Job Hunting Tips for Trainees and Inexperienced Graduates

Job hunting can be soul destroying, especially when you are relatively new to the workforce or are past the point of working jobs that just pay the rent and you are looking to kickstart your career.  How are you supposed to start your career if you cannot get an interview?  You know you have a solid work ethic, you don’t have a mountain of experience in this particular field but you do have skills to offer an employer and you’re willing to learn. If this sounds familiar, this three part blog may be of assistance.


We have been on an internal recruitment drive for three months seeking trainee recruitment consultants to join and help grow our company, Momentum Search and Selection. I have been assisting our Director processing applications, reviewing CV’s and shortlisting applicants for an initial video interview, then shortlisting those for face to face interviews.


We have received some great applications as well those ranging from average to poor. This three part blog outlines the main roadblocks to hiring we have seen and tips to overcome these. Honestly, if I read my first CV’s and recalled my first few interviews, I would cringe and ask, “Why didn’t somebody tell me what I was doing wrong?!”


Is your CV stopping you from getting an interview?

Your CV introduces your skills, attributes and qualifications to your prospective employer or recruitment agency. The number of applications received is HUGE at Graduate and Trainee level, so the content of your CV needs to clearly showcase your suitability for the role. Here are some common errors made by candidates that eliminate or diminish their chances of securing an interview.


1. The shotgun approach to finding a job

It’s obvious when a candidate is firing away at every job they see. They use a general CV that does not contain skills and experience that match those listed by the employer. Read your CV every time you apply for a role and edit it accordingly to ensure you meet the job description.


If you are looking for a career change, state that at the top of your CV and describe how skills learned from previous jobs and your education will apply to the advertised position. State why you have chosen this job as the starting point for your new career.


2. Poor editing

Spelling and grammatical errors are sloppy and unprofessional. Ask someone with good writing skills to check your CV.


3. Lack of detail

Does your CV expand on your skills and achievements? Using words and phrases such as ‘honest, hardworking and reliable’ will not get you an interview. Everyone uses the same words. Demonstrate to the employer HOW you are honest, hardworking and reliable. If you were responsible for cash reconciliation at the end of your shift, state that as it demonstrates you are trustworthy. Explain how you have been a hard worker in a previous role, what did you do that was above and beyond expectations, did you receive a bonus or award? “Shift manager of four employees” shows you are responsible and reliable.


4. Cover letters

A cover letter is not always requested but it is a good idea to include one. If properly written, it shows you are not using the shotgun approach and demonstrates professionalism. Unfortunately, the majority of our trainee applicants do not know how to write a letter. Ask someone who learned how to write a letter in the days prior to email to help you or visit the numerous blogs and websites available on this subject.


Do not use Notepad! If you email a Notepad note to yourself, you’ll see how unprofessional it looks and how difficult it is to read; always use Microsoft Word. Use formal English in your letter, not ‘cos instead of because, for example.


5. Issues with your employment history

Some of the CV’s we have received have employment gaps of six month or more. One had nothing for the past 3 years! This just looks odd – where were you? If you were studying, travelling overseas, on parental leave or in casual employment, state that.


Another eyebrow raiser can be too many jobs listed in a short space of time so bear this in mind when you’re frequently changing jobs. It may lead an employer to think you have no commitment and lack loyalty. One of our applicants had worked eight jobs in twelve months, one of them for only a week. She went to great effort detailing all the tasks she had performed but they don’t mean much if you’ve only been performing them for two weeks prior to resigning and moving on to the next job.


Temping and casual work is different. State that you were temping between a particular date range and list the tasks and responsibilities you undertook. For multiple casual jobs, Casual Retail Sales Assistant, July 2017 to March 2018 or Casual Warehouse Employee – IGA, Bunnings & Pacific Meats, September 2017 to April 2018 may be better than listing multiple short term jobs.


The second part of this blog discusses initial contact with a hiring manager following your initial application. The third part provides interview tips. Come back next week for Part 2.


Clare Chittenden