'I've just graduated!': 5 crucial pre-employment tips

Summary:For those leaving university after their final year exams, five key important things to take into account when preparing and applying for jobs.

Hundreds of thousands of students have finished their final year exams and are preparing to enter the employment market for the first time. With this in mind, and with a global economy which is steadily recovering after the financial crisis, this year has potential to open up employment opportunities.

The UK has a strong university network, with each institution having a dedicated students' union. Many students leaving education are lucky enough to land themselves a 'sabbatical' position running their union - an external organisation there to represent their former students, and an excellent bridging gap between education and employment.

But for everyone else bar these select few, things may not be so easy. There are a few things to take into strong account when applying for jobs - wherever you are in the world; most of these will be reversal propositions from things done whilst still at school.

1. Clean up your online life

Depending on the job you go for, it's advised that you go through your online 'life' and remove what you can of what you have, especially those drunken photos on Facebook. Sure, you won't be able to "delete" the photo but the sooner the better, as Google's cache gets updated every week or so.

Potential employers use Facebook, Twitter and all kinds of online social networking sites to search by name and to see what they can find without asking you directly. Go through each thing and make sure it isn't going to shoot you in the foot at a later stage.

Even considering making sure some of your 'friends' get the cut. If a few of them are affiliated with you, and they have a not so lovely past or frankly they have political values which are practically fascist and you're joining the police force - these will have to go.

2. Register for job search websites and LinkedIn

There are dozens of those job sites out there which can help you get your CV/resume out there. If you don't have a CV/resume to start with, MyFuture has a great resume builder and everything from headings to content.

Never aim too low, but always try for those realistic entry jobs. Experience is everything, so if you want to work in broadcasting or journalism, start off low level and work your way up. Sites like CareerBuilder have entry level job categories which are great for graduates; and also FlipDog which may seem simple on the face of it really works well - and who can forget Monster.com which has every tool under the sun to get you on your way.

LinkedIn is a bit like Facebook except - firstly you don't need to worry about data breaches - and allows you to connect with people who you know already and build up your professional network of people. Think of it like a professional Facebook come rolodex.

GlassDoor.com allows you to join and look within the depths of the companies you want to work for - find the honest, anonymous reviews - as well as salary details of those at your hope-to-be position. It's a brilliant looking glass for how the employees feel, like and dislike. Students can get their free no-hassle access using their .edu email address.

3. Make connections!

You cannot underestimate people power. There will be people you know at university who will end up shooting through the corporate ceiling like you never believed. I know someone who - hand on heart - I know will be a future Prime Minister. You cannot afford to cut ties with anyone, because you never know when a career changing move will come your way.

Connections are invaluable. It's how I got my job here, and with this job comes more and more connections with all kinds of big shots. Move within your subject circles, email a few people influential in your field and enquire about things you've always wanted to ask. You'd be surprised where it would get you.

I hate to say it, but it's not what you know but who you know. And, it doesn't matter what degree classification you get; what does matter is how dedicated and motivated you are and how you show it.

4. Get a professional looking email address

Many of those still at university use their in-house email account as a correspondence point between potential employers and themselves. This is not a bad practice, as it shows you are indeed at university and automatically of a level of education.

But for those who are soon to become alumni may lose that address. It's advised that you scrap any of your old personal accounts which might have a non-professional look, and get a Gmail account which has your name and only your name - maybe a variant of it if your account is already taken.

Having a professional looking email address is important, and in my experience, gmail.com addresses do look better to the eye. A hotmail.com does look a bit early-2000's so if you are to go with Hotmail, get a live.co.## address, with your country's locale as the latter part.

5. Get written recommendations

If you have worked in a formal capacity with anyone at university within your subject or degree, then ask them for a written recommendation or a reference. Don't feel awkward; they would have been asked dozens of times over their career.

For example, I am lucky enough to have been lectured by Michael Kölling at the University of Kent, now a professor in his subject and a world leader in Java development. Had I gone into a Java development job, a recommendation or reference from him would have almost certainly landed me the job.

If you are an employer, what wise employment words would you have to a recent graduate?

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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