It’s not quite as easy as you think.

So, you’ve studied hard for many years to get through your degree and come out the other side with your gown and certificate and then it’s the real beginning… You need to get a job!

Now there are many graduates who have a clear plan in their mind and have a job secured early and can relax towards the end of their degree knowing that they have a plan. Phew!

But, the majority of University students are gearing up for exams, dissertation hand in deadlines and project completion, all with that looming thought in the back of their minds – ‘what am I going to do next?’

We meet many graduates between January and the end of the academic year and the advice we give is the same and quite simple – get prepared and start the process as soon as you can. We are now speaking to students the year before they finish to get their brains ticking even earlier again – many companies are taking on graduates in September / October! It gets earlier and earlier each year.

Developing your graduate employability skills is critical.

What is clear is that we have some exceptionally talented graduates leaving university in the UK with intelligence, technical knowledge, a breadth of deep understanding about their particular area of expertise and a fairly good idea that they want to use all those things in their first post university job asap!

What I would say is more often the case, is that these talented individuals lack in the ability to present themselves, sell themselves and battle it out in a very competitive candidate driven marketplace.

Being able to articulate your very best attributes is not as easy as it sounds. And given that for the jobs which you’re applying to – a good degree grade is the basic requirement for being shortlisted for the job – a lot depends on you as a person and how you come across on your CV and at interview.

What makes you stand out from your graduate competition?  How will you articulate that in your CV, covering letter and at interview?

Things to consider or research:

Volunteering experience, networking opportunities that you have taken up and persisted with, work experience and the feedback / references you have gained from that, skills that you have gained from sports teams, hobbies, group work or extra-curricular activities, mentoring you have been a part of, leadership skills gained, life experience… And so on.

It’s the skills that you have been gathering while you have been busy developing the subject knowledge required for your degree. It’s the things that have shaped your personality and enhanced your values and grown your network that will go a long way to making you stand out when you’re applying for grad jobs.

I guess ultimately – you are aiming to present yourself as a ‘complete package’, over and above being a graduate. It’s worth thinking about these things and preparing as early as possible to secure your first steps on the career ladder in style.