Kate Jones catches up with job-hunting expert Oni Bhattacharya to give you the best tips on how to bag your dream job…
Caught in a whirlwind of lectures, socialising and generally living the student life, it’s often hard for us students to take stock of the fact that the end of our degrees (and often the months leading up to graduation) signal entrance into the working world.
Those carefree days when we could essentially spend our time doing whatever we wanted suddenly become eclipsed by one foreboding question: “How am I going to get by, now my student loan’s gone?”
Help is at hand from employability trainer and job-hunting expert Oni Bhattacharya. A life and business coach who has previously worked in media, retail and customer service, Oni specialises in helping the long-term unemployed find work.
His new book, The Jobhunting Toolkit, combines practical advice with an emphasis on personal development to show the reader how to find work in this day and age.
“Not only have I applied for jobs and been rejected, hired, fired and been made redundant, but I’m also an employer who has to hire staff. So I’ve been on both sides and understand what works.”
Understand the selection process
Oni tells me that the book has some key advice for graduates about applying for jobs. This includes candidate selection:
“Some companies use scanning, others might outsource the work to an agency, or they might use group or phone interviews,” he notes.
“Graduates need to know how to deal with each of these.”
Start planning your career early
Oni strongly believes that even those who are a while off graduating need to start making career plans.
“My personal view is that graduates who have recently left university who don’t know what they want to do have done themselves a disservice… They need to be thinking about their career options in Year 2 and have an idea about what they want to do,” he says.
His advice to students at this point in their degree?
“Use time effectively. Talk to employers at recruitment fairs or by writing to them about the skills and experience they are looking for.
“Find out where there are opportunities and plan and target how you will achieve what you set out to do. Use your summer break to get intern experience in the field you want to go into.”
Oni is in no doubt about the importance of experience like this.
“When faced with two candidates who are equally qualified, experience may sway it in your favour,” he says.
However, getting a foot in employers’ doors is not necessarily on all graduates’ agendas, with some choosing self-employment after leaving university.
Oni’s advice for this group of people includes being “physically and mentally strong”, “marketing yourself to companies on a regular basis” and learning from the things that others don’t want to do
Meet the employer’s criteria
I ask Oni what advice he would give to those who have lost confidence in their abilities, which can happen if people have been out of work for a significant period of time or have regularly been unsuccessful in job applications.
In responding to this, Oni gives an insight into the minds of employers: “They are looking for ‘key words and skills’ listed in the job description which might need to be added to the CV,” he says.
Oni continues: “Another issue is that people are applying for every job they see. They need to stop and think about what they really want to do, consider the skills and experience they have and match them to the kind of work they really want to do.”
Believe in your abilities
The employability trainer is also a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which he describes as “essentially reprogramming your mind to get better outcomes” to “help you overcome barriers and limiting beliefs”.
Oni applies NLP to the context of looking for a job.
“You can’t just hope a job will come along. You have to take steps to make it happen.
“Apart from getting in front of the right people you need to believe you will succeed. Write down what you want to achieve and put [it] on your wall or mirror and reaffirm it to yourself every day.”
Remember: our future is in our own hands
“Considering graduates have been successful all their academic lives they certainly have skills and ability,” he reassures. “They need to focus in on those and then what they want to do with themselves.”
“We are the makers of our own destiny and if you really want something then take steps to get there.
“Everything of course starts with a thought and if you can think it you can achieve it if you have the talent and skill in that field.”
It’s a reassuring thing to think about. In an era which has seen 40% of graduates still hunting for jobs six months after leaving university, many are understandably concerned about life after university.
Yet Oni’s practical tips, combined with the powerful message he offers – being able to unlock our minds and change the course of our futures – certainly makes the prospect of entering the world of work a lot less daunting.
Oni’s Top Three Job-Hunting Tips:
Start planning your career early
Speak to people in the industry
Get some experience
“Getting working today is a fusion of academic success, experience and good skills and having them will certainly help graduates transition faster into the workplace.”
The Jobhunting Toolkit, published by Panoma ress, is available now for £12.99 or for £4.99 on Kindle.