How graduates can stand out in a tough economy

The unemployment rate rose again in the last quarter of 2011 and is now at its highest level since 1994. There are 28,000 unemployed in the UK, pushing the unemployment rate up to 8.4%.

With so many people unemployed, finding a job is becoming harder and harder, particularly for young people who lack the experience many jobs are demanding. Whilst you can’t compete with someone 10 years your senior that has wracked up much more experience, know-how and connections, you can compete with your fellow graduate. In fact, if you want to get the job you’re after you must compete with other graduates.

Reed currently has 10,002 graduate jobs UK wide listed on its website. The vast majority of these jobs are in education, sales and recruitment, but other smaller sectors are catered for too such as accountancy, energy, legal, manufacturing and digital and creative media. Graduate jobs UK are available; it’s just a matter of hunting down the right one and making sure it is you that gets it not some other recent graduate. So just how do you go about making yourself stand out from the crowd in a tough economy?

In most cases, to get an interview you need to stand out on paper and this is the tricky part for graduates. You might have a big personality, lots of drive and ambition and a quick mind, but unless you can prove it on paper, i.e. on your C.V. you won’t even get an interview, let alone a job.

Your C.V. at this stage of your career should be no longer than one page. It should detail what relevant experience you have for the role and how this experience makes you the right person for the job. Don’t include things that are irrelevant and don’t just write a list of tasks. Use bullet points to describe what you achieved and what you learned from each position and always relate this back to the role in hand.

If you are lacking relevant experience, get some. You don’t need to get paid employment to do so. What volunteering options are available? Can you get involved in a sports club? Can you demonstrate your skills in another way? For example if you want to become a journalist start your own blog; if you want to be a web designer build your own website.

Companies also want to see drive and initiative. Don’t just apply for open positions; send your C.V. to companies you want to work for. Track down people on Twitter and LinkedIn and if you can’t get paid employment ask if work experience placements are available.