Final year students will be finishing the autumn term soon (if not already) and so you will likely be applying to a lot more graduate roles over the Christmas holidays. However, before you do this, take a few minutes to read how you can create and implement an overall job search strategy in order to plan and focus your job search. This is something you can do now to make your job hunting more effective, it just requires some thought and action!

Setting targets

Firstly, think of what it is exactly you want to achieve and set targets. This does not mean setting a target stating that you want a graduate job, no, I mean setting specific target's using the SMART format: Specific, Measurable (or meaningful), attainable (or actionable), relevant, Time-bound (or trackable). This now becomes 'I will apply to 5 jobs by the end of this week'. This target is specific, it gives you a deadline to complete it, but attainable providing you have completed your research into the specific industries you are wanting to work in.

Make some adjustments

Take a look at your CV and make necessary changes if needed, recruiters will spend less than 30 seconds looking at your CV so if you haven't had much response so far, this could be vital. An important factor to mention is tailoring your CV and covering letter to the job that you are applying for. This may sound simple but don't simply take off a few lines from a generalised CV you have created for all the other jobs you have applied for. Instead, take each skill and experience you have and match it to the job description to exactly what they are looking for. If they require you to have good communication skills, highlight you increased your communication skills from an internship you did in the summer and state how in the covering letter. If done correctly, it will show recruiters that you are qualified for that specific role and not just applying to dozens of others within the same industry.

Refreshing your skills & achievements

You may be reading this thinking that actually, you can't tailor your CV or covering letter because you don't have the necessary experience or that you have no idea what you want to do. Simple, you have the next few weeks to get out there and rectify this. Think about approaching small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and ask if you can do a two week placement over the holidays. You can learn a lot in a short space of time! There are also lots of voluntary jobs available which again show's you are getting out there to build your competencies and skills which employers love to see.

Getting organised

Okay, so you already created your own individual 'brand' as detailed in a previous post. You have set yourself specific targets to ensure you know what you want to achieve in a given week and started to refresh your skills and achievements in order to customise your CV and covering letter to each job application. Now you need to ensure you get organised. Keep note of all applications that you make, whether they have been successful and what the outcome was. This means you can not only use this to track and record your progress (remember your targets) but it may help with future applications. For instance, you can go back and look at your customised CV or covering letter and see if there was anything missing should it have been unsuccessful at the application stage. Another important point is to make sure you allocate your time to research your target companies, the industry and the job details in order to get an overall picture before applying. You can also come up with a monthly schedule detailing what you will be doing each day of the week so that you can meet your set targets. This will help to develop a routine and focus your job search instead of doing a bit here and a bit there.

I have mentioned a few ways to develop a job search strategy which you can implement, the rest is up to you. Remember, if you plan and structure your job hunt, you will be more productive and may end up deciding exactly what path you want to go down. Have a merry Christmas everyone!