Graduating from University is one of the most exciting times in your career. You are full of knowledge and ready to implement that into your chosen industry. As well as exciting, it can be also utterly terrifying. Competing against thousands of other people for the perfect first job can be time-consuming, full of rejection and draining.
At FRAME Recruitment we speak to a lot of Graduates who have finished University and need advice on how to get their first job. Read our top tips for Graduates below to ensure you stand out from the crowd in your job search.
1. Make your CV stand out from the crowd
Before you do anything, you will need to create a CV. You might be wondering what the purpose of your CV is and why you need to look at this first. Simply put, it is made up of the Five I’s:
Introduce – who are you, how can I contact you?
Impress – what do I need to know about you that will make me want to see you?
Inform – back up your impressive experience with facts
Interest – what makes you different to everyone else?
Interview – make your CV secure the interview that you want
Your CV will be one of the first things a hiring manager will look at, so you will want it to be perfect.
As a Graduate one of the most important things you can do is use your personal interests to really sell yourself. Consider any personal interests that show transferrable skills and qualities that are important for the job. If the job asks for a team player, do you have a personal interest that shows you are a part of a team? Do they need someone with a passion for hotel design? All that travelling and photography you have done of beautifully designed hotels and restaurants will ensure you can show knowledge of different aspects and can talk through designs that have really impressed you.
2. Spend time perfecting your Portfolio
Creating a portfolio can seem really daunting and we experience many people who obviously have a passion and aptitude for creativity forgetting to make their Portfolio look attractive.
Make your portfolio interesting with a variety of images and explanations of your projects. We appreciate that you may not have a huge portfolio having only just graduated, but trust us; a case study of one project from initial concept ideas to completion, showing the design process and your ideas behind them, is so valuable.
Here is a quick Portfolio checklist but do read our ‘Portfolio Guide’ for more information on creating your best Portfolio:
Choose your best creative pieces
Ensure it is your own work
Pick your most recent designs
Clarify your software experience
Let your portfolio tell a story
Tailor your portfolio to the position
Contain some variety of creative e.g., hand sketches, various drawing packages as well as design examples
Remember this is a sample of your work – make sure your electronic portfolio is no bigger than 7MB
3. Understand your industry
As professionals in the Interior Design and Architecture sectors, we actively make sure we are up to date on the latest industry news and happenings. As a Graduate, you have a fresh take on things, with vibrant ideas, and it’s essential that you continue to research the industry that you are about to enter.
Always make sure that you have credible knowledge within your field. There are thousands of Interior Design and Architecture events in London and the best part, most of them are free. Attend as many as you can and build relationships with people, network and enjoy being in the world of Interior Design and Architecture.
4. Keep learning new skills
While you are job hunting, use the time to learn new skills within your field. Take time to learn new software or test yourself by creating a personal project within a sector you haven’t experienced. By constantly trying to widen your skill set, you will also be challenging yourself as well as making your application to a new position stronger. If your University course was focused on Vectorworks, have a look at AutoCAD, familiarise yourself with new software. You won’t become a guru overnight, but you will show an eagerness for learning and personal development.
5. Be prepared to go the extra mile
You must remember that you will be one of the thousands competing for a Graduate position within your field. Be prepared to go the extra mile with your application. Write a detailed cover letter supporting your CV and Portfolio, tailoring it to why you want to work for the company. Spend time on making your application stronger and making sure it stands out.
6. Don't apply for every job
It is important as a Graduate to consider your career and life goals and apply for jobs that match this. Don’t use a scattergun approach to job hunting. Many hiring managers will ask you about the type of jobs you have been applying for. They will respect you more and see your passion if you have picked jobs that match your experience and interests and are of similar a similar type.
7. Moving to London
A number of our clients are based in London and are usually looking to hire candidates who either live in London or who can easily commute. Many people say that if you are someone with the aspirations to work on the most famous projects, London is where you will need to be. Of course, there are practices that are working on exciting and career-fulfilling projects all over the country, but it is clear that London is a great location for Interior Designers and Architects to be.
There are many benefits to working in London including; job opportunities, career progression, training & education, events, networking and culture.
8. Take care with your social media
Your social media profile may be just as important as your CV if you are looking for your first job after University. According to our research, over 80% of employers and recruiters will use social media to either search for potential employees, or to ensure your online profile matches up to your CV.
LinkedIn is the king of professional networking and profiles. With over 500 million members it is the place to be when you are looking for a new job. You might assume that everyone has a professional LinkedIn profile and that they are selling themselves well, but as a recruitment business, we see an array of different profiles, good and bad. Here are some quick pointers for creating or improving your LinkedIn profile:
Sign up for LinkedIn if you have done so already – it is free and easy and you can do it here
Ensure you have a professional profile picture – this isn’t Facebook so you won’t impress potential employers with a picture from a ‘night out’
Add a headline that contains keywords such as Graduate or Interior Design or Architecture as this will be the first thing next to your name that people will see
Ensure your education, experience and training match up to your CV