Business Insider interviewed a company founder who has hired over 1,000 people and collected his top tips for recent graduates on breaking into the market. Here’s a summary of Ed Mitzen’s job-hunting essentials:
- Accept that it takes time
It’s normal for it to take some time to find your first job, as you may be competing against other more experienced applicants, and it can take practice getting used to writing applications and selling yourself at interviews.
Mitzen says: “[You] have 40 years of work ahead of [you], maybe more, so there’s no point stressing out if it takes you a few months to find a job once you graduate.”
- Don’t be disheartened by rejection
Rejection is just another normal part of the job hunting game that it takes a little while to get used to. The important thing is to keep sending quality applications and think of each job you don’t get as a valuable learning experience on the way to getting the first job that’s perfect for you.
- Don’t expect your dream job straight away
By perfect job, we don’t mean you should expect to walk into your dream career straight away. Mitzen advises:
“Although it can be tempting to go for a role at the level you think you deserve, you should probably focus on getting an entry level position in an industry you really want to get into.”
A career is something that you build over time. In today’s competitive job market, it’s best to go for a job in the industry or company you want to work for and get your foot in the door, so you can start working your way up.
- Equally, don’t let money drive your decisions, however tempting
If you’re worried about paying your rent after finishing your course, it can be tempting to take the first job that comes along, even if it won’t help your career.
Mitzen recommends that you should hold out for something in your industry rather than just going into a bartending job for the money.
“Eventually you’re going to have to take an entry level position somewhere, to begin your career,” he said. “And if you need money, or if that’s more of a driving force, then maybe bartend at night or on the weekends.”
Advice on interviews:
- Research the company
Preparing for your interviews is essential. In particular, you should know the ins-and-outs of the job you are applying for and the company that it’s with. This not only shows your dedication to getting the job, but allows you to ask appropriate and engaged questions.
- Wait until you’re offered the job before you start asking about money
Asking about your salary or benefits too early in the job application process can be off-putting to potential employers. This is a mistake that first-time job seekers often make, says Mitzen.
“You have to be offered the job first before you really have a right to start talking about that stuff,” he said.
- Let your personality shine and remember the interviewer wants you to do well
The interviewer expects you to be nervous. Concentrate your efforts on appearing confident, excited to be there and positive. However, don’t go too far with your confidence and come across as too arrogant.
- Don’t worry too much about experience
But what about the all-too-familiar dilemma faced by jobseekers – how do you get a job without previous experience and how do you get experience without a job?
Mitzen says that you shouldn’t worry too much about what experience the other candidates have but focus on what you can bring to the role. If you don’t have experience, there are other things you can do to stand out.
“I’m more interested in getting to know you as a person — whether you’re hard working, friendly, or have some unusual interests and skills.”
However, it is true that having experience can put you at an advantage. Read our article on getting first-time work experience here.
- Network and use who you know
“If we have a personal reference or recommendation from someone, that can make a difference, at least in terms of getting you through the door,” Mitzen said.
Often if companies receive tens of CVs a day, it can help to use your personal connections to your advantage. If you have a family friend in the industry who can write you a reference, or maybe a tenuous link to someone that works in the company who can put in a good word for you, it may help get you a brief interview with the hiring manager.
- Go the extra mile
It can be tough out there, so those first-time jobseekers that go the extra mile to impress and show their passion are more likely to succeed. Make sure you tailor your CV and your cover letter to each job you apply for – often doing the groundwork and choosing quality over the quantity of applications can make a big difference. Try sending a handwritten note after the interview to thank them for the opportunity.