Breda Dooley, Matrix Recruitment.

Career tips for class of 2021

About to start your career? A well-known recruitment agency has put together some useful tips explaining how graduates can succeed in the search for their first job.

Finding your first job is one of life’s biggest events and anxiety is normal for those leaving college behind and beginning their journey up the career ladder.

Of course, getting a foothold on that ladder can be a challenge but this year’s graduates may be more anxious than most, particularly as they graduate into an ongoing pandemic.

However, Breda Dooley of Matrix Recruitment believes there has never been a better time for graduates to land their dream job.

She said: “At Matrix Recruitment, we have seen a steep rise in the number of clients actively looking for candidates in recent months, particularly in the areas of accountancy, finance, pharmaceuticals, and the public sector.

“With plans underway to remove the last of the pandemic restrictions in the coming weeks, and the return to the office imminent, there has never been a better time for graduates to start their job hunt.”

To help you on your way, Breda has some top tips to help you secure your first professional job - from writing a cracking CV to nailing that all-important interview.

1. Get your CV basics right: Your CV is your calling card and your most important sales tool. It should go without saying that it needs to include basic information such as your contact details, employment history and education. But Breda advises that you should include something to make you stand out, such as an interesting layout, hobby or skill. She also strongly encourages proofreading or, better still, asking someone else to check for mistakes before sending. One typo or mistake is often all it takes for your CV to be disregarded and for you to lose that dream job!

2. Your talent is in the detail: If you interned during college, undertook any voluntary work or have other experience or skills relevant to the role, make sure to include these in your CV. Start with your most recent experience and work backwards. List any other skills you have under a separate heading and don’t underestimate the importance of including hobbies. If you don’t have a specific interest, list the things you like to do such as reading, cinema and travel.

3. Quality over quantity: Keep your CV to two pages or less. An employer can receive dozens of CVs for a role and they will need to sift through them quickly to see who stands out and in Breda’s experience, employers don’t have time to pour over pages of detail. Help them and yourself by keeping it short and concise, but rich in terms of the content.

4. Cover yourself in glory: A strong, compelling cover letter can be as important as the accompanying CV and is your first opportunity to make a great first impression. Your CV has limitations, so this is the perfect opportunity to inject some personality into your application and tell an employer a little more about yourself. “Don’t go overboard,” advises Breda, “and keep the cover note concise and short, anything too long is unlikely to be read.”

1. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail: Breda is often surprised at how little research some candidates carry out on a prospective employer in advance of an interview – a rookie mistake that can show a distinct lack of interest or savvy. If you make it to the interview stages, make sure to prepare typical as well as atypical interview answers and read up on the company, the background, who the CEO or managing director is – at a minimum. Find out what the company’s ethos and aims are and check any newspaper articles to see if they’ve been in the news recently and what has been written about them. Mentioning examples of projects or initiatives you admire is a great way to demonstrate that you have done your research and want to be a part of the team. You should also know the job role inside out and be able to use personal examples to highlight why you are the perfect candidate for that role.

2. Do a mock interview: If you really want to nail the interview, get a friend to do a mock interview with you. Ask the mock interviewer to flag anything they feel you need to improve on – are you smiling enough and engaging with the interviewer fully? Are you fidgeting too much? Is your body language off? The more you practice, the better you will get, so do it as many times as you need to!

3. Work wardrobe: Much like dating and whether we like it or not, first impressions count. In an interview, first impressions are critical, which means your demeanour and your attire are the first things you are likely to be judged on. Even if a company has a casual dress code for staff, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and opt for something a little smarter until the job is secured.

Matrix Recruitment Group is one of Ireland’s leading recruitment firms. Established in 1998 and with offices in Waterford, Carlow and Athlone, Matrix specialises in a number of job categories including accountancy, financial services, engineering, and manufacturing.