Recently we decided to abolish the option for unpaid internships to be advertised on our internships and jobs website Enternships. We did this because we felt that by removing this option, we would enable more young people to gain the necessary experience employers desired without them having to decide whether they could work for free or not and be chosen solely on their merit rather than personal financial situation to ensure fair access to all.
This means now that every person, no matter what socio-economic position they stand in society will be able to afford to undertake an internship as all roles will be paid. Great news right? Yes, but if you are currently on the hunt for a position this means that the competition has just got a little bit bigger!
With thousands of students graduating this summer I wanted to share three rules which you should and need to follow to insure that you rise above your peers and get your dream internship or secure your ideal graduate job.
Say No to "Spraying & Praying"
Time and time again we see graduates on Enternships using a scattergun approach and firing hundreds of CVs to every employer under the sun only stopping to make the brief sentence change here and there and sometimes even forgetting to change the name of the employers in cover letters - a sure shot to instant rejection.
This tactic simply does not work. In today's competitive jobs market you cannot afford to give potential employers blanket treatment because somebody out there will have done their research and that person is far more likely to get employed. You have to play smart, approach the job finding process like a scientific experiment. Break down exactly what the employer wants to the most minute detail. It is better to apply for five jobs in one day and get one interview than 20 and get none.
Focus On Brand You
If you are active on social media you are projecting an image of yourself which is open to employer scrutiny. This might sound Big Brotherish but it is true. I believe in the public-private divide but the reality is that employers will look up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and whatever other account they can find to get a better sense of who you are and what makes you tick. So with this in mind focus on how you turn this into a competitive advantage. Focus on 'Brand You'.
It's about marketing yourself, use social media to project an image which would enhance your career prospects. For example ask a lecturer if they can leave a positive reference on Linkedin or even better would be to start a blog sharing your passions; at the same time clean up any profanities you might have shared on Twitter in a moment of rage and ensure any of those drunken embarrassing photos on Facebook are in a Private folder only viewable by you and a select few of your choosing!
It's Who You Know
The third and final rule is nothing new, but it is something which people overlook time and time again. It is to make sure that you network, network, network (I would say it again but I do not want to bore you). Never have we lived in a time where this process has been easier to achieve. It requires time and hard work but by building a healthy and responsive personal network you will be far more likely to circumnavigate various stages of the recruitment process. A good reference from one boss to another could do wonders for you or a personal recommendation from an existing employee to an HR manager can get your application fast-tracked. Remember though that networking does not have to involve turning up to every business event and handing out business card like they're going out of fashion.
You can also network online through following people you want to reach out to on Twitter (in the hope they may follow you back) and kickstarting a conversation or sending messages to people you want to connect to on LinkedIn.
Be bold, be creative and standout.