Young people finishing school or college should have any number of job opportunities available to them, given that the jobs market is buoyant at the moment. However, parents of recent graduates have contacted Irish Country Living looking for advice as their children are finding it hard to step onto the employment ladder – with some not even getting a response from their application.

Whether it is finding a summer job or a full-time graduate role, it can be difficult to know where to start looking. For most people with no previous work experience, applying for a first-time job can be a daunting task. So start with the basics – ensure you have a strong CV tailored to the job application and focus on roles relevant to your qualities and strengths.

Finding the right position

When it comes to finding a job that suits you, it is important to know what role you are looking for. Internships and short-term roles shouldn’t be overlooked as they often lead to full-time positions and build up your experience. Everyone has to start somewhere so regardless of your experience, there are several places you can search for a job.

University career guidance centres can help students find a graduate role or summer work suitable to their degree and qualifications. Most college guidance centres allow you to book a one-to-one appointment with a specialist. They will go through your CV and cover letter and give you feedback on your application.

The online job portals are another useful tool. They allow you to check different salaries and positions across all industries. Most of them have filters to help you search for roles that suit your qualifications and skills.

Check out for positions. You could also include FRS recruitment, and Indeed on your search. LinkedIn can help to build your network, allowing you to reach out to hiring managers.

Newspapers are a more traditional root but remain very effective. There are weekly job adverts on the agri careers pages with positions for different levels.

Along with this, visit your local shops and businesses with a CV and cover letter. Always ask to speak to the manager and have a chat about current roles they are hiring for. This will show initiative and a desire to work.

Creating a strong CV

The first impression an employer usually gets about someone applying to a role is from their CV. Research tells us that, on average, recruiters only spend six to eight seconds reading them.

That means you have to grab their attention and make your job application stand out from the crowd. Here are eight tips to help you craft a compelling CV.

1 Tailor your CV to the job application: When applying for several positions at one time, people often don’t spend time customising their CV for each application; but this is essential and time well spent. Include keywords from the job description as some companies are now using automated systems to screen CVs. Relevant keywords can help ensure your CV passes through these filters.

2 Structure and layout: Before a recruiter reads any of the content outlined in your application, they will notice the layout and structure. It is important to have a consistent structure which helps them identify the sections in your CV quickly. If all the fonts and subheadings are uniform, it gives a more professional feel.

3 Show your personality: A mistake people often make is they undersell themselves by holding back achievements or experiences. As your CV helps recruiters decide if you are going to be given an interview or not, you should be shouting about why you stand out from the crowd. Write a personal statement at the top of your CV that outlines your career goals, key skills, and what you bring to the role.

4 Highlight achievements within roles: Focus on what you accomplished in your previous role, using quantifiable results to demonstrate what you can bring to the table. If it is your first job, list achievements from your work experience and extra-curricular activities.

5 Showcase relevant skills and competencies: Create a section dedicated to key skills, particularly those mentioned in the job description. Be sure to provide examples of how you’ve applied these skills in your previous roles or work experiences.

6 Keep it concise: Aim for one to two pages, depending on your experience level. Be selective about the information you include, focusing on what is most relevant to the job. There is no point in listing out previous roles that have no relevance to the sector or area you’re applying to.

7 Highlight education and certifications: Include your educational background and any relevant certifications or professional development courses. Provide details like the institution’s name, degree earned, and graduation date.

8 Proofread thoroughly: Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors as it is important to show attention to detail and professionalism. Consider asking a friend or using a professional service to review it. Creating an effective CV showcases your strengths.

Structuring a cover letter

Another part of the job application process is writing a compelling cover letter that complements your CV. This makes it easy for the employer to see how your experience and interests connect to the position.

Here are six steps for structuring a cover letter:

Make it personal: Address the hiring manager by their name, if possible, and tailor the content to the specific job and company. Mention the position you’re applying for and how you found out about the role.

Highlight your experience and skills: Emphasise relevant skills and experiences that make you a suitable candidate for the job. Use specific examples to demonstrate your achievements and how they align with the company’s needs and goals.

Show enthusiasm: Convey a genuine interest in the position and a desire to work with the company. Explain why you are excited about the opportunity and how you can contribute to the organisation’s success. Try to convey why they should hire you over someone else.

To the point: A cover letter should be one page. Be clear, and to the point – try to avoid unnecessary repetition.

Professional tone and format: Include your contact information, the date, and the employer’s contact information at the top of the letter. You can find a template for cover letters online. Get someone to proof read it – a second pair of eyes is always helpful.

Conclude with a call to action: Sign off your cover letter with a strong closing statement. Express your eagerness for an interview and provide your contact information for follow-up. Thank the reader for their time and consideration.The most important thing is gaining experience – it might mean you don’t land your dream job straight away or you have to take a salary cut. For first-time employees, it’s important to get your foot on the ladder.

In short

Many recent graduates are finding it hard to step onto the employment ladder.

There are a number of full-time, part-time and seasonal positions currently on the market, you just have to know where to look.

Recruiters only spend six to eight seconds looking at a CV. This means it is essential to make your CV stand out from a crowd.

Cover letters need to be tailored to each job application and company to show a desire and enthusiasm for the role.

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