How do top universities review graduate applications

Application tips for university graduates

Application tips - university graduates should pay attention to this

The application is to be treated like an abstract. Long debauchery or information that is of no interest to the job is out of place. A concise and job-related explanation of the relevant skills and strengths is the be-all and end-all of every application.

An application for academics is formally not different from other applications. For this reason, we recommend our general application tips about content, structure and structure as well as online application & Co.

In terms of content, however, there are special features here and there for academics that need to be taken into account. Former students have completely different expectations and requirements than, for example, prospective trainees. Therefore, in addition to our general application tips, you will find further specific information about applying as a university graduate here.

[These are based on the books published by the Duden "Duden Guide Handbook Application" (2012) and "Applying as Academics" (2011)]

Choose the right job

The position that you want to apply for after your studies should also suit you and your abilities. Writing random applications is of little use. It is better to search specifically for positions and invest more time in a high-quality application than just sending a large number as quickly as possible. A run-of-the-mill or a non-individualized application is quickly noticed by the HR staff and is not welcomed. Students in particular are expected to have a certain level and commitment to their future career - this already begins in the application phase.

In addition, the following applies: Even with a university degree under your belt, excessive boasting and just-talking-about-yourself won't go down well.

What can and do you want?

Before you start looking for a job, you should be clear about what qualifications and competencies you have and what you are looking for.

  1. What can you?
    What qualifications do you have? What are your competencies? At what level are your foreign language skills? Do you have specific PC / IT skills? How is your oral / written expression - also in English? What are your soft skills?
  2. What you do not want)?
    What suits you In which area is your dream job? It is also important to know what is absolutely out of the question for you. So you should already at the beginning of the application process z. B. Think about how you feel about travel or shift work. Or whether you are aiming for a management position.

It is advisable to carry out a self-assessment on all of these points and also to list your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to be as realistic as possible and not to overestimate or underestimate yourself. You are doing yourself a disservice with either variant. It is also helpful to ask friends, relatives and acquaintances for their opinion.

You should also ask yourself whether it really has to be a position that fits your focus or whether a non-subject area is also okay for you. Because in general you can first of all be prepared for the fact that you will not necessarily find a job in the area in which you want to work on the one hand and in which you have specialized with a focus on the other. University graduates, provided they have not completed a very specific degree, are relatively "universally" employable for companies. For example, if you studied business administration with a focus on human resources, you may later be employed in marketing or sales. Because don't forget, for companies it is mostly the experience that counts. A degree in business administration enables you i. d. Usually also to cover other business areas - initially regardless of the focus. The professional experience later forms your final profile. It also means that for you as an academic there are several alternatives - more so than for others. Of course, always on the condition that you are open and flexible for the world of work. A degree of flexibility is often expected from university graduates.

The search for a suitable job

You won't find suitable spots within five minutes. Searching for jobs in the right area, in the right region and comparing your own qualifications with the required knowledge takes some time. In addition, there are a variety of media that you can use for research:

  • Universities offer job offers from cooperating companies through their Career Service.
  • If you have specific companies in mind, it is worth taking a look at the company website.
  • Internet job portals as well as newspapers and (trade) magazines are good sources for finding job advertisements.
  • You can also find job offers on our website.

A special feature when looking for a job: trade fairs as contact exchanges

In addition to all these media, graduate fairs offer several opportunities to find suitable companies and jobs. They are definitely advantageous, especially since you will have the first personal contact with companies, so you can convince yourself personally and can refer to the conversation at the booth when you apply later.

If you have picked out interesting job advertisements from a company in advance, you can hand in your application documents personally to the HR manager at the stand. It always makes sense to have the current résumé with you and perhaps offer it to the company during an interview.

The preparation and follow-up of the fair is just as important as the good appearance at the fair itself. We have already put together general tips on graduate fairs, fair preparation and the right appearance.

You can find out where graduate fairs will soon take place in your area on our trade fair website.

Writing an application

Analysis of the job advertisement

First and foremost, you should analyze a job posting. Does the position suit you, your qualifications, skills and wishes? Do you fit the job, the company and the requirements? It is normal that you do not necessarily meet all of the requirements for the position at the time of your application. However, you should promise to familiarize yourself with qualifications that are not (yet) available. It is important to emphasize your will and your ability on this point. In addition, academics are expected to acquire new and complex subjects as quickly as possible.

The requirements listed in a job advertisement differ between so-called must have's and nice-to-have's. You can recognize this from the wording. You should be able to present must-have items when you apply. You can promise non-existent nice-to-have's.

The cover letter

In our application tips you will find everything you need to know to structure a cover letter. There are further additions to the final part:

Topic: starting salary

In an application you should state your salary expectations, if these are asked for in the job advertisement.

This enables the company to assess you in terms of costs and at the same time check how well you are able to realistically assess your "value". It is important not to give too high but also not too low ideas.

The information is usually given as the gross annual salary. For example, if the company pays a 13th month's salary or Christmas and vacation pay (which is also often mentioned in the advertisements), you have to take this into account in your stated amount.

Now the question: How do I realistically estimate my salary? If you don't know anyone who happens to have the same portfolio as you and / or work in the area you are applying for, it is difficult to find suitable numbers, but not impossible. In general, the salary depends on knowledge, experience, ability and special skills, but also on the market, the industry and the size of the company. Nevertheless, you can get initial assessments and orientation aids on the Internet. Pages with salary comparisons of industries, related to university degrees or professions serve as a good source of information. You can also research the salary in the job you are applying for on the popular search engines.

Topic: Earliest possible starting date

This is also very important for companies. While the date of the first working day is fixed for apprenticeships, you will not find any specific information in job advertisements. In the tenders i. d. R. Wording like "we are looking for ...", "from now", "at the next possible time", "as soon as possible", "from ...".

So, when is the earliest possible time for you to take up the position? Have you possibly planned stays abroad between your studies and work? Are you still in an employment relationship and do you have to observe the relevant notice periods?

Usually the 1st or 15th of a month is given as the start date. If you are completely free, you can also write “from now”.

The resume

The general structure of the résumé is already summarized on our website. You can find more additions below:

In principle, a résumé must be without gaps, credible and up-to-date.

  • You should of course list your studies as a station on your résumé. How detailed you do this depends, among other things. on whether the focus or topic of the thesis is interesting and relevant to the position you are applying for. The university as well as your degree and the course of study are mandatory. However, you can also include the final grade and your focus during your studies, as well as the topic of your thesis (including grade).
  • Stays abroad are part of your résumé - regardless of whether you studied abroad or did an internship. In addition to the period of time, also state the university or company (including department and area of ​​responsibility).
  • Have you received any scholarships? Then you can very well mention this on your résumé.
  • Activities in the course form i. d. Usually no work experience, but can e.g. B. be covered as sideline activities