We’ll be honest, job hunting isn’t always fun. And when you have deadlines, society responsibilities and possibly a part time job, it can be really hard to focus your job search.

However, with these top tips, you should be able to focus on your future and get exactly what you want out of your graduate job search.

1. Take the time to make the right choice

Take the time to really think about what you want from your future. The chances are, if you have stumbled across Actuarial Careers, then you really want a career as an actuary. However, there are several different areas of the actuarial profession that you could work in. For example, pensions, corporate finance and consultancy, to name but a few.

Take some time to read as much as you can about the different areas of work and what might fit you best. Think about what sort of company you would like to work for, whether you want to work for a large company or a smaller one, whether you want to work in London or a regional office.

You can read more about the different areas of work here. You may also want to take a look at the graduate and senior profiles on our website to find out a bit more about what working in each sector is like.

2. Swot up on the industry

If you find yourself with a bit of free time this year, perhaps over the Christmas period, now is the time to go above and beyond your job search.

Make sure that you understand all of the industry terminology you may come across in interviews. Test yourself with our glossary, which gives you all the actuarial terms that you need to know before going into an interview. The Hot Topics section of our careers advice page is also a great way of knowing about key issues affecting the industry today.

Showing commercial awareness in your interview is a great way to impress recruiters, and you can do that by keeping up to date with the latest industry news. Subscribing to a publication such as The Actuary will help you do this. You can also take a look at our news feed.

3. Keep on top of the news

While keeping up to date with industry news is important, so is keeping the bigger picture in mind. Consider subscribing to industry publications such as Financial Times or The Economist to keep up to date with the wider finance industry and also any world events that may impact the industry. Remember that a lot of institutes offer student discounts on subscriptions and if you are pushed for time, then signing up to any email alerts or simply following them on Twitter are easy ways of keeping up to date.

Having an awareness of how the actuarial industry and world events fit together is a key skill that will impress recruiters during an interview.

4. Network

Do you know what events are taking place near you? Events can be a great way of not only focusing your job search but also getting a head start on the recruitment process and even securing an interview.

If there are events that you want to attend, go prepared and don’t be shy about asking questions. Talking to representatives at events is the best way to find out what a firm is like to work for and to find out a bit more about their recruitment process and what to expect. This is also a really good time to ask for advice.

Don’t forget that professional relationships can be built at any time – joining societies and getting in touch with university alumni are great ways of making lasting and valuable contacts. And why not start connecting with people on LinkedIn? Or perhaps following a few key players on Twitter?

5. Volunteer

University or college is a great time to volunteer. It helps you gain transferable skills, get experience of the working world and you give something back to the community. When you volunteer, you may find that there are certain aspects of the working world that you aren’t too keen on, which is no bad thing when you are making important decisions, like what you want to do in the future.

Any volunteering is great, but there are a few places you can volunteer that not only help you give back to the community but also are slightly more relevant to a career in actuaries. You can find out more about where to volunteer here.

6. Take another look at your CV

You may not realise it, but as the year progresses you will have gained new skills, taken new modules and maybe even have increased responsibilities either at work, within your society or while volunteering. Therefore, the CV you created at the start of the year is no longer up to date.

It is always a good idea to update your CV as soon as you gain a new responsibility or learn a new skill while it is fresh in your mind. Take some time to review your CV and tweak it or update it if necessary. You may find that you become more focused once you know you have an up to date CV ready and waiting to send to employers. You can take a look at some of our CV advice if you are struggling to know where to start.

7. Practice application questions

Did you know that the same ten questions formed 90% of all the application forms? This makes them extremely easy to practice, and practice you should before you start applying for your dream job.

Take some time out to plan some answers to the most common application questions and when the time comes to answer them for real, you should find it considerably easier. Want to know what the top ten application questions are? We have them right here.

8. Get on top of your online profile

You don’t need us to lecture you on social media privacy settings, but it is always a good idea to review your privacy settings every now and then. Take some time to make sure that your social media privacy settings are up to date so your Freshers Week pictures on Facebook and your Southern Rail rants on Twitter are locked away behind a private profile.

While social media can certainly be a hindrance when it comes to getting a graduate job, it can also be a huge help. For example, a LinkedIn profile can be extremely useful when it comes to your graduate job hunt. Find out more about how you can use LinkedIn to kick start your graduate job search here.

9. Start applying for graduate jobs

One of the best way to focus your graduate job search is to actually start applying for graduate jobs. Once you get into the swing of things, you will find it gets easier and easier the more you apply.

A lot of graduate scheme applications deadline at different times throughout the year, so make sure you keep track of the deadlines of your top picks. You can take a look at our deadlining jobs here.

If your top graduate schemes aren’t closing for a while, don’t put off applying until closer to the deadline. The sooner you get your application in the better, and if you’ve got a quiet period then this is the best time to get your application in as you can really take your time to perfect it. You don’t  know how busy you will be when the deadline approaches, and you don’t want to rush your application because you have left it too late.

You can read our top application tips here.

10. Apply for internships and placements

If you are in your first or second year of university, now is the time to be thinking about securing internships for your chosen profession. These aren’t  just the opportunity for great work experience, they can also lead directly to job interviews and offers after you graduate.

You can take a look at some of the internships we have on offer here.

11.Prepare for interviews

If you have followed our tips above then you may have found your focus and applied for some graduate jobs, which means you could well have some interviews lined up already.

Preparation is very important for interviews, so set aside the time beforehand to learn as much as possible about the company, their key business areas, their clients and competitors, as well as the issues affecting the wider industry and how this may impact the company.

You should practice your answers using the STAR principles and have a few examples practiced and ready. Ask friends and family to help you prepare, going through possible questions and ask them to give feedback on your answers. You can read our top interview tips here.

12.Relax

You can’t focus your job search if you are stressed. Take some time to relax and regroup, go out with friends or do something that you enjoy and then come back to your job hunt when you are inspired and refreshed.

Hopefully this has given you some tips on how to focus your graduate job search. Taking your time to do your research, read up on the industry and taking some time to go through your CV and practice some application questions will all help you feel focused and ready to start the application process. Good luck!

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