5 job search tips to landing your first job after college
The right qualification is not enough to help you find a job after you graduate. What you need is evidence of skills that make you stand out from the crowd. As Fahad Al Hassawi, manager of UAE National Recruitment and Development from Emirates Airline, said in an interview, “Job applicants have to be smart, hard working, enthusiastic and career-oriented. Graduates should be aware of the types of jobs they're applying for.”
The key is to be proactive, suave and smart about your job search instead of sending out hundreds of CVs. A solid entry-level job search strategy and job search tips would include:
Writing a strong resume
A degree in chemical engineering won’t be enough to get you a job with a petro-chemical company. Chances are, you may find yourself pumping gas at a petrol station in the UAE where engineers are valued mainly for their experience. How can you work around that? A well-designed, smartly worded resume can help you make an impression on a potential employer. If you can’t do it, seek professional help.
Target your application
The perception many Gulf country employers have of new graduates is that while they have academic knowledge, they lack transferable skills (experience in some of skills many organizations value). So think carefully before you send your CV out. Decide where you want to work and what you want to do in a realistic manner. Narrow down your choices to a few places and focus all your energy on them. Look for companies where you can add value.
When job hunting, tap all your contacts. Family members, friends, teachers – inform them about sectors you are keen to work in. Chances are, they may have some leads for you. Your college alumni can be another important resource as some of them may already be working in your profession of choice. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also be used to connect with influential people in your field and send out the message that you are looking for a job.
Pick up relevant skills
The biggest problem in the Gulf job market is that graduate skills don’t match demands. For instance, there are a high number of engineering, medical and business graduates in some Arab countries. There are fewer numbers qualified for emerging fields like technology and the digital space, where jobs are available. So while you’re searching for a job, it would help to pick up some additional skills in programming and software development. When combined with your area of expertise, more avenues may open up for you.
Accept all internships that come your way
No luck with a full or part-time paid position? Doesn’t matter. Ask for an internship. It’ll take you one step closer to gaining a full time job. And even if you don’t score that, you’ll get the relevant experience most employers in the Gulf expect new recruits to have. Plus it will help you see whether the career you’ve chosen is really right for you. Remember, the best internships to get early on are with companies that have wide brand recognition – they will open doors for you.
More Job Search Tips: 5 ways to showcase transferable skills on your resume
- Team skills – mention any team projects you may have headed or participated in, either in class or as part of your extracurricular activities, and the lessons you’ve learnt from them.
- Communication skills – do you have any debate, drama or presentation skills to showcase? Mention how comfortable you were facing an audience.
- Problem-solving skills – any logistical issues you may have faced for which you found a solution. Maybe a team assignment where you helped the rest power through a roadblock.
- Research skills – Choose a project that you’re proud of and mention the steps you took to complete the research for it.
- Data analysis and number crunching skills – if you’re a calculus or physics major, you can ace this.