What can I do at uni to increase my chances of getting a job?
By Nicole Correia,
When will the media stop talking about unemployment? When will the media leave students alone? The answer is: the day you get a job. It isn’t simple, no, but it’s certainly the right answer. It is essential that students have their own CV and self-motivation to achieve, and take advantage of the many things they can do whilst at university to help the process of getting a job and increasing employability.
So, you’re already on the right path by choosing to study and getting a degree. There is plenty of evidence to say that this will increase your wages; the BBC reported that graduates earned on average £12,000 more each year than employees without a degree. It’s more than just pocket money statistics; this increased salary will increase your chances of hopping on the property ladder, paying your own utility bills and buying your own super yacht. Finding a job and working life seems like it can be stressful, but university prepares you. theunipod have looked into realistic ways for students to boost their CV and develop sought-after skills to increase your employability prospects.
It pays to have fun as a student
Yep, this one isn’t a joke. Joining societies and participating actively in them can, indeed, increase your chances of employability. Not only does it indicate that you are active and interesting; it also provides opportunity for conversation in an interview - who knows if your potential boss has the same love for photography as you do, or enjoys horse riding too. It’s a great way to gain social experiences, too, and employers will be able to ask you about your university societies and how they impacted your university experience. Employers want students that are willing to learn, adaptable and keen. So when it comes to that interview process you’ll be able to be charming, interesting and an all-rounder.
In some cases you may even join a society and help to improve it, or help with running it - for example helping to fund-raise or working closely with its founders or by becoming a treasurer. There are many opportunities available with university societies and it’s important that during your years of study, you enjoy yourself and immerse yourself in all types of new experiences. Make the most of your student years - yes, you should join the surfing society. Who knows where the ride will take you!
Apply for student internships
There is nothing an employer likes more than to see that you’ve done work experience or an internship. This shows that you have a good level of independence, that you’re keen to learn and improve yourself, and that you have experience of working in a professional environment. There are constant opportunities for work experience placements for students, many companies relying on interns and volunteers to help them run their offices smoothly.
When you add your experience to your CV be sure to really think about your wording - “I answered phone calls” is less impressive than “I was responsible for the initial handling of all incoming client calls.” It is the detail and the extra effort that will gain you brownie points with employers - thus amounting to £s in the long run. The more experience you have the better it looks.
Make your digital footprint professional
The majority of you will have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, documenting your day-to-day lives and activities. LinkedIn is the online network for employers and employees, where you document your professional experiences and make “connections” rather than “friends” - networking has never been easier. Treat your LinkedIn almost like an online CV - be concise and encourage your “connections” to endorse you for your skills that they believe you have. Keep it updated. You can be recommended as well, where a comment is made in your benefit and appears in your favour on your profile for all to see. This is equivalent to an instant reference so ask those you have worked with previously.
LinkedIn is a great tool and should be treated appropriately. With this being said, so should your other social media profiles. Be aware that employers often search sites like Facebook to get an idea of the person. Whilst last night’s antics may have seemed funny, tomorrow’s interview may be cancelled because of them – check out your privacy settings and keep these posts for your friends to see.
Get some hours in and shape up your CV
It’s worth the effort - student towns need students to work in order for their shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and bars to continue running smoothly throughout the year. Remember that students increase a town’s population by thousands and contribute billions to the UK economy, and so Tescos has even more visitors than it would if they weren’t there. Supply and demand; give out your CV and ask for a job. Be sure to look presentable when you do, though - employers will judge you if you’re wearing yesterday’s creased clothes because you couldn’t be bothered to iron them on Sunday.
Getting a part time job whilst you are a student will prove to future employers that you can time manage well, that you have an independent initiative, applicable skills, an ability to communicate, as well as opportunity to provide references. The effort made in getting a job (and keeping it!) will shine through against other graduates who haven’t bothered.
Shaping up your CV won’t take long. Have a look on Google for templates - don’t go for anything too fancy or extravagant; the aim is for it to be clear so that employers don’t need to study it to work out who you are and what you’re good at. Include your name, contact details and availability at the top, then proceed with any past working experience, your school grades, then interests. Present yourself as best you can on paper and if you’re feeling keen then type up a short cover letter to explain the position you’re after and that you hope they’ll consider your application. Concise, clear and neat communication is key. With so much competition, graduates need to grab an employer’s attention quickly and a smart looking CV filled with a variety of skills and experiences will ensure that your CV goes on the ‘interview’ pile.
Always get others to review your CV – ideally go through it with careers advisors at your university.