Calling all grads – 6 tips to help you land your first job

Having run our second grad recruitment day at Day One, we felt obliged to write this article to help young adults leaving school/university who may be struggling to land their dream job.

It’s not rocket science; just a few small changes to how you prepare and what you do on the day could make a huge difference. We hope this is helpful.

  1. Do your homework – as obvious as it sounds, it’s amazing how few people look at our website or social media posts before turning up for an interview. If you say “I looked at your website and I noticed you use three words to describe yourself and so here are my three words…”, or you bring some of the content of one of our podcasts into the conversation you are definitely going to score brownie points.

  2. Let your personality shine through – we recently had a grad who I could tell within the first 10 minutes had a witty sense of humour. This made me think he could use it to connect with people, but it also made me see the ‘real person’ behind the interviewee façade. That aside, who doesn’t want to work with someone who can make you smile.

  3. Don’t worry if you mess up – remember that it’s not the mistake you make but how you recover that matters. Use the mistake to show how you can pull the situation back to your advantage as that shows you can think on your feet, and you don’t give up at the first hurdle.

  4. Step forward in the group activities – Seriously, what have you got to lose by putting yourself out there a bit and saying what you think even if it goes against the rest of the group. Having said that there is nothing as off-putting as someone who does not let others speak or speaks too much. The trick is to be politely confident and to make sure you say enough to get noticed whilst not speaking over others.

  5. Say what makes you different – if you’ve done something interesting make sure you tell the interviewer about it as they may not know to ask. Remember, the interviewer wants to find a hook they can latch on to help get to know you better so make sure you help them out.

  6. Drop the teenage ‘filler phrases’ – if you say ‘know what I mean’, ‘like’, ‘and stuff like that’, ‘so like’, ‘does that make sense’ etc. after every sentence that is all the interviewer will hear. It’s off-putting and can undo any hard work you have put into preparing your responses. Practice interviewing with someone and tell them to point out every time you use a ‘filler phrase’ so you know how often you are doing it and can be more aware how you come across.

That’s it for now – small but important details that some school/uni leavers may not realise are costing them a job. Regardless of the above, if you go to an assessment day and don’t get picked then do not give up. Use it as a practice run and learn from others in the room – who would you have employed and why? What did they do that was impressive? If you listen to the feedback and do the basics outlined above it will only be a matter of time before you take the first step in your career. Good luck!

Hannah Mann Founding Partner, Day One Strategy