The Ultimate Fresh Graduate Job Hunting Guide for Class of 2020

By Paula Delos Reyes, Contributor

#FirstJobInterview #FreshGraduateJobHunt #InterviewTips #CandidateGuide #JobHuntingTips #FreshGrad

Fresh grad looking for your first job during a pandemic? We’ll guide you how to find it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way we work. The conditions for finding jobs and even its availability have changed. Rest assured that we at Workbank are committed to connecting employees and employers and supporting the Filipino workforce in every way that we can.

If you’re part of batch 2020, looking for jobs for fresh graduates seems like a daunting task. With most offices closed down temporarily during lockdown, your job opportunities may seem limited especially for entry-level jobs. You can’t apply the old-fashioned way and randomly walk into a company asking for a job.

But don’t worry, online recruitment platforms like Workbank offer plenty of jobs for you to choose from. Here, we’re going to talk about how you can apply for a job online, get invited for an interview, and ultimately land your first job.

Resume writing tips: How to write your first resume

The first thing that you want to focus on is creating a great resume. Since this is your first job, you’re not going to have a lot of experience to put on there. Thus, what you need to do is to focus on your skills and write them in a way that will catch the interest of hiring officers.

You want to create an eye-catching resume with a solid writeup about yourself and your skills. The way to do this is to write in short bursts. Not necessarily always in bullet form, just avoid writing lengthy sentences that an average hiring officer might skim (you’re not trying to write your life story!).

Start with writing a header on the top part of your resume that clearly shows what you want to achieve, your experience (what course you graduated), and what skills you have. The header should be two to three sentences long and should be enough to fill in the hiring officer on the purpose of your application.

Example: “AB English Studies fresh graduate from Harrison University applying for the role of English Tutor at The English Company. Has excellent communication skills and a proven track record of surpassing expectations and delivering results.”

After that, focus on writing the body of your resume with a sub-header for your educational background. Name the subheader “Education.” Include your academic achievements and extracurricular activities. Don’t forget to include your OJT experience as employers tend to gravitate towards this part of the essay during review.

If you’re in the field of IT or Digital Marketing, follow Education with a subheader on “Certifications”. This is where you should list down certifications you have taken and earned from reputable organizations, such as Adobe, CISCO, CompTIA and HubSpot. If you don’t have any of these yet, we highly encourage you to take seminars and earn certifications as these will surely give you an edge in your field.

You also want to create a subheader for “Skills and Abilities.” Here, you want to highlight the skills you’ve gained from your education that are specific to the job you’re applying for like communication skills, English language proficiency, and computer literacy. Skills don’t include being “very responsible” and “punctual”; you may get better understanding on work skills that matter from this blog we wrote a while back.

Optionally, you want to make a different resume for each job you’re applying to to make it tailor-fit for the position. You may also want to include all the worthwhile seminars you’ve attended throughout college, and maybe even some you’ve attended outside it.

How to apply for jobs online

Now that you’ve got your resume down, the next step is to look for a job online. Hiring platforms like Workbank offer an extensive list of employers and job opportunities waiting for fresh graduates like you.

At Workbank, you can search for jobs that are related to your course and fit your interests. Remember, if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, there are plenty of other jobs out there that are very similar. You want to apply to several job postings in case you don’t get a response from your original application.

Broaden your horizons and prioritize the job postings on your list according to how much you want them, and how much they fit your educational background. If you don’t get a response from a company you applied to, don’t let it discourage you! Keep applying - in the case of fresh graduates, more applications mean higher chances of landing the one.

How to get a job interview

Now you’ve applied for several jobs online, you want to get an interview. More often than not, hitting “apply” on a job posting online and sleeping on it isn’t enough. You also want to follow up on your application.

Hop on the internet and locate the website of the company you’re applying for. Sometimes they have an email address of their hiring officers on their website, so that’s one way to do it. Another way is to personally follow up on your application via LinkedIn’s chat feature.

If you’re persistent enough, hiring officers are eventually going to take notice and put you higher up on the waitlist. If they can see that you’re determined to get the job you’re applying for, then chances are they will give you that phone call. But be careful where you cross the line from persistent to being spammy - you don’t want to turn off recruiters by coming across as entitled or desperate.

What to do when you get an interview call

When your phone rings and you’re sure that it’s them (because who else could be calling, right?) don’t panic! Remember to keep your composure and to have a clear head. Answer the questions clearly and concisely over the phone, and save the rest of the “wow factor” for the actual interview.

Phone interviews are usually the first step for employers in the hiring process, so they typically don’t ask heavy questions like “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” Rather, they’re more likely to ask questions such as if you’re willing to work in this specific shift, in this specific location, or what your asking salary is.

However, you also want to prepare for the first phone interview to guarantee a next one. When you pass the phone interview, prep yourself for the next one as well, whether it’s on-site or over the phone.

Common interview questions and how to answer them

There are obvious interview questions you need to watch out for. Here’s how to answer them:

Q: How to answer the interview question, “Tell me something about yourself.”

The answer to this isn’t as straightforward as it seems. The goal of the interviewer by asking this is to see whether the candidate has the right skills and attitude to take on their desired role.

Since you’re a fresh grad, you want to answer this interview question by sharing about your educational background, what skills you developed, and what achievements you’ve earned in school. If you have work or OJT experience, you may answer this question by sharing about your past jobs, what you learned, and what you achieved.

A: I recently graduated BS Psychiatry from Clint Medical University as a cum laude student. Last year, I took my OJT at Doctor J’s Hospital where I assisted patients with their concerns regarding mental health for around two months. Throughout college I realized the importance of mental health and grew a desire to help people triumph over their struggles. I’m excited to be here today and I’m looking forward to this interview.

Q: How to answer the interview question, “What are your greatest strengths?”

Answer this interview question clearly and with confidence. Don’t just say things like “I am a great conversationalist,” but prove it. Cite examples of past experiences where you were able to exemplify these attributes in real situations.

A: “I would say that I’m a great listener. I’m great at receiving feedback. In my internship, when I received feedback from my superiors, I would make a clear, tangible plan for myself to address them and do my best to improve. I make it a point not to make the same mistakes twice, and often get commended for delivering positive results.”

Q: How to answer the interview question, “Why do you want to work for us?”

The way you want to answer this question is by showing your interest in the company, on top of showing interest in the position. Make sure you look up the company online before the interview so you can come across as knowledgeable and honest about the things you like about the company.

You also want to point out that you want the job because it’s a good fit for your long-term goals. Remember: employers are looking for keepers, not job-hoppers.

A: “I believe that I am very capable for the post. But apart from that, I’m also impressed by the company’s long standing reputation - I’ve heard a lot of great things from a friend who’s been working there. I want to be part of an organization that embraces innovation and diversity the way that you do, because these are the same things that I value myself.”

Q: How to answer the interview question, “How do you make up for your lack of experience?”

Sometimes fresh grads will get thrown a curve ball just so the interviewer can see how you’d react to difficult questions. The way you want to answer this question is to guarantee the employer that you’re a fast learner, you have all the right skills for the job, and you’re willing to adapt to new processes quickly.

Show your commitment in learning new skills and give examples from experience to back up those statements.

A: “I think I mostly make up for my lack of experience with my determination to learn new processes. I believe the skills I’ve learned in college will serve as a great foundation to the skills needed for the role I’m applying for. I’m also a fast learner - I taught myself how to code complex algorithms in 2 weeks through free online tutorials. So I hope to pick up some new skills in this position as well.”

See more tips for answering difficult interview questions here. No harm in over-preparing!

Preparing for your first job

Once you get past the hiring process and sign your contract, everything will come to you naturally - or so you thought. You have to be capable enough and show the right enthusiasm to hold down your job. And since this is your first time, you want to keep this one thing in mind: you will start out as a probationary employee.

For most companies, the probationary period will last five to six months. Anytime within that time, you run the risk of losing your job should your employer deem you unqualified for regularization. Therefore, you need to put your best foot forward for the first six months of your contract.

Most companies will have a training phase for the first two to four weeks of employment. After the training phase, your training manager will decide whether or not you have what it takes to stay for the next six months.

So during this probationary period, you have to give it your all. Avoid coming to work late, avoid using leaves unless absolutely necessary, and by all means do NOT go AWOL or “Absent Without Leave.”

Going AWOL means not reporting to work without advising your supervisor or anyone in the office. This will rub your supervisor off the wrong way and ultimately cause you to have a bad standing with your employer, and possibly even future employers affiliated with the one you work for.

Show the right enthusiasm for work, be as open as you can to new ideas and learnings, and avoid any conflict with coworkers for the first six months and you should be good for the next year or so.

You also might want to stay with your first employer for a minimum of two years if you could help it. It’s a reasonable length of time to say that you have learned what you could and helped the organization achieve its goals during your stay, and it gives confidence to your future employers that you are not as big a job-hopper as fresh grads usually are. Nothing looks worse than a resume with only month-long careers!

Take free online classes

Think you don’t have enough skills yet for the job you’re applying for, or maybe want to refresh the things you learned in school? Workbank offers a variety of seminars to equip you with new skills that employers of today are looking for in their workforce. Check out our Seminars and Trainings Page constantly for what’s new! And when you are ready to land your first job, simply go to Workbank and search for jobs that are currently out there.

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Need more helpful job advice in navigating our new normal? Check out our careers blog.