As a recent graduate in 2019, you’ll be entering a highly competitive job market. The great news is that there’s plenty of job availability. The bad news is that there are increasingly larger amounts of candidates in the candidate pool when applying for jobs. In this guide we’re going to cover why this is happening, what you can do to get noticed in a competitive job market (standing out), getting yourself ready for interviews and increasing your odds of finding employment.
Why is the job market so volatile
The number of candidates entering the job market is always increasing due to the fact that more people across the world are unable to obtain the financial well-being required to be able to retire. Meaning that they are staying in the job market longer. In addition to that, more recent graduates are entering the job market as well. There is economic importance to retirement. And when that balance gets shifted, the supply and demand for the job market go through larger amounts of volatility. Much like the type of volatility we are experiencing today.
That volatility is a job market where it can take longer to get hired and as well as mean that your preparation for doing so needs to be at a much higher caliber. This is due to the fact that you are not only competing with other recent graduates for even entry-level positions, but you are competing with potentially seasoned individuals who are moving down the corporate ladder, as well. This happens when those who are struggling to find work get placed in positions that are lower than their experience level.
Spend time finding opportunities and potential employers
As the job market begins to make these turns, more communities have been developed. These communities can sometimes be digital and other times they can be driven by location. Your goal, as a graduate, will be to find your community that most closely resembles the job function you are applying for.
Let’s take web development as an example. There are a variety of digital communities available for web development, most notably GitHub. You could take part in open-source code projects, where you can show off your talents and potentially be recruited by other contributing members who have employment. Or you could simply create open-source projects, garnish some attention within the discussion forums and potentially use that as experience for future employment.
The point here is to take part in the communities where your peers flourish. They have resources, job boards, networking events, and so much more. All of which are absolutely amazing opportunities to present your skills and get noticed by gainful employers which are specific to the job function you want to play. There’s absolutely nothing better than having an employer recognize your work and offer for you to interview based on that. The more time you invest in these communities, the greater your odds are of combating the competitive landscape.
As a graduate, experience is key
Having experience is absolutely critical in this job market. More so now, than ever. In fact, recent studies have shown that nearly 80% of employers aren’t checking whether or not a bachelors degree or diploma from a university has actually been officiated before employing someone. That means experience is taking precedence over employment decisions. You’ll have heard other guides talk about work experience being required for gainful employment. Here are some simple things to think about when you consider putting together your experience:
- Personal projects are still considered experience. For example, if you are interested in a web development career and you’ve built your own website, mobile application or product. Those are absolutely pieces of experience that you can use to increase your chances of employment.
- Roles you played at university are also considered experience. For example, did you work for your school newspaper? Did you coach a sport? These are considered opportunities for learning about business and learning about leadership.
Finding experience doesn’t necessarily just mean having an internship, though those can certainly help. But if you take a moment to reflect upon the last four years of your life, there should be something in there that can get you noticed. Anything from a construction project that you did with a family to a church retreat that you went on. During those moments, there was an opportunity to learn a skill that is most likely practical towards the business world. Once you’ve found them, it’s important that you package it up into a format that will lend itself kindly to your interviewer.
Packaging these experiences up
The most important thing you can do to get noticed is to avoid simply listing these experiences on your resume. In most circumstances, you’ll be able to get time to speak with an interviewer in a hands-on fashion. That means you’ll have a few minutes to show them something important to your background. If you have something digital already, that will lend itself well to being able to display that to them when there’s a free moment or when you’re discussing your work history. If you don’t have something digital, you may want to put together a small presentation or at the very least something which can be sent by PDF over email in response to the job listing, which they can reference at a later date.
These presentations should speak to the fact that you have gone above and beyond other potential candidates. The way to do that is by speaking to your background and then speaking directly to the job opportunity. Try not to make your digital presentation cookie-cutter, one that you can use for every interview. Speak about your prior experiences and why it fits the mold of the opportunity available by that employer. You’d be surprised how far this will get you. Just by putting in the extra effort.
Once you’ve got the experience, it’s about being comfortable
If you are competing with a veteran job seeker, they’re going to be more comfortable than you when in the “hot seat” during the interview process. It will be because they’ve simply had more jobs than you. And with that comes some knowledge of what the interviewer is looking for and what they aren’t looking for. Thankfully, there’s plenty of resources available that can help you to expedite this process. And you can somewhat skip the line in terms of knowing how to answer interviewers correctly. Remember, experience is going to be a big component of any interviewers process. But they will still ask the normal behavioral interview questions all along the process.
For example, you’ll want to make sure that you know:
- What to expect during a phone interview. Like the questions in a phone interview. And what happens afterward, which is often a thank you note you’ll want to send.
- What to expect during an in-person interview session and how many potential employee’s you may have to speak with (sometimes it can be 4-5 depending on the job function and industry).
- What to expect when the interviewers are proceeding to ask you questions that you don’t seem to pertain to the job function. Certain “trick interview questions” you’ll want to be prepared for, like how to answer “What makes you unique?”
- And lastly, how to handle accepting your job offer, negotiating salary and moving into your new position.
These are the general areas that you should be mindful of, as they are the most common parts of the hiring process across the world. Once you take the time to prepare yourself with what to expect, you’ll naturally become more comfortable, know how to answer certain questions and increase your odds of receiving an offer of employment and being hired as a recent graduate.