9 ways to give yourself an edge after graduating

When we graduate from school or tertiary studies, all of a sudden we’re one of a million tiny, little fish in an enormous pond. Check out some tips to help you stand out and give yourself an edge when you start applying for jobs.

workexperience

1. Volunteer/intern

Truth is, volunteering or interning are two of the most useful and beneficial things you can do before graduation. Not only do you get really valuable experience and an introduction to the professional world, but you can figure out the kinds of things that you’re interested in. There are also a lot of organisations that rely on volunteers to function, so you might just be contributing more than you realise. Even if it is sometimes hard to grapple with the concept: 

2. Don’t limit yourself

Get involved with as many different types of things as you can. We have the tendency to put ourselves into a box and think of ourselves in a certain way. We might think of ourselves as a ‘science and maths’ kind of person, or as more of a ‘music and arts’ kind of person. Why can’t we be both?

3. Digital skills

More and more jobs are coming to rely on technology in their day to day business. That includes basic skills like MS Office, but also use of excel, social media, and all those other handy programs.  If you can brush up on your technological skills before graduation you’ll be giving yourself that extra edge over other job applicants. Even if tech isn’t your thing, stick at it, like this guy:

animation of a guy sitting at his computer looking confused

4. Work experience

Some people are really excited to get their first paid job, and some people dread the idea. Whichever category you belong to, it’s a good idea to get as much paid work experience as you can. Not only will you have a bit of spare pocket money, but you’ll learn some really important professional skills and be able to fill our your CV a bit more. Each state in Australia has different laws concerning the legal age to start work. Have a look at the laws in your state.

5. Write a great CV

And this includes a cover letter. Before graduation, have a chat to your careers adviser or a teacher to get more info on how to go about doing this, and all of the things that you should cover. A great CV is a great start to impressing the pants off of your interviewer. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Black cat with eyes wide open saying 'I really would prefer that you keep your pants on.'

6. Interview tips

Our first job interview will probably be one of the more terrifying things we ever do. Try to remember that your interviewer is just another person and they want to fill the job just as much as you want the job. Be honest, be yourself and you’ll be fine. Check out some info and tips that will help to put your mind at ease. Be confident in your skills but try not to toot your own horn too much:

Man responding to 'what is your worth flaw?' with 'I am too awesome.'

7. Have a chat to a careers adviser

A careers adviser from your school or uni will be able to help you choose which jobs to apply for, provide advice on how to improve your CV and help you polish up on your interview skills. You might also find it helpful just to have someone to talk things through with as your graduation approaches.  

Ms. Perky is thanked for her excellent guidance

8. Grab reference letters

You can ask teachers you have a good relationship with to write you a reference letter. Reference letters are a great thing to have and to hold onto, so that you can whip them out whenever you need to. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy reading warm and fuzzy letters about themselves? 

9. Get started now

No procrastinating. The time for graduation will come around whether you want it to or not. The Internet and your favourite TV show will still be here when you get back.
Last reviewed: 12 August, 2015
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