We see it every day. Graduates with a lack of thought, planning and preparation for the recruitment process OR for entering their first ‘real’ job. It is alarming. The ironic part is that, as graduates, we prepare for this moment (of securing our first ‘real’ job) from an early age at school, but then don’t give the planning and preparation part of our self-development more than a passing thought… Until we need it, or even worse, when it’s too late.

Based on years of witnessing these missed opportunities, here are 10 tips for graduate success to improve graduate employability when preparing for either the graduate recruitment process AND the study-to-job transition:

For the recruitment process

  1. Internships & Vacation ProgramsGetting to the final year (or even beyond) and realising that the employment journey should have commenced in first-year university. So, what is graduate employability? The truly employable students have planned for this and, in many cases, haven’t even had to compete in a graduate recruitment process because they have secured a graduate role through their pre-graduate work experience programs.
  2. Understanding yourself – Often, students lack the excellent skills, knowledge and experiences they can offer an employer. Reflecting (and truly understanding) what makes you unique and employable is critical to your employment success.
  3. Pursue volunteering & extra-curricular experience – these skills and experiences often separate a strong candidate from an average one. This experience is also arguably the easiest to get, so get involved!
  4. The recruitment process – Being aware and prepared for how an employer will assess you through the recruitment process. Specifically, core competencies and how they are assessed during stages such as behavioural interviews, video screening and assessment centres. Your cover letter, resume or GPA alone won’t get you your dream job. Seek out help and resources to help you with this process.
  5. De-valuing part-time or casual work experience – Students often ignore or dismiss how important their part-time or casual jobs are in relation to a graduate employer. They ARE critical, especially in the absence of work experience related to your degree or discipline.

For transitioning into our first ‘real’ job

  1. Job transition plan – Turning up on your first day with your new company, having thought about it in advance. It’s very apparent which of your graduate cohorts have prepared to set some goals (and stick to them). An essential action plan for the lead-up to entering your new job is critical.
  2. Putting too much pressure on ourselves too early – Graduates often enter an organisation desperate to perform or quickly show value. For the first 3-6 months, most employers will just want you to get to know the business, the people and the values/culture and feel like you belong before you need to consider being profitable. 
  3. Elevator Pitch – this is a big one. Unfortunately, being unable to articulate who you are and what makes you unique is too familiar. What will you say when the CEO or Managing Director of the organisation you are joining “Tell me about yourself?”
  4. Build relationships & networks – While you are not expected to have a vast network when starting your first job, those graduates who build long-term, authentic connections and networks will be more likely to succeed – so start now!
  5. Be a ‘sponge’ – We must be aware that we have much to learn as a graduate. Being open, collaborative, and actively listening to those with more experience and expertise from day one is an excellent recipe for career success. Seek out a mentor as soon as possible too.


Rohan Holland
Rohan Holland

Rohan is a graduate recruitment and development specialist. With extensive experience managing graduate programs and professional resourcing roles in organisations including BP, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, Rohan has worked throughout Australia and abroad. He has a passion for sharing graduate program insights and coaching graduates to be better prepared for the recruitment process and the study to work transition.

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