Top tips to successfully navigate your job search
For National Careers Week, we want to share advice and insights on how to best approach your job search, navigate a competitive market and perform at your best every step of the way. We want you to access your full potential and take the right steps towards successfully finding a role post-graduation.
Our Postgraduate Careers Team have shared their top tips to help you succeed and progress along your job search journey.
1. Reflect on the value you offer
Identify what you have to offer the industry, company and role you are applying to. Articulate clearly the skills, knowledge and experience you bring, that are unique to you and will differentiate you in a competitive market. The knowledge and experience you have gained during your time studying at the Business School (formerly Cass) will be highly valuable here. Note down some of the key aspects of your course which are beneficial to the employer. You can log into Cass Careers Online (CCO) to build your self-awareness using the Career Maximiser Programme.
2. Do your research
Once you’ve identified what you have to offer, create a target list of companies you are interested in and research the wider market. Especially keep an eye out for the impacts of Covid-19, the disruptions and transformations occurring in your chosen industry. If you are submitting a job application or have an interview coming up, build an understanding of their business e.g. their marketplace, familiarity with their business model, service or end product. Keep up to date by reading recent news, business press, social media and explore the databases the Business School have subscribed to, which can be accessed through the library, to support your success.
3. Strengthen your personal brand
Utilise LinkedIn to build your online personal brand. Invest time to craft a compelling headline and summary. The headline is the first thing that appears in search results, along with your name and photo. Its purpose is to engage, in 120 characters, a potential contact or recruiter so that they read your full profile. The summary can highlight key elements of your experience and skills tailored to your career goals. Think about the key phrases/words you want to be known for. Watch our LinkedIn Masterclass recording on CCO homepage.
4. Create an achievement-oriented CV
Your CV is a strategic marketing document. Create achievement-oriented and quantifiable bullet points to present your value to an employer. Within the professional experience section, begin each bullet point with an action verb e.g. Research, Analysed, Designed. Then elaborate on each of these by demonstrating how you took this action or why it was important, followed by the outcome and result. Visit our CCO Resources Library to see our recommended 1,2,3 framework for more details and a list of action verbs.
5. Tailor your motivations and passions
Cover letters allow employers to develop a better understanding of your suitability for the position and it complements your CV by demonstrating your passion, suitability and motivation for the industry, company and role. We recommend aiming for about 300 - 400 words, specifically addressing: 1). Why the industry and why the company? 2). Why the role? 3). Highlight the skills you have and that the company requires. Review our cover letters guidelines and template on CCO.
6. Build rapport during virtual interviews
Virtual interviews and assessment centres have become more common than ever before. A key thing here is to come across well even through the camera lens. Position your camera angle to aid your body language. Research shows that when you communicate, it’s the most important factor of three to consider – body language, voice and content. Body language such as eye contact, smiling and nodding your head can contribute towards building a good first impression during virtual interviews. You can also book a 1-1 appointment on CCO to book a practice session ahead of your interview. We can observe your BAR structure, the examples you communicate and all other elements of your answers.
7. Ace the “tell me about yourself…” question
Most of us will have come across this infamous question during a job interview, but what are some of the best ways to answer? Share your background, motivation for applying for the job and also see if there’s a way you can make your answer into a short story about yourself. Research shows that stories are 22x more memorable than facts alone and are easier to listen to so it will keep your interviewer engaged! Watch our Career Webinar ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ with Steve Dalton, it can also be accessed through CCO.
8. Identify competencies assessed
Prior to an interview and assessment centre, identify the competencies you are being assessed against and exercises (e.g. group exercise, presentation, role play, interviews) involved during the assessment centre. Reflect on the competencies and prepare how you can best demonstrate them on the day. Check timings and all instructions in the company invitation. If you have an assessment centre scheduled, we can give you exclusive access to Assessment Day, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
9. Interact and engage
During an assessment centre group exercise, you will be assessed on how you are interacting within the group. Listen carefully, read the information you are given thoroughly to aid your interaction. Engage with group members during the exercise and show as much of your knowledge and understanding as possible. The assessors can only assess you on what you demonstrate on the day. If you have an assessment centre scheduled, get a group of classmates together if you want to practise a group exercise and we can facilitate this by emailing email@example.com.
10. Reflect on your performance
Once you have completed an interview or assessment centre, take the time to reflect on your performance. Complete a self-assessment and reflect on:
1). what you think you did well
2). what you could improve on and do differently next time.
Do this soon after the experience to capture all your learnings. Companies may or may not offer feedback however, if you have had an interview or attended an assessment centre then you are more likely to receive some feedback. You can contact HR or the recruitment team to ask for this.
Best of luck with your job search. For further advice explore the range of support offered by our Postgraduate Careers Team.