Job Search Mistakes Every Graduate Should Avoid

After years of juggling deadlines, pulling all-nighters, and the rush of adrenaline as you find out your results, it can be a great relief when it finally comes to an end. That’s until you realise you need a job to pay off your student debt. Navigating the job market as a fresh graduate can be intimidating, and most job hunters face the same common mistakes that cost them tons of time and money.

Fortunately, we’ve done the digging for you and are here to provide you with some strategic job search advice. We will be covering some common mistakes graduates make that put extra weight on their shoulders in an already stressful situation.

Is It Difficult To Get A Job As A Graduate In The UK?

With pandemics and looming recessions, job opportunities seem to be snatched up quicker than ever. However, graduates will be pleased to know that there is no shortage of graduate jobs, so it all comes down to your ability to perform in the application process.

In fact, data shows that at the end of 2020, there were 15 million people holding degrees or equivalent qualifications that were working in the UK. During this time, there were 16 million graduate vacancies. This means there is actually a shortage of qualified graduates in the current job market.

And to add the cherry on top, graduate vacancies have increased by 20% compared to before the pandemic, with graduates having an employment rate of a surprisingly high 86.7%! 

What Are Some Common Mistakes You Should Avoid?

While each subject and degree will differ when it comes to applying for job positions, as well as the job strategy you use, there are some strategies and mistakes that span across all industries. Here are some common mistakes to avoid as a graduate looking to ace the application process.

1. Not Paying Attention To Recruitment Periods

With your final exams just around the corner along with tight coursework deadlines, the last thing you want to think about is preparing job applications. However, it’s never too early to be looking at job vacancies, even before you graduate.

A lot of companies allow you to apply for jobs before you get your final degree result. ‘The early bird gets the worm’ could not be truer when it comes to graduate job searching!

So when should you start searching and applying for jobs? Ideally you want a graduate job lined up so that you can start working the minute you graduate. That way you’re much further ahead than 99% of people who have to face the struggle of living on a tight budget after graduating.

Usually recruitment periods start in the autumn before graduation. So for students graduating in the summer of 2023, this would be the autumn of 2022. While you can still apply for jobs in the summer you graduate, a lot of good vacancies will be snapped up by then so it’s best to get in early.


2. Not Tailoring Your CV And Cover Letter To The Particular Role

When you’re applying for similar jobs, it’s very tempting to copy and paste everything to save time. However, recruiters can always tell when this has been done. It will give the impression that you’re not keen on the job or the company you’re applying to.

Search the role you are applying to thoroughly, and tailor your work experience and projects to the specific role. Adding that level of personalisation as well as improving your application as you go along will have a significant impact on your chances of getting hired.


3. Not Taking Advantage Of Careers Fairs

A lot of companies these days set up careers fairs at universities to attract potential graduates. These are invaluable compared to online job searching for several reasons. Firstly, showing up in person shows that you are keen to learn about the company and the roles they offer.

Secondly, you will always learn new information about the company that you may not find online. Usually, a lot of job vacancies online have generic job descriptions that might not tell you precisely what they are looking for.

At career fairs, you may get to talk to past graduates currently working there and who have gone through the interviews and assessment centres. You will get an idea of what qualities the company looks for, and emphasise relevant experience and modules based on that.

4. Stating Generic Facts And Statistics About The Company In Interviews

This is a common thing a lot of job applicants might do, because they think it shows that they’ve researched the company. While it’s good to know which year the company was founded in and the name of the founders, this is basic information that doesn’t tell recruiters much about you.

Anyone can regurgitate facts and figures they found online. So it’s better to focus on facts that are specific to your department and your role.

The common theme here is adding specificity and personalisation to your application. It could be argued these two factors are the most important thing when it comes to showing your interest in a job.


5. Mistakes On Your CV Or Cover Letter

Your CV and cover letter is the only thing recruiters can judge you on. So if there are mistakes on them, it shows that you are not serious about the job you’re applying for. These could be spelling or grammatical errors, or errors related to your skills and experience.

Not only should you have an in-depth read through your CV and cover letter, but get multiple people to check it through for any errors that might go unnoticed.

6. Applying For Too Little Or Too Many Jobs

With so many vacancies, it’s tempting to feel anxious and click the submit button far too many times. However, crafting a good application takes time and effort. Applying for too many jobs will most likely compromise the quality of your applications, which can ultimately cost you the quality that goes into a good application.

Alternatively, some people also apply to too few jobs because they want to only apply for those that correspond exactly to the skills and experience they have. Doing this may cost you an opportunity that you were eligible for in the first place.

It is important to keep in mind that job vacancies often have generic job descriptions that can fit a lot of skills and experience. So companies may consider good alternatives for their listed requirements. For example, a company that asks for a ‘degree in electrical engineering’ may consider those with adjacent engineering degrees such as mechanical if they have the relevant experience. So it doesn’t hurt to email them and ask if you would qualify.

To sum up, it’s never too early to start looking for graduate jobs, even before you graduate. Doing so means you will likely make less mistakes and have better job options available to you. Attend open days and careers fairs when you can, as this will provide you invaluable information that helps you tailor your application to the exact role and company you apply for.

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