exceeding your expectations

Preparing to Win Your First Job

Have you just graduated and are looking for your first role out of university? Or are you in your final year and are starting to think about life after exams?  Job hunting can be a daunting task, and can require plenty of work before getting a job offer. Here is our approach to help you prepare the best possible application. 
Firstly, it is a good idea to register your CV with a specialist scientific recruitment agency (for example Whitehall Recruitment!). That way, when new roles do come through, you will be one of the first to know if they think your CV matches the job, as you will already be on their database. Sign up with job boards too such as CV Library, Reed and Totaljobs, as recruiters use these as a valuable source of CVs, and give you a good chance of your CV being spotted, even if you haven’t applied directly for a job. 
LinkedIn is also a useful tool when job hunting, as it can put you in contact either directly with hiring managers or recruiters. Look to expand your network as much as possible by asking to connect with your colleagues, peers or other contacts you have met through work or university. You can also add an “Open to Work” frame on your profile picture, to show that you are actively looking for a new role The About section of your LinkedIn profile is also a great way of telling people more about your skills, experience and personality – for example, you could highlight here any research projects you have worked on in your studies so far. You can also write a short Headline so that anyone seeing your profile pop up will instantly know your job role or level of education (e.g. BSc Chemistry Graduate from the University of…).

CV Advice
Your CV is the first part of your application that recruiters or hiring managers will see. It is therefore crucial to put as much time and effort into it as possible. 
Use a clean and concise format – there are plenty of templates out there, many of which are eye-catching, but sometimes not so easy to read. Recruiters are usually looking for keywords or company names and job titles, so you want to make sure that that this essential information can be clearly seen and read, more so than any other information or interesting colour schemes. Use a clean, clear font - Calibri or Ariel are a safe bet. 
At the top of your CV you should include your name, contact details (phone number and email address), your address (or just post code if you don’t want to give your full address), and potentially your LinkedIn profile for an additional professional touch.

Profile – your CV should start off with a short summary of your skills and the experience you have developed in your CV so far, in around 100 – 150 words. The idea is to introduce yourself to the reader in a way that your job history can’t. Try to write in a passive, third person tense – for example, try to avoid personal pronouns as I, me or my, as if it were written by someone else about you. This tends to look more professional than if it were written in the first person. 
You can start by saying what your current role is, and then describe yourself in terms of your personality and strengths. Round off by declaring what sort of opportunity your are looking for. 
An example could be as follows: 
“A proactive and ambitious Chemistry MSci Graduate with a year in industry. Is interested in the industrial applications of chemistry. Completed a 12-month industrial placement, gaining a broad range of experience and understanding about how business meets chemistry in the coatings industry. Has excellent communication, analytical and practical laboratory skills and is seeking a graduate role in the Coatings industry”. 

Work Experience – Usually we advise to include your Work Experience history as the next heading, above Education. However as a recent graduate or final year student, you are unlikely to have a significant career history to demonstrate, unless you did an Industrial Placement or an Internship. If your jobs so far are limited to weekend or part-time roles, then skip straight to Education so that your university studies are straight after your Profile. If you did do an Industrial Placement, then you can include this as the next section after the Profile, as it will help your CV stand out. That’s not to dismiss any hospitality or retail work as irrelevant; any responsibilities you can mention here are very important as they demonstrate crucial transferable skills, and suggests that you are a more rounded person than just your studies, but when applying for jobs as a graduate, usually employers will want to see your degree first.
Starting with the most recent first, list each role, clearly stating your job title, employer and the dates you worked there. Under each role, list your responsibilities in bullet points, in a concise tone.  You could list any achievements separately here too. It is also helpful to include a short description of what that company does in a single sentence, directly under the company name.

Education –  As with Work Experience, start with the most recent first and list your qualifications, grades, name of the institution that awarded them, and the dates you studied there. As mentioned previously If you have just graduated and do not yet have a substantial career history to show, it may be worth putting the Education section above Work Experience to clearly show this. If this is the case, you should elaborate as much as possible, including any research projects you carried out, specific modules you studied or lab skills and analytical instruments you used. 
After these sections, include separate headings for any training courses you have attended, plus any additional languages, before finishing off with a section on Hobbies and Interests. This part often feels like an afterthought, but you should put as much emphasis here as the rest of your CV, not least because it is the only other section where your personality can shine through! Any eye-catching hobbies that can provoke a discussion in an interview are good to include, but make sure you can back them up if asked! Sometimes a common interest with the person who is interviewing you can be a perfect way to break the ice. Elaborate where you can; if you enjoy reading, say what genre it is that you like in particular. Listing single word activities can often look mundane and non-descript (e.g. running, music, films, etc) so be specific where possible. 

Finally, if you have publications with your name on it can stand out to potential employers so you can list these with references as appropriate. 

It is also worth pointing out that ideally  your CV should be no longer than 2 pages, particularly if you do not have a long career history. Employers often have many CVs to review, so they will want to read as much about you in as succinct a way as possible. It is also shows that you are able to condense relevant information, which is a good skill to have.   
Once you feel that your CV is complete, make sure to proof read, and then get a friend or relative to double check!