Before you head off out the door of your university take the time to speak to your institution's careers service, it will only benefit you in the long run. Joan Newton, head of careers service at the Anglia Ruskin University Essex Campus explains.

In today's world one size no longer fits all and services in different institutions work in many different ways. Some have careers advisers who specialise in a particular subject area such as computing, science, humanities, built environment and so on, whilst others offer a generic service. You can meet staff face-to-face or attend a workshop, alternatively you may be able to have a telephone interview or send an enquiry by email or via a website.

However you access our services, you can be sure we are completely objective. We are funded by our institutions, the advice we give is in your best interests and, unlike commercial agencies, we do not profit from placing you on a short client list with a specific employer.

We recognise that you have many calls on your time, and coming in to the office may not be convenient, so we make as much information as possible available online. This means we can offer you a wide range of information and allows you to access our facilities at times to suit you. There are links to other resources and increasingly there is interactive material which gives immediate feedback.

Simply having a degree is no longer a guarantee of good job in itself. Competition can be fierce and all employers look for additional skills that will enhance their business, whether they are a multi-national or a small charity. Your careers service has contact with graduate employers every day and staff are well placed to understand what those employers are looking for, and to help you identify how you can meet their needs.

Activities such as recruitment fairs, employer presentations, employer mentoring schemes and videocasts all give you the opportunity to meet different organisations, explore what they have to offer you and decide what you have to offer them. It is crucial to your success in the job market that you know what skills an individual employer wants, have evidence that you possess them and can present that evidence effectively. 

It is interesting that, at the same time as some new computing graduates are saying they can't get jobs, employers are saying they can't find suitable recruits. The graduates do have the skills needed, the problem lies in their ability to persuade the employers of this. 

It is not enough to see a job advertised and sit down and blast off another copy of a standard application - that's a waste of time for both you and the employer. Any employer wants to see that an applicant can benefit his bottom line, whether that be in financial terms or offering a better service to a client.

That means you must do some research about the organisation, work out what this particular employer wants for this particular job, look at what you have to offer and then match the two together very clearly, giving evidence to prove your claims. Not everyone finds this easy to do, especially at first, but it is a skill you can learn like any other. It might take a few attempts to really get it right so don’t wait till the closing date for the job you really want is looming to start. 

Your written application is only the first stage and is designed to get you to the interview. Once there you have to respond effectively to the questions asked. This does mean you have to think on your feet but, as with exams, a bit of question spotting and preparation goes a long way.

The interviewer wants to see that you will fit into the organisation and have the skills required to do (or learn to do) the job. Questions will be focused on your experiences to date and the skills you've gained. You can include information from your course, your work experience and any other activities such as sports or volunteering to provide evidence.

If your only experience of interviews has been for part-time 'Mac-work' or vacation jobs, you may feel a bit unprepared for this. Again, your careers service can help. Most will offer you a mock interview where you can practice answering likely questions and get feedback on how you can improve your performance.

Applying for computing jobs it is likely that you will be faced with some sort of psychometric test. This will typically assess your verbal, numerical and spatial or diagrammatic skills and measure you objectively against other candidates. If you haven't done one of these before, the very novelty of it can be off-putting so you don't do as well as you might. Many careers services have staff who are trained to administer these tests and can give you feedback on where you went wrong so you can improve next time. If nothing else, knowing what you have to face will give you more confidence.

You need not be alone in the job seeking process. Look at your careers service's website to get you started, go and see them or email/phone with your questions. We really are quite human and we are here to help you!