Finalist call: Calm down!

Panicking about your career? Take a deep breath and read on, says Mike Barnard from Milkround Online

Are you panicking about your career? Take a deep breath and read on, says Mike Barnard of leading graduate recruitment website, Milkround Online.

In a poll on graduate recruitment website Milkround Online, 69 per cent of finalists are already on the hunt for a graduate job. But if you're not one of them, there's no reason to panic. But there's every reason to be proactive. There are career fairs and company presentations happening at your university right now. The majority of graduate employers open their application process in October with a closing date of December, so the perfect time to start is now!

Careers fairs and company presentations

When it comes to deciding where to apply, careers fairs and employer presentations on campus are the ideal places to get a feel for a firm in an informal way. If you're likely to have the chance to speak to an employer that appeals to you, be sure to prepare by researching them and seeing if there is any news on their website about current developments. Just typing the industry name into a search engine, perhaps with "careers" or "news", will bring up a host of resources.

You're always creating an impression of some sort at these events, just as you do at an interview. Be courteous and professional. Feel free to ask all the questions you have - the staff attending the events will be keen to help and should be happy to give you the answers that you need. This point is where your research will pay off. Aim to leave a fair with at least one application to follow up on, and any presentations with a name of a contact to make the next step on the road to a job.

Applying in 2011

Although many of the major recruiters will be looking for applicants this side of Christmas to fill up their graduate schemes, there will still be plenty of opportunities next year. Some schemes re-open, and therefore more vacancies become available. Look in newspapers, at websites and agencies, or find jobs on company websites. Don't rule out work experience, internships or placements, as these can be ideal ways to impress and earn your way into a permanent contract. If you are certain of the companies and roles that you want to work for, you can keep a close eye on the positions through looking at company websites and reading industry magazines.

Final note

It can be difficult finding work, but don't be disheartened by the knock backs. You can always ask a company for feedback on why you haven't been given a role. It's quite normal to attend several interviews before being hired. Stay positive, and keep trying.

Top job application tips

  • Research the company to which you're applying: there's nothing worse than an uninformed interviewee.

  • Tailor your CV to the job: recruiters hate generic CVs - they only want to know about the skills you have that are right for their role.
  • Follow up your application: checking that it's arrived safely shows enthusiasm.

  • Don't be afraid to call: if you have a question, even if you're just wondering when a recruitment decision will be made, pick up the phone - the answer could be vital.
  • Get feedback: whether you're hired or not, ask what appealed to the recruiter, and what didn't - it'll help you when you make your next application.