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28th Jun 2018

Boost your career prospects with these expert tips

A careers expert gives us their top tips on how to advance your career

Reuben Pinder

Brought to you by Boost Energy.

Being unemployed is not enjoyable. Searching for jobs is not enjoyable. Sometimes it can feel like there are simply no jobs. None. Of course, there are jobs out there, you just need to know how to find the right one and nail the application process.

You might be the most qualified person for a position, but if you don’t know how to compose the ideal CV or write a good cover letter, you’ve got no chance. The company won’t know what they’re missing out on.

Luckily for you guys, we spoke to James Potten, Director of RED Academy, to find out the dos and don’ts of job hunting.

What advice would you give young graduates looking for work?

James: Get out there and explore. Ideally, you should go along to networking events, free workshops and sampler evenings to get a feel for what the day-to-day job entails, meet people already working in the sector and build connections. Going the extra mile and making contacts beyond the recruitment fairs at university and Googling ‘the top 50 companies to work for’ in your chosen sector will be extremely beneficial.

Gaining work experience will help you stand out from the crowd. Try to shadow someone, take on a passion project, find an internship or course that offers real-world experience and projects.

Also, don’t fret if you haven’t found your dream job two months after graduating. Think about your priorities right now. By being proactive and exploring your options, you should then be able to narrow this down and pick what may be best suited to you.

What is the best way to write a cover letter?

James: When drafting your cover letter, be clear and concise and personal, add a little extra detail about yourself and how that could translate into your role.

A cover letter is also a two-way street. View it as a way to really showcase why you want to work for the company, and what value you can bring to them. Short sentences which highlight two or three examples of your relevant experience is ideal – don’t simply repeat your CV!

What are the key things to remember when attending a job interview?

James: When attending a job interview, it’s important to remain calm and be yourself. Think of an interview as a chance to showcase yourself but also a chance for you to check out the company; after all, they need you as much as you need them!

Preparation is key. Research the company, look at the job description and work out what the role would entail and then match your expertise and experience. Think about the questions and don’t be afraid to ask for a second to have a think. Practice your responses and answers to certain scenarios but be prepared to alter this accordingly. Finally and most importantly, always be yourself, don’t pretend to be someone else because it will eventually come out, whether that’s later in the interview or later in the job.

How should you go about asking for a pay rise?

James: If you’re looking for a pay rise you need to think why deserve a pay rise and pitch these, rather than just demanding more money. Are you willing to take on extra responsibility? Have you taken this on already? How have you showed initiative in your role?

It’s also often better to approach this as a promotion rather than a pay rise, the chances of your employer giving you more money for the same job are slim, but if you explain you’re ready for a more senior position you have more chance of succeeding.

What aspects of a job should graduates prioritise when deciding which jobs to apply for?

When you’re looking for a job, it’s important to consider a number of factors. Money can be extremely tempting, but if you’re also slaving in the office for 60 hours a week, is the salary worth it? In my opinion, I enjoy work which has a social purpose to it.

It’s key to evaluate what’s most important to you – whether that’s job satisfaction, salary, culture, fulfilment or other. This isn’t a decision anyone else can make, it’s something you have to decide for yourself. After doing this, you’ll be able to get into the career that you really want!

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