No matter of the current stage of your education or career, the question of what employers look for in a job application will always be relevant. A completed Masters degree is an excellent step towards securing a stable career in your chosen field. Getting that extra dose of confidence as a successful university graduate will certainly make the process easier. So how can you help yourself as early as when you are choosing the right Masters programme so that you can reap the rewards once you graduate?

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The following interview with Julien Gendron, Human Resources Coordinator at Jobillico – an online recruitment company based in Canada, will help you understand the dos and don’ts in your first employment experiences.

How can aspiring Masters degree students discover the full diversity of career options that are available in their particular field of specialisation?

Students have to be curious; you don’t always know how many doors your education can open. You must do your research and be on the lookout for any opportunities! To get some information you can talk with your internship supervisor, watch for job offers on web platforms such as Jobillico, consult your campus employment service, etc.

How do employers value a Masters degree in comparison to a Bachelor’s?

When I receive an application from a candidate with a Masters degree, I feel like this person would bring something more to the company in terms of strategy and that they may potentially have a more long-term vision of what they would like to accomplish in the position. Bear in mind that Bachelor’s degree programmes  - regardless of field of study - cover topics in a broad sense, whereas Masters programmes are more specialised in a specific area of study. Having a Masters degree also shows your passion for your field of study.

Is there a vicious circle: employers prefer experienced applicants, but applicants need employment opportunities to gain experience? If so, what is the solution for both employers and job applicants?

Yes and no. In my opinion, it’s better to get some work experience in your field of study before beginning your Masters. Why? You’ll have an even better idea of what you like, and you’ll have learned more about your chosen career and about yourself as a professional. It’s important to have realistic expectations about the job market and to know your own value so you can sell yourself appropriately in your job applications and during job interviews. One solution for applicants and employers to transcend the lack of experience is the development of internship programmes. That way, applicants can gain concrete experience while employers can give young professionals an opportunity to experience the realities of their future career.

What are the skills that employers value most in Masters degree holders and how can students actually gain this skill set while at university?

The most desired trait that interviewers look for in applicants is their “analytical sense”, that is, their synthesis skills, their visionary way of thinking, their writing and research skills, etc. These qualities can be developed during internships, part-time jobs, or even through volunteering.

How can young professionals maximise the benefits of their Masters studies?

I would say that one way young professionals can maximise the benefits of their Masters studies is to be constantly aware of new opportunities! It’s by actually working that you maximise the value of your knowledge. So whether it’s through a job, internship or even volunteering, you have to put into practice what you’ve learned!

Where can students get career advice and when is it best to start the job search?

Universities usually offer career counsellors, which is a good place to start. After that, you can get information during networking events or join online networks such as to help you in your search. I would recommend you, as graduate students, to start your job search by selecting some companies that you would like to work for and then selecting some specific jobs which interest you. Then you can start sending your CV/resume two or three months before finishing your studies. Before that, employers generally don’t have the time nor want to wait that long for you to finish your studies.

Can you share your top dos and don’ts for a first job application CV/resume?

The most frequent error in a job application is that job seekers focus too much on their educational background. Hundreds if not thousands of people have the same academic experience as yours. You have to stand out! Emphasise the skills that you’ve gained during your studies or previous work to show who you really are and what you can bring to a company.

The Jobillico team believes that “everyone deserves to be happier at work”. What is your advice to students and young professionals who want to plan their career and education to ensure a rewarding experience?

My number one tip: Get to know yourself! Seize all opportunities to gain work experience, in order to understand who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Also, take the time to gather information on the curriculum that interests you the most to be sure that the career you’re aiming for aligns with your aspirations. One final note: I’d like to emphasise that you must have realistic expectations about the job market. It is competitive, and you will have disappointments, but don’t give up. You will find your own version of success!

This article is original content produced by Advent Group and included in the 2017-2018 annual Access MBA, EMBA, and Masters Guide under the title “Find Your Own Version of Success”. The latest online version of the Guide is available here.