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Top Tips for Graduates Trying to Get a Foot in the Door

Author: Ollie Ballard

Published date: 2021/03

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You have just finished your studies and are ready to take on the world, but where do you start when it comes to finding your first role in a brand-new industry?

Below I have given my top tips around how to get your foot in the door and set yourself apart from the competition.

Take advantage of any connections you have
The construction industry, in particular, can be very incestuous and it’s just as much about who you know as what you know.

With relationships being one of the most important factors throughout your career, it’s worthwhile investing early by making contacts at relevant industry events, awards nights or networking events. By putting yourself out there and talking to as many contacts as possible, you’re giving yourself a greater chance of meeting the right person who is willing to give you a shot. While this may not have an instant impact on you in terms of a new role, it can also help further down the line when you cross paths with that person and you’ve already been introduced.

Review your social media profiles
Employers are now digging deeper than ever by not just reading through a resume and sitting down for an interview, but also searching through your social media. We all have an embarrassing drunken selfie or two which is fine but remember before applying to roles to either switch your profile to private or simply get rid of anything that might portray you as unprofessional.

There would be nothing worse than your dream job going to someone else because of a photo you put up 5 years ago of you partying in Amsterdam.

Put together a relevant cover letter and resume
This seems obvious but more often than not I receive cover letters that haven’t been properly edited, with the wrong job title listed on there or they are just completely irrelevant to the role advertised. A cover letter isn’t always essential when applying to a role through an agency but strongly recommended when applying to a company directly.

There is plenty of content online around how to put together a resume and a lot of websites include templates that you can use. Ultimately there is no magic formula as everyone has a different opinion on how a resume should read, but my suggestion would be to try and be specific with things like employment dates (includes month and year) as well as trying to get your personality across.

Be selective in what you’re applying for
Arguably one of the most important points here and something that a lot of Graduates understandably struggle with. I can imagine after countless applications and not hearing anything back, the temptation would be to apply to anything and everything slightly related to your studies. I would strongly recommend that you stay patient and only apply to roles that genuinely match your skillset.

Whether it’s on LinkedIn, Seek, Indeed or any other job board, everyone can see your activity and subconsciously start to paint a bit of a picture when they see that you’ve applied to 500 roles in a week. An employer wants to feel like you WANT to work for them and them only, so when they see that you’ve also been applying to Senior roles or positions that are completely outside of your capabilities it doesn’t always reflect well.

When you secure an interview do your prep
You’ve applied to a few relevant roles with a well written resume and cover letter and the employer comes back to you with great news, they want to get you in for an interview. At this stage it’s all about preparation, if you’re going through an agency, they should be supplying you with everything you need before you step into that interview including the types of questions they’ll ask, the interviewer’s background, specific details around the history of the company, current projects etc.

As you don’t have experience other than potentially an internship it’s all about selling yourself. Through good preparation, it will allow you to ask relevant questions that relate to the company, role or individual and demonstrate credibility.

Best of luck!

Ollie Ballard is our leading Building Services Senior Consultant, with incredibly strong relationships with both his clients and candidates, he sees the potential in every connection. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.