To get hired in today’s job market, you need to meet all the criteria listed for the position. Your skills and experiences must corroborate this.
Not too long ago, a university degree alone could be enough to secure a good job. Now, as a graduate, you may also need to have done work experience, internships, volunteering, and graduate programmes.
The number of applications received for any promising job is high (often in the hundreds). Only a select few get invited to an interview. Of these, only one person gets hired.
Put simply: to be hired, you need to stand out as the best candidate for the job. In this article, we'll show you how you can achieve that.
Elsewhere on WikiJob, we provide lots of advice on preparing for interviews, practising interview questions and answers, and general recruitment tips.
Here we'll cover our top ten tips on how to get that job offer.
Developing a strong network is a key strategy for securing a job.
There are many ways of expanding who you know; using any of these increases your chances of getting hired:
- Private networking – Speak with family and friends to find out any opportunities or connections.
- Professional networking – Attend events set up by key organisations relevant to your job search. These might be advertised at your university or at the company where you are an intern, for example.
- Career events – Attend job fairs or career events for graduates.
- Socialising – Going out with a group of people in the same sector is a great way to meet influential people (e.g. managers).
- Online networking – Actively engage with key organisations or industry professionals on social networks. Make intelligent contributions to debates and discussion topics.
In a networking situation, you should:
- Prepare your elevator pitch and introduce yourself clearly and confidently.
- Arrange meetups with any old or new connections.
- Build a relationship by being authentic about your needs. Ask for advice.
- Maintain your network by making a list of key people you know. Make time to follow up with them.
Social media is widely used for job searching, advertising jobs, giving and receiving industry-specific advice, etc. It is also used by employers to vet a potential employee.
The Society for Human Resource Management, a North American accreditation body for HR professionals, found that 77% of surveyed organisations use social media for recruitment and sourcing of job candidates. Their primary tool for this was LinkedIn.
More recently, a 2018 survey of 2,300 organisations conducted by CareerBuilder found that more than half of companies were less likely to recruit someone who didn’t have an online presence. They were also less likely to hire someone with questionable content online.
Promoting your online presence adds to your brand. Your social media presence is a critical part of securing a job.
- Think before you post text, images or videos. Always consider what you are saying and how it could be perceived.
- The language you use says much about your attention to detail, grammar, communication skills, etc.
- Use career platforms like LinkedIn to showcase your skills and knowledge.
- Always make sure your profile (including qualifications) is accurate and authentic.
- Avoid discriminatory or inappropriate comments or content. Bullying, confidential posts or even negative posts about old employers should not be shared.
- Be careful about publicly discussing sensitive topical issues.
- Consider the screen names you use and your email address. Keep everything professional and straightforward.
Research the company before your interview: it is a critical part of your preparation. You should also thoroughly understand the job role itself.
Visit the organisation's website to understand who they are and what they do. Failing to understand the organisation or job role is cited as one of the biggest reasons why employers reject candidates.
- Check the company website and general news sites for any relevant updates.
- Read over the company website. In particular, the ‘About Us’ section (or mission statement), news and media press releases, organisational culture and key staff members.
- Have a good understanding of what they do, their market, competitors and partners. It will help you answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?”
- Know about the company’s current strengths and weaknesses, and how it compares to competitors.
- Check its social media presence on all platforms.
- Check the online presence of key staff members (CEO, directors, managers, etc.) and interviewers, if you know their names.
- Read over the reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. These reviews can give useful tips on the recruitment process.
- Use your network to learn about the company.
- Understand the job description and expectations.
- Understand any unfamiliar terminology.
- When invited to an interview, contact HR or your recruiter to find out as much specific information as you can to help you prepare (the type of interview, how many interviewers and their names, etc.)
- Review online discussion boards or forums that discuss similar positions.
4. Tailor Your Application and Interview Answers
Many job-seekers think that the more CVs you send out, the better your chance of getting hired. But if you're sending the exact same CV to multiple jobs, that reduces the quality of each application and may not get you an interview.
No two positions are the same, so your CV, cover letter and your interview answers should be tailored. You can use master copies and then edit each as required.
- Read and understand the job advert.
- Show how you meet the necessary skills and back these up with examples.
- Think about how you have structured your CV and highlight key information. Mention any essential job-specific requirements.
- Use your company research to find out key information you can refer to in your application.
- Keep your LinkedIn profile updated.
- As your career advances, not all the information you have on your CV and cover letter will be applicable, so pick information relevant to each job.
- When writing your CV, cover letter or thinking of interview answers, use language and keywords used in the job advert.
- Don’t plagiarise.
A job interview is the first time a potential employer will meet you. How they remember you will be based at least partly on how you present yourself.
- Interviews usually require business formal or business casual dress codes.
- Research the dress code using the company’s website or social media.
- Present yourself well but don’t go overboard.
- Be comfortable – if not, you will be more self-conscious.
- Make sure your hands are clean and your nails are tidy.
- Ensure good personal hygiene and that you don't smell of food or cigarette smoke.
- Choose conservative, weather-appropriate clothes and professional but comfortable shoes.
- Pick standard business colours.
- Avoid statement pieces such as brightly patterned clothes or jewellery.
- These days, facial hair, tattoos and piercings are viewed more favourably in many industries. However, it is best to attend an interview as conservatively as you can.
- If you are wearing a suit, it is usually best to wear a tie or have one with you.
- Complete your appearance by polishing your shoes and wearing wrinkle-free clothes.
6. Timing and Arrival
Timing is important and is one of the easiest things to get right.
You should never be late; always arrive a few minutes before the time scheduled.
If there is an unavoidable circumstance causing you to be late, then it is essential to inform the person you are meeting as soon as you can.
- Before leaving, double-check the address and postcode and plan your route.
- If you are using public transport, download your journey offline in case you lose internet access.
- Allow for delays.
- Aim to be 10 to 15 minutes early.
- Leave time to check your appearance and personal hygiene before going in.
- When you arrive at reception, politely let them know you have arrived and make sure you know the name of your contact. For larger organisations, you might need to register or sign in.
7. First Impressions Count
The first face-to-face impression of you is when you arrive and greet your interviewer. Their initial interactions with you might affect how they perceive the rest of the interview.
For example: if you greet them nervously and forget to smile, they might feel that you aren’t particularly interested in the job.
It's a good idea to think about and practice your soft skills and how you need to present yourself.
- Sit confidently in the waiting room in case you are observed.
- Drink water. Often when we are nervous, we get thirsty.
- When the interviewer or an assistant comes to receive you, make sure to smile, stand up, greet them and offer your hand.
- When you walk into the room to meet the rest of the interviewers, make sure to smile and shake their hand and introduce yourself.
- Wait for a gesture or invitation to sit down.
- Sit upright with an open posture. Feet should either be tucked to the side or laid flat on the floor. Don’t cross your legs.
- You should be friendly and conversational, but not too casual.
- Candidates are often nervous and tend to speak fast. If you find yourself doing this, slow down and take a deep breath. Your answer will be more measured if you deliver it articulately.
- Practice makes perfect – interviews are out of most people’s comfort zone. Rehearse your presentation with friends and family.
8. Ask the Right Questions
Asking questions at the end of an interview shows your enthusiasm, job interest and whether you paid attention.
Prepare ahead of time and tailor your questions to the job.
- You need at least one question and a maximum of two or three.
- Don't ask about the salary and benefits, or about getting time off.
- Ask questions that show who you are as a colleague and team player, or how passionate you are about succeeding at the job.
- Increase your rapport with the interviewer and ask about their experiences.
- Discuss any topical organisational current affairs.
The two or three references you provide matter; a prospective employer might contact each one. If they are uncertain which candidate should get the job, a useful reference may be the tipping point in your favour.
Your referee’s opinions are the final steps of the recruitment process and are often a determining factor for your success.
- Unless requested, it is not required to include references on your CV.
- As your career progresses, you will have more people who can provide references. It is beneficial to tailor the references you use for each position.
- References can be your boss, supervising manager, mentor or a colleague. For early-career candidates, this might be difficult but you can include teachers, mentors or colleagues from any university, volunteering or internship positions.
- Your referee should be willing to provide a positive reference for you. You need to be confident they will give you a stellar review. If you are unsure about the type of reference you will receive, you should not use them.
- When the employer asks for your referees, provide those who will best speak about your job capability.
- Let your referees know that they will be contacted and give them information about the position and organisation. Send them a copy of your CV and highlight any skills relevant to the job that you would particularly like to highlight.
- Thank your referees with an email or phone call.
- Stay in touch with your referees once or twice a year, so that they know what you are doing.
10. Thank You and Follow-Up
A thank you email serves a few purposes. It is a polite gesture to thank the interviewer and a subtle reminder of who you are and your interest in the job. It might be their last impression of you before they make a decision.
Aim to send it 24 to 48 hours after the interview.
- Your thank-you note must be customised for the recipient.
- Thank them for their time, remind them about your talents and why you are the best fit for the role.
- Add in some knowledge you learned about the organisation during the interview, such as a new venture or a skill shortage, and how you can contribute positively.
- It is the final sales pitch you make for yourself, so keep it short but specific. Remind them why you should be a part of the organisation.
People are the most significant overhead for any organisation. There are a lot of jobs out there but, equally, many applicants. To stand out, you need to go the extra mile.
These tips will add to your application, help you get hired fast and improve the overall impression you make with any future employer.
You may be interested in these other articles on WikiJob:
Common Interview Questions
What 10 Skills Do Employers Most Want From Graduates?
Surprising Job Interview Tips
Why Can't I Find A Job?
What You Should Wear to an Interview
Which Jobs Require No Experience?
What Are Some of the Best Career Strategies
What Is Your Career Horoscope?