Explore expert tips and resources to be more confident in your next interview.
In this guide, Mock Questions explores 10 approaches for recent post-secondary graduates to generate more job interviews and secure their first professional role. We scour data from an industry-critical recruiter survey and uncover innovative approaches. We break down the best way to execute these strategies to make this survey data work to your advantage.
Mock Questions provides advice to thousands of recent graduates every month. We often hear that one of the most challenging aspects of the job search is getting an opportunity to interview and enter the job market in the first place.
If this sounds like you, know that we empathize with your situation. You have spent precious time as an eager student, diligently working toward success in your educational career.
Now, it’s time to enter the workforce. But wait one second...
With little related work experience, you need to stand out to gain the opportunity to interview in the first place. How do you show employers that they should invite you in for a job interview and give you a fair shot?
That’s a loaded question.
As a big fan of providing advice backed by statistics, I've created this guide based on Jobvite's 2020 Recruiter Nation Survey results.
Each year, Jobvite surveys hundreds of recruiters and HR professionals for its Recruiter Nation Survey. They then release a report to HR professionals and recruiters to determine industry priorities and current hiring trends. The following are some findings that will help you.
Hiring authorities reported finding high-quality candidates from these top sources:
When asked which resume and application factors were most important when considering a candidate, 29% of survey respondents said the candidate’s resume format was a priority.
If you think cover letters are unnecessary, consider this:
A well-written resume and cover letter can take you far. Many people think that resumes are ‘dead;’ however, they are alive and well! It’s just that resumes have shifted to become modern job search documents rather than the old ‘responsible for…’ list of bullet points they used to be.
Hiring a professional resume writer is a smart investment. They know how to appropriately keyword your resume to get you past a hiring companies' artificial-intelligence bots (called an ATS or Applicant Tracking System).
If you don't know what an ATS is or how they work, this should be your very first step before you ever invest time putting out generic job applications.
In 2020, 46% of recruiters said they focus on social media for their recruitment efforts, and 72% said they use LinkedIn to find high-quality candidates. 37% of these recruiters reported using Instagram to find candidates - a significant boost compared to the mere 18% in Jobvite's 2017 survey.
Other social media platforms used to source high-quality candidates include Facebook and Twitter. And, in fun news - TikTok and Snapchat recruitment are on the rise! These platforms are a creative, engaging way to grab a recruiter's attention on social media.
The most significant social media turnoffs (that many job seekers still do!):
If you have public profiles on any of these social platforms, take the time to clean up all information that a hiring authority could access.
Just like the importance of a highly-targeted cover letter and resume, a complete, updated, and adequately keyworded LinkedIn profile is a non-negotiable for recent graduates looking to land a job interview.
Your LinkedIn profile should have a custom URL, an updated and catchy headline, a punch summary, and include all of your education, certificates, and credentials. The Skills & Endorsements section is a prime location for keywords that will attract the right hiring managers to your profile.
Jobvite took a careful look inside of company referral programs and incentives. This is what they found:
There is a high chance that peers and friends in your network will get a financial kickback for referring you to their company's hiring manager! How is that for incentivizing your network to lend you a hand in your search?
As you can imagine, the 2020 pandemic shifted how many people earn money. Companies also turned to freelancer outsourcing. In fact, according to Jobvite, 22% of hiring authorities reported an increase in outsourcing needs to freelancers in 2020.
If this avenue interests you, Upwork and Fiverr are excellent places to start. If you have an IT specialty, there are freelancer hiring platforms available specifically for you!
Depending on how tech-savvy you are, this step may sound like a significant undertaking. However, your personal website only needs to be a one-page site showcasing your best work and providing a way for recruiters or hiring managers to reach you directly.
You should also include a downloadable PDF version of your resume. Be sure to provide a link to your LinkedIn profile as well!
An excellent and affordable place to start is Squarespace. This site builder allows you to create beautiful and simple designs using pre-designed templates.
Draft a list of your top 25-100 dream companies. You can also create a hot list for your preferred job titles and industries.
Next, look on LinkedIn to see if your 1st or 2nd-degree connections work at the companies, or in the job titles/industries, on your hot list. Then, develop a professional approach to reaching out to these connections.
Using your hot list as a guidepost, you can ensure that your job search remains targeted. This approach will prevent you from getting distracted on job boards and applying to roles that aren’t a fit for your background or fail to align with your professional goals.
For job seekers who have an affinity for organization and systems, a job search planner or job interview tracker can be a beneficial tool for keeping your search activities in order.
Create your own planner in a Google workspace or purchase and download a pre-designed template from an independent artist on Etsy.
Look online for a list of industry or job-related associations that you can join. Some of these memberships will be free, some may ask for education verification, and some may require an annual fee.
You'll get excited about the endless options when you begin to look, so I suggest that you avoid overdosing on memberships. Start with 1-3 associations that you believe will yield the most significant benefit in your quest to land high-quality job interviews.
Look for evidence that these associations are active. Check out their Facebook groups, LinkedIn pages, and the associations’ leadership. Ensure they are reputable, recognized, and involved in the community or industry/sector you wish to garner attention.
Your post-secondary institution most likely offers career services. If you have access to a career advisor, this is a great place to start.
Digging deeper, try to find unique resources from your municipal, provincial/state, federal government geared to helping graduates find job placements and internships.
An informational interview is a meeting you set up to learn more about a particular job, company, or industry. Unlike a job interview, this meeting connects you with someone in your network further along in their profession and on a career path that you admire.
To initiate an informational interview, begin by reaching out to professionals you admire through LinkedIn or email. During your informational interview, ask thoughtful discovery questions such as:
Chances are if you make a great first impression and a strong connection with the person offering you their time, they will advocate for you when the opportunity arises.
You can see how booking 3-6 informational interviews can quickly snowball your chances of being considered for a referral.
Now that you are fully equipped to start a professional and well-organized job search, you will begin to generate interest and book job interviews.
Some interviews may be booked last-minute! Make sure you are ready to answer the most challenging interview questions such as:
Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want to work here?
Why should we hire you?
What are your compensation expectations?
Mock Questions also has a Q&A set addressing the most common interview questions. You can access it here.