We get a lot of graduate applications sent to us, many of which struggle to stand out from the crowd so we decided to put together some tips for landing the kind of graduate opportunity which will deliver the experience and growth that you're looking for.
Picture the scene. Three years of hard graft, a lovely graduation ceremony, champagne, throwing up your mortar boards (assuming you ignored the health & safety 'advice'), Mum and Dad have never been prouder etc. and it seems like it’s all been worth it. But now what? You haven’t had time to do any work experience between skipping lectures for the pub and handing in mountains of coursework you’d stayed up for 48 hours straight to write. Or, perhaps more justifiably, there’s the fact that work experience is usually unpaid and we all like to earn money for work so use our time on part time jobs instead.
So you have a degree but somewhere between zero and a bit of experience. The first thing to remember at this point is that companies like us are looking for 'people' to invest in - and you've got that bit nailed yeah? So show us! Here's some tips on how you might do that:
- Your CV. (Surprising eh?) It’s your best chance at a first impression so make it stand out! It never fails to amaze me the sheer amount of dross which comes through for every single job we advertise. Yes, you have a good degree and yes you ‘give 110%’, yes, you can ‘work well individually or as part of a team’ but guess what? So can everybody else. Stop using tired clichés and make yourself stand out. I don’t care how you do it, say something entertaining, write a funny anecdote (which still shows me why you’re best for the job) it doesn’t matter. For instance, I’m currently recruiting for a role and I have numerous graduate CVs in a file on my desktop, and half of them I can’t tell one apart from the other because there was nothing which captivated me. We've heard from some recent graduates that they were actually advised not to worry about the 'other interests' section at the end of the CV. That is terrible advice! Remember that thing about 'people'? Well this is your chance to show you are the kind of interesting person we want to have about the place and that can actually engage with our clients. I know for a fact that when a stack of CVs go to my director he'll look at the type of degree and the grade and then flip straight to the end to see the other interests. Because he 'really hates employing boring people'.
- Learn about the company. Your CV might be about you but your cover letter is all about what would make you an amazing fit in the new workplace. Naturally this involves some research, even just a cursory glance at the website will help you understand what the company is about, what they do and their values. Try to form an opinion not just about what the company does, but how they aspire to go about it and how you're a great fit with that. On a side note, two of our most recent additions to the team talked themselves into positions by calling – this shows you’re keen and proactive and is a brilliant idea if you’re genuinely interested.
- We can't account for other companies, but if you get an interview at EPS, be ready for the fact that we're going to interested in 'you'. If we didn't think you had the basic skills to do the job you wouldn't have got an interview, so now it comes down to convincing us that you have the personality and drive to be part of our team. So yes, we'll be talking about what you know and have done, but your CV has already covered the facts - we're going to be more interested what you enjoyed and what you didn't. Have and offer an opinion, whether that's on your preference to geotechnical to environmental or the kind of music you're into - you don't have to like everything! And ask questions back - all the best interviews are two way conversations. Yes, you're going to be a bit nervous about the whole experience, that's natural, but if you can be engaging you'll get more out of it. Remember, you are interviewing us too!
- Learn to drive. In our industry this is one of the most important things you can do since more often than not you’ll have to travel around the country doing various jobs. It’s astounding the number of people who we think would be perfect and then have to write off because they don’t drive – in the Earth Sciences this can be almost as important as any qualification you’ve ever done because if you can’t drive one of our vans full of equipment to a site in the middle of nowhere on a drizzly day then you're falling short on the basic usefulness stakes. Let’s face it, from our point of view, driving is a pretty common skill and represents the means by which we can get you the varied site experience that it so important for you to progress, so you’re pretty much a non-starter if you can’t do it and we won’t get chance to find out what an amazing person you are.
Don’t forget, we're always on the lookout for awesome new talent to come work with us, even if we’re not advertising, so send over your CV to email@example.com – after you’ve made sure you’ve followed the above points of course!