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5 Tips to Raise your Employability While Studying Student Life

5 Tips to Raise your Employability While Studying
Yeah, we know the feeling.

Congratulations, student – you got there! You made it into university, and you’re preparing yourself for three or more years of adventure, camaraderie, alcohol, and hopefully the occasional lecture. But it’s also time to start preparing yourself to take on the world after you graduate. That’s right – time to work on your employability.

Hey, don’t be scared. It’s okay. That word can’t hurt you. Though you shouldn’t let the prospect of employment on the horizon dominate your time at uni, there’s no denying that it’s an excellent time to get started on making yourself attractive to employers and picking up the experience and skills you’ll need to excel in the workplace. So here are my five top tips for improving your employability while you’re at uni!


Find a job

Okay, I’ll admit this one’s a bit obvious. But, if you can fit it around your academic pursuits and find a work / study / life balance that won’t drive you up the wall, the value of any kind of work you do while at university really can’t be overstated. Student jobs are often not the most glamorous or the best paid, but a bit of extra petty cash never goes amiss, and on your CV it can demonstrate your time management skills to employers. Bonus points, of course, if it’s relevant to what you’re hoping to do, but, really, all experience is good experience.

Unpaid internships, volunteering and work experience are other options, and, again, they show a real commitment to your career plans. And, regardless of the type of work you’re doing, make sure to make connections. Cultivate your contacts well, and good references or a word to the right person could make getting that perfect job a dead cert.

(And, hey, our job board might be a good place to start...)

Work the careers service

Every university will have a careers and employability service, though it might be called something different, and it’s an absolutely invaluable resource for any student, even if you’re not actively looking for work. These people are quite simply the best at what they do, and the advice they give you is gold dust: they can tell you how to boost your profile and exactly what sort of trajectory is going to suit what you want to do. And if you don’t know that yet, they can help you work it out.

The careers service is also very handy when you’re working on your CV or cover letter, and can help you navigate the job market when the time comes to move into a career – their work doesn’t stop once you graduate. Getting friendly with them early on is probably a good idea!

Get involved with societies

Joining a society relevant to your planned career choice is also very beneficial to your career prospects. Perhaps more than anything else, it shows potential employers that your investment in the field extends beyond your paycheck, and every nugget of information you learn about your area of interest is one more thing you can show off at interview (just don’t overdo it).

Even if you end up in societies that might not seem as relevant, though, they can still be useful. In particular, if you are given the opportunity to run for an officer position, manage events, or do work (paid or otherwise) for the SU, I strongly recommend taking it. Leadership positions and management gigs let you develop these vital workplace skills earlier, and, if you fancy yourself a future boss, this is a very good place to start.

Keep your record clean

Like it or not, it’s a fact of life that many employers nowadays will check your social media accounts to work out what sort of person you are. And, depending on what your online profile is like, that can be a blessing or a curse.

It can be a difficult balance to strike. Too much evidence of you having a good time and you might be cast as an unreliable party animal who doesn’t really care about work; too little, and you’re a dull grognard sure to drag the office mood down. In general, excise any evidence you find of drunken stupidity or ill-advised rhetoric, and keep any less respectable accounts you may maintain separate from your main personal profiles, and you should be fine.

Don’t let uni fall by the wayside

With all these options before you, you may be tempted to get stuck in and fill your every waking moment with things to boost your employability. It can be surprisingly easy to forget that, for all the tangents you end up pursuing, you are still at university, studying for a degree, and that degree is the most vital part of your application for a huge number of jobs.

So don’t neglect it! Make sure you leave space in between your work experience and your society commitments to put the hours in, do that reading, revise for that test, and, please, for the love of all that’s good and holy, get some sleep. Your diligent work to raise your career profile could all be for naught if it’s at the expense of a solid degree, and, if it comes down to choosing between a solid 2:1 and one more temp job, take the 2:1. They’re called graduate jobs for a reason.

Good luck!

None of these tips are gospel (except the last one). There’s no magic formula for making yourself the perfect applicant. But hopefully you at least have an idea of what you can do to improve your chances, once freshers’ week is over and it’s time to get down to work again. You might even enjoy some of it!

Image courtesy of workingworld.com

Huw Elliott

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