and groups where your target employers are participating.
Keep your privacy settings tight on all your social networks that you do not wish to be seen by employers. Most employers will research an applicants’ online presence during the recruitment process to determine their professionalism and if they are the right fit. Employers have changed their minds about hiring a candidate based on their social media profile. They particularly do not want to see illicit drugs, drunken photos, profanity, defamatory comments, bad spelling and grammar. Remember that what you put online stays there forever, even if you delete it – so always think twice before you post anything.
If you would like to further explore how to effectively gain the attention of employers, complete the Develop Your Personal Identity module within JCU Employability Edge.
Identify job opportunities through your networks
You are surrounded by connections that could lead to employment. You have access to a large network of people who you know from high school and university, part-time employment, professional associations, extracurricular activities, family relationships, and day-to-day social contacts. All of these contacts are potential sources of information and referrals, and are therefore valuable resources for your graduate job search and your ongoing career development. Let your networks know what you are up to professionally and that you are looking for work.
Employers are more likely to recruit someone who has been recommended by a trusted contact, than an unknown person through a job posting. When filling a vacancy, employers will often ask their staff or networks for recommendations of potential candidates. Let your networks know that you are actively seeking employment, so that they can put your name forward, connect you to potential job possibilities, and be your referees. LinkedIn Higher Education contends that 80% of positions are filled through a referral.
Sutton (2012), suggests five steps when leveraging your networks.
1. Review your contacts and identify those who will be helpful in your job search
- Talk to your family and friends about your job search
- Increase your scope by looking outside of your immediate circle
- Talk to your neighbours, classmates, academics
- Talk to your professional contacts, i.e. current and former employers, work colleagues, staff you have met on placements or work experience
- Talk to your online professional networks.
2. Prioritise your contacts and identify quality connections
- Firstly, approach contacts with whom you have stronger relationships and know you on a personal level. They will generally be more invested in your job search success.
- Next, approach your contacts who are well-connected and have demonstrated a willingness to connect you to potential employers.
- If a contact cannot help, always ask them if they know someone who could (referrals).
3. Set small goals as approaching your contacts can be daunting. Aim to initially approach one contact per week, while you build your confidence.
4. Clearly articulate to your contacts, your job areas of interest, and what you can do for an employer (your skills, knowledge and qualifications). This will help your contacts connect you with most appropriate employers and/or job opportunities. Be clear on what support you need from your contacts – it may be a job lead, a referral, an opinion, or advice.
5. Follow up with any leads provided by your contacts and always acknowledge their support by sending a thank you note or email. Keep in touch and let your contacts know of your progress. Consider setting a schedule to follow up with your priority contacts.
Continue to develop your professional networks
Learn to be proactive, and to take advantage of any opportunity to network and meet prospective employers face-to-face. Ensure you present yourself as someone who is positive, enthusiastic, competent, knowledgeable, and interested – a potential employee who is worth serious consideration.
Attend industry events and conferences, and join your industry’s professional association and actively participate. Network with the start up and entrepreneurial community, attend meetups, and register for start up weekends, workshops, and hackathons. Investigate Startup Townsville or the Cairns Startup & Entrepreneurs Meetup group.
Maximise LinkedIn’s networking functionality
Connect with friends, previous university or school classmates, and previous and current work colleagues on LinkedIn. Connect with professionals from a LinkedIn group, recruiters, employers or JCU alumni. LinkedIn Higher Education has connection request templates to help guide you through this process.
If you do not have any connection with an employer of interest, research the employer’s LinkedIn site to identify staff. You will be able to identify your first, second and third-degree connections at that company. Reach out to these connections for a possible introduction or advice about how to best approach the employer. In some industries, it is becoming increasingly important to have a presence on LinkedIn as more and more employers use it as a professional networking site to search for suitable candidates for their opportunities.
If you would like to further explore how to effectively network, complete the Develop Your Personal Identity module within JCU Employability Edge.
Demonstrate future potential
To stand out among the many online applicants, a very effective job search strategy is to demonstrate first-hand your potential to an employer. This may be through:
- Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities (such as a placement, practicum, fieldwork, internships and/or projects) as part of your university studies. Check your College’s work integrated learning or placement pages to identify opportunities.
- Internships, cadetships, vacation programs, work experiences, or student challenge/competition independent to your degree requirements. These opportunities are advertised on the employers own websites, or through JCU CareerHub, Grad Connection, GradAustralia, Australian Public Service Cadetships, Scholarships and Work Experience, or Queensland Government Student Opportunities sites
- Short-term employment, a casual position, or gig jobs
- Volunteering – see the JCU Volunteering webpage for a full list of opportunities or Seek Volunteer
- Alternative roles (entry level, limited term) with an employer of choice with the intention of progressing into a more preferred position when it became available.
You are potentially one of the first people that the employer considers as a suitable candidate if an opportunity arises within the organisation. The 2019 AAGE survey of graduate employers identified that 62% of employer respondents hired applicants who had gained experience within their organisations working as interns, summer vacation students, or seasonal clerks. If you have a clear idea of your career direction and the graduate employer you wish to work for, then it is strongly recommended you seek an opportunity/experience with that employer to showcase your potential.
In addition, evidence of relevant experience is a high priority for employers. Many employers prefer to hire people with previous experience as it demonstrates your capabilities. It is not guaranteed, but gaining relevant experience can help you stand out in the application process. For information on how to write an ‘Expression of Interest’ for a work experience, go to the Master Written Applications module within JCU Employability Edge.
Register with recruitment agencies
Employers may place vacancies directly with a recruitment agency or an independent recruiter. Good agencies or recruiters can open doors and be of great benefit in your job search.
Recruitment agencies provide different services to employers and job searchers. Some agencies specialise in an industry area, while others will specialise in several areas. Some agencies specialise in entry level positions or temping, while others specialise in executive recruitment. Temping is often a good way to get your foot in the door.
Research and identify the agencies that specialise in your career areas of interest. A simple online search will identify recruitment agencies relevant to your interests.
Attend employer events
Attend careers fairs, job expos and other employer events to connect with employers and learn about their organisations and current and future job opportunities. These events may be hosted online and present you with the ideal opportunity to connect with potential employers and impress them. After the event, follow up with any contacts via LinkedIn or email to ensure you stay connected and that they remember you.
- JCU Careers Fair is held each year and allows you to network with regional, state and national employers and learn about job opportunities and future career paths.
- The Big Meet is held each year for university students and recent graduates. A wide range of employers participate from private and public sectors, professional associations, and not-for-profit organisations
- JCU Careers and Employability ‘Online news, networking and information sessions’ and Facebook posts advertise upcoming virtual employer events and employability webinars.
- JCU Connect is the innovation hub for the university and organises events, workshops and other opportunities to develop your creative skills and connect with the entrepreneurial sector.
Directly approach employers of interest
You may find that you have no leads to a job or employer that you are interested in. Do not wait for jobs to be advertised – consider approaching an employer of interest directly. This is often referred to as cold calling.
Before you approach an employer or send a speculative application, ensure you thoroughly research the organisation and the roles within the organisation. Look at their staff listing on their website or LinkedIn page, and check if any of your friends or networks work within the organisation. If so, they may be able to introduce you to the employer. This will greatly increase the chance of an employer responding to your enquiries.
Identify the right person to contact, which may be the Human Resource manager or staffing partner. Check employers’ websites to find out who this person is. Job listings posted on LinkedIn will show who posted the job and give you further information on who you can contact. Make contact and introduce yourself via LinkedIn message or email, and express your keen interest in working for their organisation and detailing your relevant selling points. Ensure your message is targeted to each employer and not a generic message sent to hundreds of employers!
Employers are often interested in people who are proactive and make the effort to contact them. Follow up with a phone call or email and request a meeting to discuss possible opportunities. Keep in touch, so that they remember you.
Action: Go to your downloaded workbook and complete Activity 3.
To view this video, login to LinkedIn Learning through the JCU website and then search for ‘A Career Strategist’s Guide to Getting a Job’.
Enact Your Job Search
Review your current job search approach
There is a lot of work involved in conducting a successful graduate job search. How confident are you that you are prepared and organised? Are you ready to find out?
Action: Go to your downloaded workbook and complete Activity 4.
Know when to apply and accept an offer
Do your research to ensure you are applying or potentially accepting a job that fits your goals and credentials, and is a good cultural and motivational fit. Read the job advertisement and position description closely, and prepare interview questions that will clarify what you are unsure about in relation to the job and the organisation.
- Does the organisation offer you the specialisations or position that fits your career interests and goals?
- What are the key responsibilities of the position? Do they fit with your interests and skills?
- Will the job move your career in the right direction, and will you be satisfied?
- What is its primary mission/work, culture, reputation, and working environment?
- Will you be supported as a graduate?
- Does the company invest in their employee’s career development? Does it offer in-house training, mentoring and seminars?
- What benefits and perks are offered e.g. flexible work arrangements, paid study, overtime pay
- What is the salary? Does this fit your expectations? Is the remuneration package acceptable?
Research the company website, and speak to current and past employees through your networks to determine what it is like to work for a particular organisation. Clarify any questions/concerns during your job interview, and read company employee reviews available on SEEK, GradAustralia, Glassdoor and Whirlpool.
Be realistic – it is unlikely that you will love every aspect of your work all the time. However, you do need to feel a sense of alignment with the organisation and position in relation to your preferences, priorities, and values.
Stay positive, flexible, and resilient
Job searching can be a stressful, intimidating, and frustrating process, particularly when things do not go to plan. You may not be offered the job, the recruitment process may be laborious and lengthy, employers may not get back to you, the role may be withdrawn, or an internal candidate may be placed in the position.
Try not to get overwhelmed with the process as it takes time. Focus on maintaining a positive attitude and being persistent. Know when it is time to stop doing things that are not working. Do not push yourself so hard that you give up on your job search or lose the ability to present your best self to employers. Employers are looking for positive, energetic, and productive staff, so it is important that you present as confident and positive.
Remember to take care of yourself, take a break and do something different that you enjoy. Commit to activities which help you maintain your mental well-being. Meditation and exercise have both been proven to combat stress, control anxiety, and foster a sense of well-being.
Reach out to your support networks. Identify friends and family members who are supportive as they can be a great support while you are going through the job search process. They can give feedback and support and keep you positive and on track through the process. Connect with others going through the job search process, and stay in contact with your professional network, so that you are up to date with what is happening in your industry and have access to their advice and support.
Finally, be aware of your inner critic. Negative thoughts (I’m not good enough, I’m terrible at interviews) will drain your confidence, increase your stress, and reduce your ability to present positively and confidently. Challenge your critical thoughts and replace them with positive and affirming thoughts – I have a lot to offer this employer, I have unique strengths, I am not there yet, but I am getting there. Remind yourself of your strengths and abilities and what you can bring to the employer and position.
If you do not get the job you are really hoping for, do not take it personally. There are many reasons you may have missed out, such as a more qualified, experienced person may have applied.
- Learn from the application experience
- Ask for constructive feedback
- Reflect on whether there was anything you would do differently next time, and then make a firm commitment to move on.
Try to take something positive that you have learnt from every part of your job search. Each job application increases your labour market understanding and application skills, and brings you closer to your desired result.
Support available through JCU Careers and Employability
Good luck with your graduate job search. JCU Careers and Employability is here to support you successfully transition into graduate employment. An appointment with a team member could provide the focus, practical steps, and motivation you need to make things happen.
JCU students and recent graduates are welcome to speak with a Careers and Employability staff member in-person or via phone or Zoom. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with a career or employment questions, or to gain support and advice about a job application.
Visit JCU Careers and Employability to find out more about the services and resources available to support you.
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