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Top 10 Tips to Land Your Dream Graduate Job on the Isle of Man

Deciding what to do when you finish your degree can be extremely challenging. You have spent three to five years (or possibly more) honing the transferable or technical skills you will need in the work place, but the final hurdle of applications and interviews can be a stressful time and is fraught with pitfalls. The right techniques are vital to impress potential employers and ensure you land the job opportunity you really want.

With many graduate opportunities on the Island, we have compiled 10 top tips, based on the experiences from the experts at the Isle of Man JobCentre, to help you market yourself and begin a successful career on the Island.

1. Keep an open mind

It is possible you have not yet fully formed the idea of your dream job. The labour market is always changing which means careers advisors and human resource professionals are beginning to change the way they use the term 'career planning'.

Most people who have already established their 'career' have taken a number of different steps that got them to their current destination. It is unlikely the perfect opportunity will land in your lap and what seems the perfect opportunity now, may change as you grow older or your life circumstance change the expectations you have of a career. Do not be afraid to expand your choices and keep an open mind based on what is available to you now. Think in terms of building skills and experience and try to predict what your future self will want to do.

2. Be honest with yourself

Keeping an open mind is crucial to ensure that you keep moving forward and do not get stuck into a negative cycle when searching for opportunities. To ensure that you enjoy your work, stay motivated and strive to do your best, you'll need to understand yourself.

Choosing a career that suits your strengths straight away will also help you to avoid a potentially stressful career switch further down the line. If you don't know where to begin, take a step back and consider the following questions as a starting point:

  • What are the factors that make up a job you'd love to do?
  • What are your main strengths?
  • What are your interests, motivations and work-related values?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want?

Understanding your strengths, motivators and what makes you happy will help you to be more prepared and confident when searching for opportunities and talking about yourself in an interview.

3. Don't forget your transferable skills

Your key employability skills are developed over the course of your education, work experiences, personal interests and hobbies. Most employers will be seeking a graduate who can prove their worth through transferable skills which can be used in all types of industries.
Some of the key skills that are sought by graduate recruiters are:

  • Flexibility: Impress employers by proving that you can take on new tasks at short notice,
  • Resilience: Prove you can stay focused when plans or priorities change.
  • Organisation: Some graduate roles require you to manage yourself, your resources and your colleagues effectively. Demonstrate to employers that you can plan to deadlines, organise the required resources and prioritise tasks logically.
  • Analytical thinking: Such qualities can be developed naturally during the essay-writing process or in roles that require the analysis and manipulation of large data sets.
  • A great way to track whether you have the skills you need is to conduct a skills audit. Draw up a table that includes the skills required for the jobs you want, a description of the skill, evidence of when you've demonstrated that skill, and your progress in achieving that skill. This will enable you to identify where you might have gaps in your knowledge and create a strategy to fill those skill gaps.

If the job opportunities are not directly related to your degree do not box yourself in to one type of sector or job, think about the role and yourself in terms of the skills you have developed.

4. Make the most of who you know

As a Manx graduate/undergraduate you have an advantage you may not even know about. The Isle of Man is an extremely connected place where the power of word of mouth is not to be underestimated. Try speaking to family and friends to gain an insight into the different types of sectors and industries here on the island. The Isle of Man needs skilled workers in engineering and manufacturing, financial and professional services, teaching, healthcare and ICT. A relevant degree can be an advantage.

While you may approach networking as an opportunity to gather information, it can lead to opportunities for work experience. Do not be afraid to set up meetings through introduced contacts. They show you are motivated and serious about finding a job and may lead to a tip off for a vacancy which is about to be advertised or a hidden vacancy which hasn't been advertised through formal recruitment channels.

Some larger employers here on the island organise open days for graduates which can provide insight into the company their recruitment processes. Attend as many of these types of events as possible. A great place to find out about events is the news and events section on the employed.im.

5. Welcome opportunities for experience

Competition is fierce when it comes to graduate positions, which means having a degree alone is not quite enough for some employers.

Employers have high expectations. They want to employ the best candidates so their businesses can thrive. Recruitment is expensive, so an employer will want to make sure they do it right first time.

Make sure you use your time at university to gain experience in different types of businesses. Volunteering can be a great way to enhance your skills and experiences. A part time job can help you to develop examples of the real world of work and full time holiday jobs or employment schemes will give you insight into the everyday realities of the workplace. Do not forget to make a note of the types of skills you are using in these roles. This can be helpful when filling in competency based applications at a later date.

Experimenting in different sectors broadens your experience. You may also find an affinity for a previously unknown career path.

6. Cultivate your online persona

Don't rule out LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for networking opportunities.

Make sure to clean up all of your social media profiles and check your privacy settings. Potential employers will often look at publically available social and professional profiles so ensure you represent yourself in the most positive light.

If you have work experience, do not be afraid to add people you have met to your professional network on LinkedIn. However, do not be offended if people you meet through work do not accept your requests on social media. Different people and organisations have different rules for their social media use.

7. Tailor your CV for every application

Beyond acting as a record of employment and work experience, your CV should contain your skills and your greatest achievements.

  • The key to a good CV is simple: ensure that it's tailored to the job you are applying for. Employers can sometimes receive hundreds of applications for just one role. An employer with a pile of CVs to sift may have 30 seconds to form an opinion of the candidate's interests and skills, then match those skills to vacancy.
  • Your CV should be as unique as you as are so consider how you describe yourself. Employers will expect you to be hardworking and reliable as a matter of course, but what will make you stand out? Your CV should represent the best version of yourself, highlighting your key achievements. Remember, do not be tempted to lie as this could have consequences at a later date.
  • Prepare a master copy of your CV that includes all of your skills, achievements and experiences for your reference only; adapt this copy each time you apply for a new position.
  • Make sure you read all materials accompanying an application. Most will explain the skills and competencies required. Ensure your CV reflects those skills and do not be afraid to really spell it out for the employer.

8. Be thorough in your search

  • Sign up with local recruitment agencies and the JobCentre.
  • Check the local press, JobCentre and register with recruitment agencies. If you are not based on the Island, ask friends or family to be your spotter in the local press job vacancy pages.
  • Be quick to respond to advertised vacancies.
  • Be pro-active. A large percentage of vacancies are not advertised through the formal channels.
  • Make speculative applications to industries you are interested in working within.
  • Check company social media pages and general job vacancy forums.
  • Check careers sections or "work with us" pages on employer websites. If you are unsure if your skills fit the position perfectly but like the role, take a risk and apply anyway. Skills shortages in certain areas could mean that the employer may give you the benefit of the doubt or hold your application on file for future opportunities.
  • Stay positive. You only need one company to say yes.
  • Once you become aware of a vacancy do not waste any time. In some cases companies may close applications early if they receive significant numbers of applications.
  • Telephone a potential employer before you apply to gather more information about the role. This will enable you to target your CV and demonstrate your skills. 

9. Always prepare for interviews

Getting to the interview stage for any application is a great success. You have demonstrated in your CV the potential to do the job. It is now up to you to drive that message home.

Interviews can be conducted in a variety of formats. This very much depends on any given company's recruitment procedure. Interviews may take place via:

  • Telephone,
  • Video conference (eg. Skype, Facetime),
  • In person
  • Assessment Centre

Research the company and the interview format beforehand. Understanding the company (eg. its values, sector, history, recent achievements) and the type of interview is a great technique to help control any unwelcome nerves and demonstrates a motivated approach.

Prepare for standard interview questions by practising with a trusted friend or family member. Think of your skills and prepare answers to provide the employer with solid examples around team working, communication, using ICT, organisation and resilience. Most importantly smile, be yourself, convey enthusiasm and a positive outlook.

10. Keep positive and follow up

It can be a challenge, but try to stay motivated throughout your job hunt. Monitor which companies and positions you've applied to and the status of each application.

Tracking is especially important for follow up. If you have applied and heard nothing from an employer or were interviewed and are waiting for a decision, you will need to keep track of that information so you can make a follow up phone call or send an e-mail. This demonstrates you are serious and motivated about the role for which you have applied.

If you are unsuccessful at any point, do not forget to ask for feedback. Email or telephone the company thanking them for their time and ask what you could have done differently. Find out from the employer where they felt your weaknesses were so that you can improve for next time. Treat each interview as a new learning experience. Try not to take constructive criticism personally. This feedback will help you fill any gaps in your skills and enable you to shine for the right employer.

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