9 graduate job-search myths: busted!


There are some common misconceptions about job-searching that I hear again and again.  Misconceptions that could seriously impact your chances of success if you take them at face value.  In this post I aim to help you by dispelling some of these myths.

1. I should apply for as many jobs as possible to increase my chances of success

AKA the ‘scattergun approach’. Surely it’s logical that if you apply for more vacancies, then you are more likely to get a job, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to job-search, think quality over quantity. Employers want to hire people who are passionate about their organisation and the specific post.  Take your time to identify the vacancies which really appeal to and excite you and focus your efforts on these.

2. All the best graduate jobs are in London

Whilst it is true that there are many graduate opportunities in the capital, and some sectors may be focused more here than in other areas in the UK, quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. There are thousands of great opportunities for graduates throughout the UK; as well as the multitude of opportunities with a whole range of organisations, many of the big recruiters offering graduate training schemes recruit graduates to their regional offices as well as their London offices. Our recent post on the best location for graduate jobs in the UK makes for interesting reading on this topic.

3. Graduate schemes are the only option if I want a good career

‘Graduate schemes’ or ‘graduate training schemes’ are commonly offered by large multi-nationals which may recruit numerous graduates – sometimes hundreds – each year. As these organisations recruit large numbers of graduates, they invest a lot of time and money in promoting their opportunities (and many of these organisations target Leeds University in particular). Because of this, it can seem like these are the only, or ‘best’ opportunities. The truth is that there are hundreds of different, equally exciting and high-quality opportunities out there if you look. See our recent post, Graduate jobs: It’s not all about the graduate schemes for ideas of where else to look for opportunities.

4. There’s no point applying for jobs at the moment – the market is just too competitive

There is a lot of hype in the media about how competitive the job market is, and how difficult it is, for young people in particular.  Such negativity means it is easy to feel disheartened and demotivated. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of opportunities out there. It is really important to try and stay motivated and go into it prepared; job searching is hard work and takes a lot of time and effort, but we are here to support you every step of the way. See our recent post on the graduate jobs market in 2013.

5. I can send the same CV for every application, as long as I adapt my covering letter

I cannot overemphasize how important it is to adapt and target your application (which includes both covering letter AND your CV) to each opportunity for which you apply. Recruiters will have a checklist (either an actual physical checklist, or a mental one) of what they are looking for, based on the person and job specification.  Particularly with CVs, but also with application forms, they are likely to be skimming through looking out for key words or phrases which match their criteria.  You have to make is as easy as possible for them to see that you have what they’re looking for. Consider the content, structure and format and key words and phrases when targeting your CV or an application. There is detailed guidance on writing CVs on our website – remember we can check your applications for you through our drop-in service.

6. Using online jobs-boards is the easiest way to find a job

Using online jobs boards may be the easiest and quickest way to find loads of job advertisements, but that is very different to getting an actual job offer. Consider the following points;

  1. The more widely an opportunity is advertised, the more applicants it is likely to attract
  2. Many jobs are not advertised at all or are not advertised widely

There are many, many different ways of finding jobs and you are more likely to be successful if you combine a variety of different approaches. We have loads of advice on this on our website.

7. I don’t have any contacts / a network

Using your network can be a great way of learning about some of those opportunities which are not widely advertised, don’t get advertised at all (see myth 6 above).  The most common concern I hear from students when I discuss networking with them is;

“I don’t know anyone or have any contacts in my sector of interest”

To this I say, “it doesn’t matter” and/ or “you’d be surprised”. I think people often struggle with the concept of networking as they only consider it in terms of people who they know directly who are already working or in the “professional sphere”. Whilst useful, this is not the extent of your network: your network is everyone you know (and potentially everyone that all those people know).

This point is perhaps best illustrated with an example.  I saw a student recently who was interested in exploring opportunities in marketing. As soon as we got onto the topic of networking she said she didn’t have any contacts or know anyone in the industry. I questioned a bit further and outlined some of the concepts of networking referred to above and it wasn’t long until she remembered that her housemates older brother works in marketing and could potentially help her out. Bingo.

So, before you dismiss your network, think again.  And talk to people you already know – you may be surprised at the ways they might be able to help you.  See our website for more information on networking.

8. I should put as much as I can on my CV – this way an employer will know about everything I’ve done and will be able to tell I have the right skills/ abilities/ experience

Whilst getting a range of experiences and skills to develop your CV is absolutely a good thing, you do not need to list absolutely everything you’ve ever done, in detail, on your CV.  Your CV is a flexible document which, as noted in point 5, it is up to you to adapt for each separate application.  Your job (as an applicant) is to make the recruiter’s job (in shortlisting applicants for interview) as easy as possible.  Be selective with what you include or highlight in your CV.

9. Undertaking further study will make me more employable

Not necessarily.  Whilst postgraduate or further professional qualifications may be an advantage, or even essential, for certain careers, this is not always the case.  There are many reasons for considering further study (of which careers-related reasons are just one). If this is the main reason you are considering post-graduate study, do your research first to find out if it is actually required, or a definite advantage, or whether that time may be better spent doing something else (such as gaining experience), before committing to a further qualification.

What do you think? Have you experienced any of the points above or got a different myth you think needs dispelling? Please add your comments below!

Remember, if you want any help or advice surrounding job searching, come in and talk to us.  

You may also be interested to see HECSU’s series of posts on graduate jobs myths which they’ve compiled through analysis of the statistics surrounding graduate employment.

1 Comment

Filed under Advice, CVs & Applications, Job Market, Networking, Postgraduate study, Work Experience

One response to “9 graduate job-search myths: busted!

  1. Well, this post makes me to remember the past when I’ve just graduated with many questions. I found that one of my mistakes is that I didn’t determine my goal before applying for the jobs. Thanks for nice sharing!

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