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How to improve your graduate prospects

A new report by the Foundation for Young Australians shows that while Australian graduates are more and more educated, they’re not getting the skills needed to find work. In fact, it can take grads almost five years to secure a full-time job in their field. Worried about your prospects? Check out our top tips.

Be proactive

With the graduate employment rate slipping in recent years, your best bet is to be proactive. Organise work experience (there’s more on that below), carefully research all options and take advantage of networking opportunities. Have a dream employer in mind? Why not approach them directly? While this won’t guarantee an interview, they might let you know when a role opens up.

Get work experience

Internships are competitive, may be unpaid and mean giving up precious free time — but they’re absolutely worth it. Work experience can help you figure out which jobs you do and don’t like, the environment you want to work in and where you see yourself heading in the future. Think of it as a way to boost your CV and test the waters before full-time employment. If you’re lucky, you’ll be offered to stay on full time. Graduating this year? Consider a placement over summer before applying for jobs in the new year.

Broaden your skill set

So you studied marketing and your passion is in brand management. If you find roles that ask for a more general skill set, you may need to emphasise areas such as social media, event coordination, media liaison, analytics or market research. Also consider expanding your job search. Perhaps you’re a nursing grad looking to get into one of your city’s major hospitals — which can be tough. What about a smaller facility, such as an aged-care centre?

Showcase your employability

Have a degree and great skill set? Now think about your overall employability skills and how they’ll help you succeed in the workplace. Employability skills can be grouped into eight broad categories: communication, teamwork and leadership, problem-solving, self-management, planning and organising, technology, learning, and initiative and enterprise. Next, see how you can demonstrate personal attributes like commitment, honesty, integrity, loyalty, common sense, motivation, resilience and reliability — and don’t forget your personal presentation or sense of humour.