As we kicked off the New Year, prospective graduates are now preparing for the next chapter of their lives; which is to get their careers off the ground. This involves deliberating on whether to go into self-employment, doing an internship or securing full-time employment.
The transition from campus and into the workplace requires extensive preparations. Don’t underestimate the ground work that you need to do, both from a mental and practical point of view. It starts with the seemingly obvious wardrobe overhaul right down to articulating your value proposition to your prospective employer. All of this can be quite overwhelming for new graduates.
For this reason, the onus is on you to lay the necessary foundations to make a good first impression as you build your career. Companies look for candidates who stand out amongst the crowd and if a graduate puts in the effort to help set them apart from their peers, it is likely to yield positive results.
Young graduate professionals are offered the following points in preparation for this new phase of their lives.
The value of work experience as a student
Building your work profile during your student years means that you can acquire fundamental skills along the way. Whether you found part-time employment as a tutor or store assistant, the experience can be invaluable as you learn how to establish professional relationships and hopefully build a reputable track-record.
Have a well-written CV
It is essential to have a well-constructed and concise CV. Your CV, which should always be accompanied by a cover letter, is a potential employer’s first point of contact with you and should position you appropriately. The information should be current and applicable to the role you are applying for, while amplifying your personal strengths and unique characteristics. Apart from documenting critical personal details, the record should only include accurate information about your educational background & qualifications, previous work experience and references.
Equip yourself with basic skills
Being competent in basic skills such as computer literacy, communication (verbal and oral), time management, problem solving and teamwork is important. It is equally important to ensure that you are able to validate these claims with evidence. Graduates need to consider that companies may not have the capacity to teach new staff skills that they often consider as basic and a prerequisite.
Visit your on-campus career centre
Most universities and technikons offer free career guidance and counselling on-campus through their Careers centres. They often have highly experienced staff that can facilitate counselling, career guidance and assessment sessions, and provide valuable insights on preparing for interviews as well as other important recruitment factors one needs to consider.
Update your online profiles
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the some of the most common platforms that some companies use to conduct background checks on potential candidates. Always ensure your online profiles are updated accordingly and free of any unsavoury information that may compromise you.
Be conscious of the content you share on these platforms as it can backfire and damage your reputation when on the job-search. When used correctly LinkedIn or Who’s Who SA, which are aimed at professionals, allow one to create, manage and grow their personal brand and reputation. These online platforms enable professional connections with other professionals and can also match potential job opportunities aligned to your profile.
Vuyo Kobokoane is the Executive Head at PPS Foundation.