During your final year of study, the realisation often hits that, come July, your educational years are over and you have to venture out into the ‘real’ world. Finding the time to apply for graduate jobs can be extremely daunting, especially alongside the increased workload that final year brings.
Application forms, cover letters, psychometric tests and interviews, job hunting is a time-consuming process to take on. Here at The Grad Hub we recently heard from recent graduate, Katie Oliver, who shares her top tips to help you keep on top of job applications alongside the workload of your final year at University.
Make use of a diary or tracking system
Keep yourself organised on application progress by using a diary or digital tracking system. Deadlines for applying often come thick and fast, meaning keeping track of these is vital to ensure you have enough time to complete the application to a high standard. Additionally, as you progress through the stages of a graduate job interview, there will be various deadlines you must meet to still be considered for the next stage.
Utilising a diary or creating your own digital tracking system on programmes like Microsoft Excel or Notion are great ways to stay organised. Being able to visualise the approaching deadline and the free time you have available to dedicate is a useful way to plan your schedule effectively and make sure you’re not having to pull an all-nighter to submit on time.
Another benefit to keeping tabs on applications is avoiding confusion in the job roles. There’s nothing worse than working hard to write a showstopping cover letter for your ideal position, only to realise it closed last week. As I said, deadlines often come in quick succession, so ensuring you know which role closes when is important to be able to prioritise.
Say ‘yes’ to job site notifications
Turn on email notifications from job sites for your desired role. Half of the job hunting process is trawling relevant websites looking for a position that ticks all of your boxes. If you have a good idea about which sector you would like to work within, or even a particular job title, make sure you create a saved custom search on job websites using the filters.
Once this is in place, you can opt to receive email notifications on a frequent basis if any new roles are posted fitting your requirements. Using this feature helps save a lot of time, something that is imperative to staying on top of your University workload whilst maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Only apply for roles you’re really striving for
In true student style it can be tempting to, as they say, throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks. But, applying for jobs that you are not set on or do not feel passionately about is detrimental in the long run. Yes, it is true that all interviews are worthwhile since they provide practice and experience. However, spending ample amounts of time writing job applications and preparing for an interview for a role you have no intention of taking is not time effective. Juggling a dissertation and job hunting is difficult enough as it is, so be sure to cut yourself some slack and only dedicate time to those positions you can envision yourself working in.
Craft a cover letter template
Another great tip that will undoubtedly help you a great deal during your graduate job search is formulating an ideal cover letter template. Crafting coherent cover letters that really engage with each company and job role is a time-consuming process. Since these are often the first thing employers see, you don’t want to find yourself rushing them and producing a lacklustre piece that offers no flow or appeal.
If possible, enlisting the help of your University careers team to help you structure the ‘perfect’ cover letter is a great way to ensure each application always hits the mark. Of course, these must be well tailored for each individual position but understanding the basic format of what should be included and where it best fits to maximise impact helps no end in making the process much quicker.
Don’t let job hunting consume your final year
If you are finding it difficult to stay on top of job applications whilst juggling the workload of final year, don’t be afraid to take a step back from the job market. Sometimes it’s better to focus on finishing your degree and hitting those imminent deadlines to the best of your ability. For sure it’s a nice feeling to have a secured position upon graduation. However, it’s much more important to receive your final degree results and feel happy that you gave it everything you had.
Remember, graduate jobs re-open their application process every year alongside an abundance of other entry level positions that recruit on a rolling basis. Although it might appear frustrating to have to wait a little longer to secure that post-University full-time job you’re seeking, it will all be worth it in the end.
A bit about Katie Oliver
Katie went to Aston University where she studied a degree in Psychology and Sociology, graduating in 2020 – minus the actual graduation due to the pandemic. During her degree, Katie undertook a placement year working as a Marketing and Research Assistant which highly developed her interest into the marketing sector and led her into her graduate role, where she now works as a Digital Marketing Exec for a B2C company. During her final year of University, Katie worked closely with the University Careers team to help and advise prospective placement students with their job searches and expectations – a highly rewarding job. Throughout she have always had a real passion for writing, combining that with her love for running led her to pursue a passion project of hers and set up an online blog focusing on all things running, fitness and graduate life.