5 Questions Every Graduate Should Ask Before They Apply For A Job

Applying for, interviewing for and securing the wrong job is time consuming for both your employer and for you! Don’t be caught up in the climate of graduate fear and apply to anything and everything you cast your eyes upon. Instead, apply for a handful of carefully chosen jobs.

Ask yourself these essential questions first:

1. Do I really want to work for this company?

Company culture is a HUGE factor when it comes to enjoying your job, and it’s something that’s often over-looked by job seekers. Before you hit ‘APPLY’ you need to have done your research into what a company is really like to work for.

Can you see any profiles or videos of people who you are in your department? Do they seem like the type of people you’d like to work with on a day to day basis?

Does the company have a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture? Is this what you want? Are they corporate and professional, or relaxed and casual? Which sort of environment would you prefer?

Does the company do something that you feel passionate about? Do they do something that really interests you?

2. Will I be good at this job, and will I enjoy it?

Look at the job description carefully, and read it through several times.

Job descriptions will always have a list of skills that they require. For instance, a company may be looking for a grad with excellent leadership skills, and experience of handling data.

You might read it and think ‘Great! I’ve got some good examples of where I’ve used those skills’. But hold fire; just because you have experience in something, doesn’t mean that you enjoyed it or, to be blunt, that you were any good at it!

Reflect HONESTLY on what you have been successful at in the past, and more importantly, what you enjoyed doing. Sticking with the example above, you might have spent time as president of a university society, but if you found leading and managing people stressful and not very enjoyable, then this may not be the job for you. Similarly, if you interned with a company where you were analysing data, and found it deathly dull, it’s unlikely you will find it much more enjoyable in a different setting!

3. Is my application the best it can be?

Companies will often say that their application forms should only take a couple of hours. Ignore this, don’t fall for their trickery! A good application cannot be rushed.

There is no point submitting what you know to be a below par application. You’ll kick yourself when you are rejected, and you’ll have that niggling, annoying voice in your head telling you that you might have got through to the next stage if you’d given it your all. Spend that extra hour and you’ll have the last laugh.

4. Do I meet the requirements?

Companies will almost always give a list of essential and preferable requirements. Make sure you meet the essential requirements, and at least a couple of the preferable ones.

If the company states that it needs someone who has had at least a years experience in marketing, don’t apply if you only have a couple of months. If they require fluency in a second foreign language and you can only speak a little conversationally, don’t apply.

It can be easy to try and convince yourself that employers will overlook the essential requirements that you’re lacking, and to apply on the ‘off chance’. 99% of the time, this won’t work. Your time will be better spent applying for positions that you are fully qualified for.

When it comes to preferable skills, however, don’t be put off from applying if you don’t have all of them. For instance, if it’s listed as preferable that you have experience of using certain database software and you don’t, still apply. It’s things like this that can be fairly easily taught on the job, so won’t be a ‘deal breaker’.

5. Does this job fit into my ‘Master Plan’? 

As a student/recent grad, it’s really important that you always think about the bigger picture.

Because it’s unlikely that you will get your dream job straight away, you need to choose a position that is taking you towards your ultimate goal; so you feel like you are making progress.

Whether your aim is to be a Head of Marketing for a multinational company, HR Manager at a charity or a Financial Director of a FTSE 250 company, choosing your first job based even loosely on what you want to be doing in 5, 10 or 15 years’ time, is a sure fire way to achieve graduate job satisfaction.

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