Almost half a million students graduated in the middle of this year’s pandemic. I just so happened to be one of them.
I don’t mind telling you that it was a little anti-climactic. No ceremony, no mortarboard toss, no awkward goodbyes — just an email with my results and best wishes for the future.
And what a future. The economic climate this year has been a bit of a stinker, obviously. Certainly not the best time to fly the feathered nest of university and start a career. And yet, we must. By rising to the occasion, the class of 2020 can hit the ground running.
Here’s how I beat a brutal job market and started my career, by living up to the Wildfire Values.
During applications, there is a powerful temptation to present yourself as something you are not. You want to be the candidate that ticks all the boxes and fits perfectly into a particular corporate jigsaw.
Resist this temptation — most of us are terrible actors and the recruiter will probably see through the façade. Even if, miraculously, you manage to play-act your way in, it’s hardly sustainable. You want to play this fictional character 24/7? Good luck.
Right now, inclusivity is the watchword. Your unique “you-ness” offers a valuable perspective. Be yourself.
This is a big one: know your audience. At the most basic level, this means specific, tailored cover letters and approaches. Don’t carpet bomb the labour market with general applications. Nobody likes that person.
Find out who you’re talking to and do your research on the company; I always had a cheat sheet at the ready in order to be the most informed candidate. Take it seriously — right now, your job is to learn; employment comes later.
Be interested, be interesting, be informed.
The problem for graduates right now is being seen; some entry-level roles have 500+ applicants. That isn’t a call to despair — it’s a call to action.
The application process is stuck in the last century, but there’s no reason for your approach to be. As well as jumping through the traditional hoops of a CV and cover letter, I built a website to showcase myself in the most authentic, original way possible.
The next step is to contact employers directly, whether vacancies are advertised or not. Be brave, make the introduction and get on their radar. You’re no longer one applicant among 500; you’re a real person with a flashy website and a foot in the door. Be bold.
There’s no reason to settle for mediocrity. Aim high, be ambitious and make it your mission to be the best candidate. If you keep these values foremost in your mind — leveraging your “you-ness”, your informed research and your boldness — then you will be an exceptional candidate.
Sounds great, right?
The catch is, you’ll still be rejected. But that’s okay. The exceptional candidate isn’t discouraged; they ask for feedback, they course correct, they keep moving forward.
Hold fast to these values and I guarantee you will find your place. Maybe even right here at Wildfire, where we measure ourselves against this very standard. Be exceptional.
Head over to our careers page and make a good impression.