July 13, 2023

What next? A graduate’s guide to job hunting

If you have just finished college or university, you might be feeling overwhelmed at the thought of finding your first job. After so many years in structured education, it can be a daunting prospect.

At ATM, Recruitment Manager Serena Khima, is our go-to employment expert, heading up our live vacancies and implementing our recruitment campaigns. In our latest blog, she offers advice on what to consider when starting a job search; from creating a CV, to the power of LinkedIn, and how to keep feelings of rejection at bay.

The Search

When embarking on a job search, it is a good idea to identify what it is you are looking for. Do you want to enter a graduate scheme, committing long term to training and progression within one company? Are you looking for a year’s internship or an apprenticeship with a vocational focus? Being clear on what you want will help narrow down your search and make the recruitment process easier.

Recruitment boards like Indeed or Totaljobs have thousands of jobs. Making sure you are using the right keywords, salary bands and location parameters will help you get more relevant vacancy results.

Joining recruitment agencies is a great way to get your CV reviewed by professionals and placed in front of companies who are looking for candidates.

Remember, not all vacancies are advertised externally, so look at the websites of those companies you would like to work for and find out who is the best person to contact regarding opportunities. Making direct contact with a company shows you are proactive and allows you to start networking within the industry.


Your Skills + Experience

Never shy away from including any part time jobs you have had when studying. Many people forget that bar work, retail jobs and volunteering roles allow you to build soft skills like customer service, time management and decision making. These types of skills are all transferable when moving into full time employment. The same can be said for any societies or extra curricular activities you have been involved in. Think about the skills you might have used and how they might be relevant to the specific job you are applying for.

If you are looking to gain additional work experience, to grow a specific skill set for a role, think about contacting companies directly to see if they are offering opportunities to volunteer on a project.

Many colleges and universities have existing relationships with companies and business owners, who they work with for specific modules, visiting tutor roles or case study projects. Speak to your tutors to see if they can recommend companies or individuals to contact for work opportunities. Having a chat with someone at a company you are interested in, will give you the opportunity to ask what they look for when employing someone. In turn, this could help you develop your skills accordingly.


Your CV

 When creating your CV, think about which job role you are applying for and ensure you tailor it for each opportunity. Certain skills that might be relevant to one company might not be needed for another. Think about how much information you need to include and make sure your CV isn’t too long – as a rule, two pages is long enough for a graduate application. Look at claiming a unique URL for your LinkedIn profile so it is easily accessible for Recruiters when reviewing your CV.

Make sure you cover any gaps of time within your experience, including part time jobs, travelling, volunteering or extracurricular activities. If you can list key achievements under each role, it allows the prospective employer to review areas of experience that might make you stand out from the other applicants.

When including courses and grades, think about including specific modules you have undertaken within your study. This will help an employer understand more about your time of study and the course you have gained qualifications in.

Finally, check spelling and grammar. Ask someone to proof-read anything you send out to prospective employers and make use of spell-checking tools.

Use LinkedIn

Did you know that LinkedIn is now one of the most popular job board for employers to post jobs on? Social Media accounts, like those on LinkedIn, give recruiters an opportunity to background check, providing evidence against an applicant’s CV.

LinkedIn can show endorsements, experience and interests, so make sure you are actively posting and liking content to get you to the top of searches and newsfeeds. Reposting and commenting on industry news and company profile posts are great ways to grow your network and connect with the right people.

Make sure your photo looks professional and you have filled out your profile in full to ensure you don’t have missing information that recruiters might be specifically looking for. Follow those companies and organisations you are applying for and include your LinkedIn profile URL within your CV.

Managing Expectations

Searching for a job is an exciting time, it signals new beginnings and an opportunity to start earning a salary which brings independence. However, it is important that you manage your expectations on how long it might take you to receive a job offer and what the salary might be, as this can help you navigate your search.

It can take on average three to six months to find employment, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t start receiving job offers immediately. Speak to friends who are also embarking on finding a job, the chances are they are experiencing the same hurdles and emotions as you. Talking about it can help ensure you don’t lose confidence and maintain patience throughout.

Feedback is a valuable tool, so make sure you ask those who have interviewed you to give you constructive feedback on what you excelled at, areas for improvement, or additional experience needed.

While you are applying and reaching out to companies, keep building your network and save contacts. Keep in touch with people, checking in regularly and look out for networking or recruitment events within your area.

Being proactive and maintaining a positive attitude will eventually see you succeed in finding the right job for you.


Make sure you keep an eye out for entry level positions on our vacancies board, which may be suited towards graduates.

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