Job search tips for recent graduates

Ireland’s jobs market remains a fiercely competitive place, with recruiters and hiring managers receiving a significant volume of applications from highly qualified and experienced candidates.

Fri, August 9th, 16:17


Consequently, upon leaving college, recent graduates can quickly discover that finding employment with limited to no previous work experience can be an uphill battle. As a result, graduates must endeavour to find new and creative ways to identify opportunities and demonstrate their talents and skills to prospective employers.

The following is a list of 5 tips to help a recent graduate improve their chances of finding employment.

Get a global perspective: When an employer is considering hiring a graduate, they are more inclined to select those who have had some international experience on their CV. I would strongly recommend to any student who has the opportunity to study abroad, even for a few months, to consider doing so. For example, if you’ve done an Erasmus year, you will usually be considered a more rounded candidate than those who haven’t. In addition, learning a second language will not only give you an insight into an entirely new culture, but will also present you with a world of new employment opportunities.

Attend industry relevant events: I cannot understate the enormous value you can derive from developing a strong professional network. I encourage all graduates to attend networking events, conferences and seminars relevant to their industry of interest. Graduate and recruitment fairs are also very beneficial and you will learn useful job search tips as well as meet employers and make new contacts. Be sure to keep up to date on the latest events held by The Dublin Chamber of Commerce. They regularly hold business conferences and breakfast briefings that are open to the public. These are ideal opportunities for you to expand your contacts base by making useful connections with influential people. You will also learn about the requirements of employers and the state of the jobs market.

Keep your expectations realistic: It is all too easy to become disillusioned at the idea that you may begin your career working for little or no money, particularly after studying hard for 4 years or more. Although this may feel frustrating, it is important to remember that few employers will take a chance on a candidate with no previous track record for a role that requires several years of industry experience. I recommend that you try to remain humble, the formative years of your career are the ones in which you will have to prove yourself the most in order to give yourself a platform for future success. Working for low wages or for free through internships for example is a great means of gaining real world practical experience. An intern who works hard and provides genuine value to the employer, may be rewarded with a permanent position within the company.

Upskill: Candidates are expected to possess a more diverse range of skills nowadays and I would advise that when applying for a new role, you not only market the skills required for that position, but also demonstrate your skills in other relevant areas. For example, if you have a background in IT, it can be advantageous or even a requirement for you to also have a grounding in business. Employers are impressed by a candidate who is willing to continuously improve themselves and go above and beyond the basic requirements of their job.

Dress to impress: The professional working world brings with it a range of conventions that recent graduates should try to familiarise themselves with. For example, at the interview stage it is important that you conduct yourself in a respectful and professional manner when dealing with a recruiter or hiring manager. In order to give a prospective employer the best possible impression of you, it is vital that you adhere to their office dress code and always arrive for the interview 10 to 15 minutes early. Tardiness will never be tolerated.

Siobhan Kinsella

The Irish Times