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After university

How to stand out from the crowd in today’s job market

This article appears in: Study tips
Papers for a job interview

Competition in the job-market for uni graduates can be fierce, but luckily, there are lots of things you can do to get ahead. We consulted some of the expert minds from the CDU HR team to find out what practical steps students can take to snag their dream job after uni. 

LinkedIn should be part of your strategy, says our resident expert

If you’re looking for a job, there’s a dizzying array of ways to promote yourself to a prospective employer.

For advice, we reached out to seasoned human resources professional Billie-Jo Barbara, Deputy Director of Workforce Planning in People and Capability here at Charles Darwin University.

Over 90% of recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates

“Make sure you have a LinkedIn presence,” says Billie-Jo. “Most recruiters will look there first, sometimes even before looking at your resume. LinkedIn is a free, easy tool and websites such as have tutorials for students on how to use LinkedIn.

“Make your LinkedIn, resume, and other communications—such as a cover letter or responses to selection criteria—convey your personality and what you can bring to the organisation. Perhaps your studies have supported your problem solving skills, or you have great attention to detail. Highlight these to stand out from the crowd.

“Know the company you are applying to and tailor your application to them: a law firm will not be interested in an application in bright colours, but an advertising firm would be impressed by an application that stands out with some creativity.

“In your resume, remember to cover the basics, a bit like you would in a uni assignment. Make sure spelling, grammar and formatting are accurate—and have someone look over your work with an objective eye.”

Be active on LinkedIn by following key influencers or even senior executives in your areas or companies of interest.

Increase your visibility on LinkedIn with Search Engine Optimisation

Creating web content that ranks well in relevant searches is called search engine optimization (SEO). Personal SEO are the results you get when you search online for your own name or skills—kind of like Googling yourself, but in the context of seeking employment.

LinkedIn’s primary revenue comes from LinkedIn Recruiter, the service used by recruiters to access LinkedIn’s over 500 million members. If your profile can’t be found on LinkedIn because your SEO is ineffective, you have a serious problem.

Recruiters often begin by searching through LinkedIn profiles. They usually start with skill categories and choose the most important skill that’s required by the position. They also often type in the title of the job they are filling or the job they expect their perfect candidates to have.

They might also narrow their search by specifying a work location, required education, qualifications and more. They’ll scan the search results and click on those most relevant to the jobs they’re filling.

All this means that you need to make sure you’ve populated your LinkedIn profile and other internet presence with strong keywords that will draw attention. SEO is a large topic that’s beyond the limited scope of this article, so it’s well worth doing some personal study to find out more about what’s required. Simply search for LinkedIn + SEO.


Close up of office building windows

You've got yourself a job interview. But wait a second. What does the company actually do? 

It’s also worth researching your prospective employer before you apply for a job or go for an interview. You’ll stand out by being well informed about the employer, what they do, and how they’re organised. Your sleuthing will also help you customise your resume and cover letter to suit the position you’re applying for.

It’s easy to do a little research on the company by poking around on their website and reading their annual report.

Sometimes you’ll be asked in a job interview, “What did you do to prepare for this interview?” Your perfect answer would be something like, “I researched your company so I could understand how my skills would fit what you need,” or “I researched your company’s values to see if they align with mine, and they do.”

With your newfound knowledge about the prospective employer, you can be well prepared and ask intelligent questions during your interview, which should impress the hiring manager.

Networking works

“Don’t forget to consider any networking opportunities that are available,” adds Billie-Jo. “Networks are invaluable. For me, having just moved to Darwin, I’ve had to reset these. Look for local chapters in your profession that you can be a part of. In my case that’s the Australian Human Resources Institute’s Darwin network. Even though Darwin is a small city, there are a lot of professional networks here—everything from the NT Indigenous Business Network, to Business and Professional Women Darwin.”

And remember, personal resilience is important when you’re job hunting. It may take a while for you to land the job you want, so maintain focus, stay positive, and keep knocking on doors. One will eventually open.

Ready to start your job hunt? Check out CDU's Careers Hub to see the latest jobs and internships available. 

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