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Graduates – How to stand out from the crowd

Graduate wearing cap in front of green chalk board with "career" written multiple times behind them

Sam Stocks CVs & Interviews, Graduate

​Despite the IT job market being arguably its most buoyant ever, it continues to be tough for graduates to find jobs. Why is that?

Everyone seems to want “Experienced hires” or “Mid-Senior level” candidates. Of the 17 live vacancies I’m working on only 1 of them would consider graduate/junior options. So, if you need the experience to get a job but you can’t get experience without a job what do you do? This is an issue every graduate in 2021 is facing, companies just don’t see a degree as enough nowadays, you need to stand out from the crowd! How? Here are some tips on where to start:

Smash your degree – A slightly obvious one but a 1st or a 2:1 is preferable. 9/10 graduate roles I’ve worked in the past have stated a 2:1 or above. Granted life throws all sorts at us and getting a lower degree is still a degree but the higher the grade the better, with a lower grade you’re starting on the backfoot.

Start building a portfolio – You’ve done uni projects and probably personal projects so display them somewhere. Get a Github where you can show off your coding skills or built a website/portfolio to send to potential employers. Showing someone what you can do has a lot more credibility than just telling them.

Find other work experience – A degree with no commercial experience is great, but even a summer job/internship makes a difference and often you don’t need prior experience to secure these. This shows that you’ve been out there and done it in the commercial world and that matters to most employers. If you can do a placement year as part of uni that’s ideal, if not find a summer placement. Don’t wait until after your degree to start finding work experience.

Put yourself out there – Opportunities aren’t just going to fall in your lap. Get a decent linked in profile, start building a network, attend user groups, seminars, events, share your content online … You never know who might be able to help or who might know someone who’s hiring. Having a network of people will really help when it comes to securing that 1st full time role.

Have a good CV – Two candidates could have exactly the same skills, experience, and grade …. in this scenario the CV is going to be what stands out and gets you the interview. Have a clear structure to your CV. Include Name, address, contact info and location at the top. Lead with a list of technical skills followed by work experience and qualifications. Don’t use a strange format or document type, keep it to a simple word doc with a basic font and Bold/bigger text for section headings so it’s easier to read. It doesn’t have to be clever or fancy just display the need-to-know info clearly. *Disclaimer* - My advice on this one is for tech jobs E.G. Software developers. In other industries, it can be good to have a stand out CV.

Other tips and tricks include; Chase up job applications, ask for feedback when it’s a “no”, research the companies you’re applying to, build soft skills, practice interview questions, get a mentor …

If you’re looking for more CV advice or tips on how to stand out then please feel free to reach out to Sam Stocks by email to samstocks@spectrumit.co.uk or call Sam on 02380 765304. As a recruiter, we see hundreds of CVs a day and we know what companies look for (it’s literally our job).