After graduation, you may feel the pressure of getting a full-time job straight off the bat. There’s also a lot they don’t tell you about getting a job after uni, like how it will probably change your lifestyle. So many people experience this, but it’s not always talked about.
It can be quite difficult to get a job after uni, which is why I’ve made this article to share tips on how maximise your candidacy potential and hopefully give you some insights into what job recruiters are looking for. This is the type of article I wish I had when I spent many months applying for jobs. Keep reading to read my experience going from uni to a full-time job and tips I wish I had when I first started applying…
Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash.
The 4 Steps of Going from University to a Full-Time Job.
1. The expectations after graduating university.
In your last year of university, you’ll be getting constantly swamped with questions like, “Have you got a job lined up?” or, “What’s the plan after uni?” The thing is, you’ll have no idea. I know I didn’t. I did want to take a gap year and travel, which also took the pressure off the fact that I most definitely did not have a job lined up.
It was exciting to graduate, but nonetheless stressful. You have this big celebration and are free of school, the past 13+ years of education and having a schedule to cling to — a purpose. But now, what do you do?
After graduation, I kept working at my casual job where I’d work 15–20 hours a week. Although I had a great time there as the work was easy and my coworkers had become some of my closest friends, my job didn’t give me the purpose or the drive I needed.
I then went to Europe a month after graduation in late January and came back mid-March. Although I had this amazing experience and was constantly travelling and doing so much every day, when I came back home, everything felt still. The Gold Coast was then hit with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions two weeks after I landed and life was more still than ever. I’d explain to you how being in lockdown for weeks on end felt, but I’m sure you know. When cases were down and restrictions started easing, I started applying for jobs.
2. Applying for jobs after university.
My experience applying for jobs on the Gold Coast.
Before applying for jobs, I had put it off and dismissed the fact that it’d be hard to get a job. If I didn’t apply, then I didn’t have to admit it was very competitive and it would not be easy to ‘just have a job lined up.’
When I was ready to start applying, I completely redid my resume, updated my LinkedIn, had a basic cover letter I could adjust for each job and was actively applying everyday. What they don’t tell you about getting a job after uni is the process of applying for jobs can actually be like a job. Every day I woke up, made a coffee and then spent the next several hours on Seek, LinkedIn and Pedestrian TV applying for jobs.
After a couple weeks went by with no response to any of my applications, I started applying for jobs in Brisbane and Sydney as well, which also didn’t offer any jobs. Researching companies and re-writing cover letters constantly is exhausting, especially when you don’t see the payoff.
You have to work to get a job. If you copy and paste a cover letter for each application, you won’t be able to compete with someone who has similar skills and experience to you, but who did the research and wrote a banging cover letter showing their knowledge of the company and how they fit in.
Yet, I was lucky enough to not have gotten a job in this time as it wasn’t until much later on that I saw Localsearch was looking to hire someone for the marketing team and my dream came true. I was excited but didn’t want to get my hopes up as this was an ideal job for someone who recently graduated with a Marketing Major; a digital marketing service. But, lucky I was and I got the call that I got the job just 8 hours after my in-person interview. I was ecstatic.
Here’s some motivation for those of you who are months into applying:
3. How working full-time changes your lifestyle.
What they don’t tell you about getting a job after uni is the major change in lifestyle. It brings structure to your life. Structure you haven’t had while working a casual job for the past 4 years, completing a bachelor’s degree in the past 3 and then being stuck in lockdown for the recently passed few months.
Now, weeks go by quicker and I know exactly when I’m working and that I’ll have weekends off, making it easy to make plans with friends and family. On the other side, I don’t feel bad for doing absolutely nothing some weekends. I appreciate taking time for myself and having an exercise and skincare routine, spending time lying at the beach and reading.
I’m often exhausted after work, but the work I do is rewarding. Moreover, I’m not tired from being pushed too hard or from doing extremely difficult things, but from the change of environment, lifestyle, peers and constantly learning. Yet, I am more motivated than ever and have [finally] cleaned my room and can wake up at 6am without feeling like I need 6 shots of coffee. My weekends are now relaxing, because I know when I’m working (unlike when I was a casual staff member working in the entertainment and hospitality industry and would receive my roster 3 days before my shift schedule, always working different days and hours).
Working for a digital marketing service, you work diagonally instead of horizontally. At my casual job, I worked horizontally, working the same days over and over again with no career growth and no new knowledge gained. At my full-time job, I learn more every day; I feel important (even though I’ve just started) and I have a purpose. I have also learned to enjoy winding down after work. I take joy in quiet nights making dinner and reading books — may I recommend The Space Between, brought to you by the creators of Shameless Media; Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald?
[Side note: This book is incredible. I’ve never read a book that hard to put down. After the first section alone (it’s divided into 4 main sections), I had never laughed and cried more while reading a book. It’s the perfect book to explain what it’s like in your early twenties and the uncertainty and challenges that come with being in your twenties. I’ve recommended it to all my friends, who have read it and been equally excited to recommend it to all of their friends, and so on. So, if you’re in your twenties, this is the book for you.]
4. The learning never stops.
When you enter a full-time marketing job, you never stop learning. Although I had a degree and previous experience under my belt, I couldn’t even tell you everything I’ve learned in the past month. I have been learning more areas of the marketing department while also having my daily and weekly tasks. It’s thrilling to have so much opportunity and exciting to see real changes, drawing up weekly reports, which assists with analysing marketing results and seeing the payoff.
The first week I started, everyone at Localsearch was so welcoming, whether they had been with the company for 3 months or were a long-term executive. It’s the kind of environment where you can have a conversation with anyone without feeling like a bother. It’s also rewarding because there’s so much opportunity to grow. There are presentations for team training, various departments to collaborate with and so much potential to grow your networks. One of my favourite parts is casual Fridays, where we go out for team lunch and yes, dress casually.
2 Top Things Marketing Employers are Looking for.
If you’re looking for or have already been hectically applying for jobs over the past few months, here are some tips I wish I was given when I first started looking for a job. In the grand scheme of things, it is advantageous to have real-world experience and an optimised portfolio to put you in the best position when applying for jobs; essentially, you’re marketing yourself.
1. Real-World Experience
Although having top grades is a great achievement, employers look for applicants who have experience too. It’s arguable an employer will favour a candidate with an average GPA who has completed an internship, assisted with marketing at their café job and is a university mentor rather than a candidate with a 7.0 GPA who has no real-world experience.
Griffith University offers internships as part of their Bachelor of Business, where students can get real experience while still completing their degree. While finding experience can be hard, there are still some ways to find it outside of what uni offers:
You can apply online for internships through websites like Seek or LinkedIn, but you can also directly contact businesses. By emailing a business offering yourself as an intern, they’ll receive free labour and in exchange, you’ll receive real-world experience; it’s a win-win situation for both of you.
1.2 Volunteering/ short-term work experience.
Volunteering is free and often easily achievable, which helps the community, and your resumé. Besides volunteering at homeless shelters, I did a few other one-off experiences to expand my expereince (such as being a runway assistant for a bridal event over two days). By volunteering/ assisting with events, it demonstrates you’re proactive and eager to learn.
1.3 Become a university mentor.
For those who’ve already graduated, you can become a university mentor. This is an easy achievement that you can apply for through your university and mentor someone who was once in your position at uni (and like this article, give them tips you wish you had back then).
1.4 Take online courses.
Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing is a great one if you’re in the marketing industry. It goes through the entire digital marketing process and thoroughly explains every step with adequate examples (great for visual learners, like me). It’s a free 40-hour course that gives you a certificate upon completion. Many companies will recognise this. I know mine did.
1.5 Educate yourself.
If you’re in the marketing industry, familiarise yourself with common platforms and software that most marketing companies use. (E.g. MailChimp, Canva, Adobe Photoshop, WordPress, Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint, etc.). Do the same for any other industry, learn as much as you can about the roles you’re applying for and best align yourself with the types of applicants they want.
2. An Optimised Portfolio
Optimising your portfolio is essential when applying for jobs. You’re often competing with other applicants who are likely to have similar experience to you, so it’s in your best interest to be one step ahead of them. Ensure your LinkedIn is up to scratch, your resumé, cover letter and any other elements to your portfolio are organised and consist of all necessary information to help place you at the top of the list. Follow these six steps to optimise your portfolio:
Ensure your resumé contains your name, title, a bio, your qualifications, experience, contact information, core skills and industry-specific skills. You can add “references on request,” which saves space and lets the hiring team know you do have references (or you can put it on your cover letter). Try to keep it all on one page, or two if necessary.
2.2 Cover letter.
Research the business you’re applying for so you can tailor your cover letter and (sometimes) your resumé to them. Research top skills that employers look for in your industry, which you can add to your resumé (if you have these skills, of course).
As I said before, you have to tailor your cover letter and (sometimes) resumé to each business you apply for. This lets the business know that you are truly interested in their business. Applicants that do the research have a better chance than those who have obviously copy-and-pasted their generic cover letter. Format your cover letter like a letter; have your contact information in the top left corner, then address the business, person or the recruiting team.
To start the letter, address what role you’re interested in and where you saw the job, as this can help them know the most efficient advertising methods. Express your interest in the role and then you can go into detail about your qualifications and experience and how you align with the business. Add any relevant information that’s not already in your resumé. Make sure you reference the business to show you’ve done the research such as, “The opportunity to work at one of Australia’s leading marketing companies would be invaluable to me…” and reference past campaigns you’ve particularly liked, etc.
2.3 No WIX portfolios.
When applying for digital-focused roles, you want to show you’re up to date with best practices. WIX websites are known for being bad for user experience and Search Engine Optimisation. You can create a free, user-focused portfolio using much better platforms, like WordPress, if you want to host your portfolio online.
LinkedIn is the platform for networking and companies will look at your profile if they consider you as a candidate. Have a professional profile photo on your LinkedIn (wear corporate clothes, photo from the shoulders up and smile; smiling demonstrates trustworthiness and transparency). Similar to your resumé, add a bio, any of your previous work (e.g. writing samples), relevant education history and experience. Your LinkedIn profile is a more in-depth and personalised resumé, so show off your skills, networking ability and personality on this platform.
2.5 Follow application instructions carefully.
You can look for job listings and apply on platforms such as LinkedIn, Seek, PedestrianTV or if a business has published a job listing, then apply by email. Make sure you read all aspects of the job application and check it out on any other platforms to see if there are any additional instructions (sometimes businesses will give extra tips on their public accounts rather than job listing sites). Following the job instructions will show off your ability to follow the most basic of instructions, and not doing so will speak volumes.
2.6 Prepare for the interview.
Practice your response for general questions they may ask in an interview (you can also research scenario questions). By being prepared, this can make you more confident and competent when answering questions.
Dress to impress; wear a corporate outfit and be prepared to make yourself more comfortable and confident. You can gain an insight into the business’s dress code by checking their socials (however, if they dress casual, still dress nice for the interview).
Job Application Tips for Marketing.
- Canva has great resumé templates, you can pick one and format it to suit your style.
- Complete Google’s Fundamentals of Digital Marketing course and add it to your resumé.
- Test out social media business accounts and other marketing platforms.
- Follow top businesses in the marketing industry so you can see when they post notifications that they are hiring.
To optimise your portfolio when applying for jobs, you can use resumé services to help ensure you will be a top candidate among the competition. You can find resumé services on Localsearch!