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Your Beginners Guide to Job Seeking

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 6 Aug 2021

When you are either fresh out of university, college, an apprenticeship scheme or re-entering the workplace, the idea of looking for a full-time job in your chosen sector can be a little bit frightening. It’s no secret that job seeking does take a lot of work, but with a bit of our help and your knowledge, you can learn how to begin your job search and all of the other steps along the way, when looking for your first engineering job. This guide includes important information about your job search and links to all the suitable articles on E&TJ, all in one place and easy to find!

There are different steps you will have to make to ensure you have a successful job search and it all begins with your CV and cover letter. Without these two things, it would be near enough impossible to apply for any role or even fill out an application form. This is the first step in job seeking and the first thing an employer will read about you!

Application Stage Graphic

Your CV

When applying for any job, your CV is usually the first thing that employers will see. This is your chance to shine and some would say, your only chance to get your foot in the door with this particular role. You want to make sure that the reader is engaged, that they are able to get the important information they need without having to search for it.

The layout of your CV is very important. You need to have something that looks professional, has all of the right sections on it and is highly organised. Sleek and professional is my best advice. However, you also want something that you are proud of, willing to put your name on and hand out to employers. So make sure you spend time on it, it’s not something that can be done extremely fast. In fact, I suggest working on it over a few days or a week. Give yourself time to step away and come back to it with a fresh mind. Below are some links that you may find useful when putting together your CV!

Cover Letters

Have you ever had to write a cover letter before? This is typically something that is easily forgotten, more of a second thought because most people put all of their time and effort into their CV. Cover letters are there to support your CV and allow you to express what you weren’t able to fit onto your CV.

Your CV is where you will put most of your experience and education, but your cover letter is where you can really take the time to express why you think you would be a good candidate for the role you are applying for. Address the employer directly when writing a cover letter, they should always be tailored and I recommend starting from scratch with every one you write.

  • Write a new Cover Letter for each role you apply for
  • Use a template, this way the only thing you have to change is the wording!
  • Address the hiring manager (if you know their name), if not, use the company name
  • Go Beyond Your Resume. Talk about your ambition, why you are a good candidate and why you would be a good fit for their team. Make it more personal to the company.
  • Showcase Your Skills. Yes, this is often included on your CV, but letting the reader know that you have everything they are asking for, is always a good thing.

If you want to find out more about cover letters and how you can upgrade yours, you can use the resources below.

  1. Your personal statement on your first engineering CV
  2. Tailoring your CV to employers
  3. Getting your CV past online filters
  4. Shortening your CV – when you just have too much to say!
  5. Writing an entry level CV
  6. Your CV layout
  7. Why you can never have the perfect CV

There is a lot of information to take in here, so just take things at your own pace. Everyone does things differently and the above is just advice. If you feel more comfortable doing it your own way, don’t let anyone stop you!

Replying to interview request Graphic

Getting an invitation to an interview can sometimes feel like the most exciting but nerve-wracking experience. Especially if you receive the news via phone because you may feel you have to decide right there and then whether to accept the invitation or not. Considering you applied for the role in the first place, you’ll probably be accepting, but despite the excitement, take the time to note down important details!

You want to make sure you have all the right information and from my own experience, when employers invite you over the phone, they also send you a follow up email confirming times and location. However, you can’t guarantee they will do this, so when job seeking, it’s always a good idea to have a pen and notepad at the ready.

After receiving an invite, the next step is the interview! So, between now and then, you should be starting your research and preparing in other ways as well. There is so much you can be doing and learning about the company, to ensure you are as confident as you can be when the day comes. 

For now, we have some more links that may be of interest to you before we go onto the next part of this guide.

  1. How do you know if you are accepting the right job for you?
  2. The importance of resilience
  3. How to decline a job offer or interview
  4. Finding the perfect employer for you

Preparing for interviews Graphic

Preparing for an interview, can feel like a mountain of work to do. However, if you break it down and take one step at a time, it’s likely to feel a lot more manageable. I highly recommend being well prepared before an interview, some people can simply go in and wing it, but preperation can help you feel more comfortable and ready.

Researching the company

If you didn’t start this before you applied for the job, now is probably a good time to look up the company. Try and find out as much as you can about them and if there are things you want to know but cannot find, keep note of this and ask these questions during the interview. A simple google search should do the trick, it’s usually very easy to find their website if they didn’t leave a link in the job description. A good place to look is on their ‘about us’ page on the site. This will often tell you what the company does, what they stand for and other company policies.

You can check out the employee page if they have one, to get familiar with a few faces and people you may be talking to in the interview stages of your application. However, another important place to look is the ‘news’ section on their site. See what is happening with them in the media, projects they are working on and so on. You can learn a lot about a company by what the media is saying about them.

Frequently asked questions

Although you will never know exactly what an interviewer is going to ask you during an interview, it’s a good idea to look up and understand some of the more common interview questions to try and get ahead and prep some of your answers. We have a whole section dedicated to these types of questions, so click below for any you would like to learn more about!

  1. How to answer the “What is your greatest weakness?” Interview question
  2. How to answer the “Why are you interested in this job?” Interview question
  3. How to answer the “Why should I hire you?” Interview question
  4. How to answer the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Interview question
  5. How to answer the “What are your greatest strenghts?” Interview question

Those are just a few examples of the articles we have available to you on E&TJ surrounding the subject of frequently asked questions. These types of questions can cause you to feel on the spot and sometimes cause unnecessary pressure during an interview. If you take the time to think about it and prepare a rough outline for an answer, it can help you feel more at ease and ready. If there are any more of these types of articles you would like to see, simply drop us an email and we’ll be more than happy to help with advice!

Preparing your own questions

An interview is a two-way street and it is imprtant for you to ask any questions you may have about the company and the job role as well. It’s about obtaining a mutual understanding of each other, what they can offer you as an employee and what you can offer them as a professional. After all, you will be spending a lot of your time at work and it’s good to know all of the imformation you need before accepting a job offer.

Getting ready for the interview the night before

The night before a job interview can be nerve wracking, especially if you are new to job searching. It’s important to rest and take the time you need to wind down in the evening. You may think that you should be spending every waking hour, prepping and cramming in information. However, you and I both know, this isn’t the best method.

You should try and have a relaxing routine, get ready for bed and try to rest. One thing that always helps me feel calm the night before, is to get everything ready. That way you feel more prepred and there is no need to rush around in the morning. Get your bag ready, pick out your interview outfit and ensure all of the documents needed are packed and ready. This can be things like your ID, portfolio and anything else they may ask from you. It’s a good idea to double check the invitation email to make sure you don’t miss anything they request you bring.

You have worked hard up until this point and whatever tomorrow brings, you’ll have successfully had an interview! See below for more tips that you may find to be useful when preparing for your interview!

  1. Getting interview ready with STAR
  2. How to prepare an interview elevator pitch
  3. Why it’s important to be yourself in job interviews
  4. How to succeed in a video interview
  5. Exploring common myths about job seeking
  6. How to achieve the right mindset for an interview

Interview Techniques Graphic

An obvious but important part of an interview is showing up on time! It’s good to understand the line between being punctual and being too early, because this is a thing. A good amount of time to be early is around 10 minutes, this way you aren’t sitting in the reception or waiting room for too long getting nervous and you don’t interrupt the interviewer. They probably have other things scheduled into their day and sometimes being early can get in the way. But, in interview terms, the phrase, better late than never, should probably be ignored for similar reasons.

Try and stay positive

From the moment you answer the call, open video invitation, or get invited into the interview room, try to make sure you are thinking positively. Nerves sometimes tend to take over and may cause negative thoughts, but you are there for a reason. Not everything will go perfectly and that isn’t because you’re new to this, it’s because we are all human and make mistakes. There are people out there who have been in the field for years, interviewed for a large number of jobs and still make mistakes. It is inevitable. But if you think you have made a mistake or said something wrong, don’t dwell on it, carry on and make the most of being there! You’re probably doing way better than you think.

Answer questions with specific examples

When you are answering questions, especially when you are making claims, back them up with actual experiences you have had. If this is your first job, or you are still finding the right role for you, you can still turn your experiences into relevant answers. For example, if they asked about a time you have worked well in a team, this doesn’t have to be relevant to the job you are interviewing for. Think about a time at school or if you have had a part-time role in a different sector, talk about that. There is always something, just try to use examples to back up claims! It can also make the question easier to answer if you are picturing something you’ve already done.

STAR Method

Answering questions (and preparing questions) with the STAR method can make them feel easier to answer and remember.

Situation – Think of a specific situation or task you have completed in the past that is relevant to the question being asked. Try and be very specific and to the point, you don’t want to go off on a tangent, even though this can be very easily done when nervous.

Task - What was the end goal? What did you need to achieve?

Action - Do not forget that this is your chance to shine. Give yourself some credit and talk about what you achieved. How did you do it, how did you feel afterwards and how did this help you with your role in the future? Boast a little bit, the interviewer wants to hear about your successes, so don’t be shy.

Result - What did you learn? What did you accomplish? Ensure you remain positive and take credit for the outcome. Make sure that the interviewer is learning out what YOU did in that team effort, not what everyone else did.

All of this will start to feel more natural once you have some interview experience, these things get easier over time and practice becomes permanent. Take one step at a time and you will reach your goals.

Following Up Graphic

After your interview, you might feel a huge sense of relief, that hard part is over right!? Well, where that may be true, it’s still a good idea to keep in contact with the company / employer after your interview to let them know that you are still interested in the role and are looking forward to hearing from them.

A follow up email or phone call is often the easiest way of staying in contact. It gives you the opportunity to thank them. It also shows the employer that you are a polite and considerate professional and allows you to show your continued interest. Try and remember to send thank you notes after your next interview and it could just bag you the job.

After following-up they will either let you know that you are invited to the next interview stage, that you got the job or that on this occasion you were unsuccessful. Whatever the outcome, you will have learnt something and can use the knowledge and experience with you next time you are looking for a role. Everything happens for a reason and if this time didn’t end how you wanted, pick yourself up and keep going. There will be a role out there for you, keep your head high and work hard. Below are a few more articles that may be useful to you.

  1. Why haven’t they called after the interview?
  2. You got the job – now understanding the contract
  3. Five things you should do when you didn’t get the job
  4. Understanding that no one’s job search is perfect