How different do you think applying for jobs is today compared to when your parents were sending off CVs in the hope of securing their first post-uni jobs? Surely not that much has changed in the last few decades when it comes to job applications? Well, apart from the fact that your parents might have had to rely on job listings in the newspaper and snail mail to send off their CVs, the overall format of applying for jobs follows a similar pattern. That said, there are some key differences in terms of the approach job applicants must adopt in order for them to adapt to the current job market.
A more competitive job market has forced today’s applicants to change their approach to job hunting
The job market of today is much more crowded than that of twenty or thirty years ago. For one, there are many more applicants per position, many of which now hold university degrees. Not only that, but you’re up against applicants from all over the world and many will have taken an employability course to improve their chances. Employers today can afford to be much choosier when selecting job candidates than those of the 70s and 80s. This is quite different to your parents, who might have all but sailed into a job so long as they held a degree. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability to plan a brilliant career. All it takes is an understanding of today’s job market challenges and how to overcome them.
Things are less formal today, but professionalism is still required when applying for jobs
Back in your parents’ day, turning up to an interview with a briefcase and a freshly pressed suit would have been the norm—regardless of whether they were applying for a position at a mechanics or a bank. And terms of address would have been more formal too—in spoken and written correspondence. Today, you probably wouldn’t begin an email with ‘Dear Sir’ or wear a three-piece suit for an interview at a design agency, but that doesn’t mean you can or should be overly familiar or not put effort into your appearance. It’s better to err on the side of too formal when dressing for an interview than turning up dressed too casually. If you’re unsure, ask your interviewer about any dress codes they expect of interviewees.
Thanks to job sites, social networks, and alumni associations, networking has become an integral part of job hunting
Your parents probably had far fewer means of searching for jobs than you do. The job sites and forums, social media networks and alumni associations have opened up many channels through which to find work—which is a blessing, but it also means today’s job applicants need to invest a lot more time and energy into networking if they’re to find and secure a decent job. Why? Because you can bet that the other 10 (or more!) applicants vying for the same position as you, are also investing in networking too. Seek out people who work, or have worked, in your industry of choice. This is fantastic for research in preparation for interviews and will introduce you to people offering further job opportunities.
Having a university degree is only the first step towards forging a career
Thirty years ago, having a degree was enough to secure you a job that might begin a career spanning decades. Today’s job market is quite different. Having a degree is no longer seen as a golden ticket into any job you fancy, but a given. Stellar grades and the glittering reputation of your university are nice to have on your CV, but definitely not a free pass into that dream job. Many of today’s graduates find themselves underemployed and working in jobs that don’t require a university education. So what does it take to get onto the career ladder? Employers want to see strong evidence of soft skills—like communication, leadership, analytical and team working skills —and self-awareness, relevant work experience and a dedication to your own career path.
The responsibility for developing the transferable teamworking skills employers are looking for in ideal job candidates falls on you, the job seeker. An employability course taken alongside your core degree can set you on the right track to cultivate the attributes that will get prospective bosses taking notice of you above other candidates. Download our guide for more information on what these skills are and how our Industry Engagement Programme can help you get the best start in your career.