How to increase your employability without being employed
It’s that classic conundrum – to get a job you need experience, but to get experience you need a job. Competition for jobs nowadays is higher than ever, so you need to be doing everything you can to get your CV to stand out. It can be difficult to secure a job whilst studying because of various course commitments, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. There are a few ways that you can flesh out your CV without actually being employed at all – here is our best advice for how to go about it:
1. Join societies
University is full of opportunities, so don’t be one of those students that barely explores their union building, or has no idea that their academic school has a pretty decent netball team. Seek out the different clubs and societies and try a few out. At most universities there will be variety of options available, from the more academic (such as debating, marketing or enterprise) to sports (football, basketball or maybe even quidditch). Joining a society should be enjoyable and a great social perk, so make sure you choose something, or a few things, that really speak to you and make you want to invest your time in them. If you have the time and the commitment, you could aim to help run the societies – those interested in financial careers might want to be treasurer, while those heading towards marketing could be marketing officer.
2. Make use of electives
If you are the type of person who wants to keep their options open, then why not choose electives outside of your core subject? This might not be possible for all universities or courses, but many do allow you a few opportunities throughout your three or four years to choose your own modules. While most students use these wild card modules for classes within their academic school, it doesn’t hurt to have a look at electives in other schools. You could pick up a language, do an English module to help your writing, or maybe graphic design if you miss doing art at A level. There are no right or wrong answers for what you should pick, but it can be a great chance to fill a gap in your skillset before you graduate.
3. Pick up a hobby
If you prefer to manage you own time rather than turn up on appointed days for society meetings, then consider starting a hobby on your own terms. Blogging is one the best things you can do to improve your employability, because regular articles are readymade evidence of your great content writing skills that you can send to an employer. If you are interested in marketing, then writing a blog on almost any subject and promoting it through social media will give you an insight into what a graduate digital marketing role might be like. Sports are a great option, as it shows that you understand the ups and downs that come with working in a team – that isn’t to say that solo sports such as running or yoga aren’t valuable either, so long as it’s something you enjoy. If you really want to step up your hobbies, then aim to do something a bit ‘out there’ – in the startup world it pays to be interested in pushing the limits of what is generally considered the norm and will give employers a reason to looks twice at your CV.
4. Be an ambassador
With events happening at universities throughout the year there are countless opportunities for you to get involved. Being a student ambassador for your university is the perfect chance to demonstrate your drive and commitment, all without doing too much strenuous work. Working on stalls for events, showing prospecting students around campus and helping on the union desk are all small jobs that need filling by current students. Often some of these jobs will pay or offer other types of compensation, so it can be doubly worth your while applying!
5. Write stuff
Most universities have their own newspaper and a couple of magazines in production throughout the year and, as we have said before, honing your content and copywriting skills will stand you in good stead for graduate jobs. There is always a reason to improve your written communication, and journalism also contains elements of research with the aim to grab readers and draw them in as quickly as possible. Ask around and find out what you can contribute, whether that’s visuals, games or quizzes or good, old-fashioned, readable content and keep a record of what you do to show to employers later on.
Volunteering can be a flexible way to add work experience to your CV. You could work in a local charity shop, visit care homes, get involved with mentoring schemes or spend a summer volunteering abroad. There are multiple benefits to volunteering, not least helping in your community and feeling as though you are making a difference in the world. You will pick up valuable skills throughout and might even discover new roles that you never thought you would be good at. Volunteering abroad is a great thing to talk about in an interview and demonstrates many different abilities, such as resourcefulness and being unafraid to try something outside of your comfort zone.
7. Study hard
Yeah it might be obvious, but good grades do still mean something. The only excuse for less than stellar grades at uni is a ton of great work experience, so if you aren’t in a position do an internship or something similar, then make sure you knuckle down in the library. University is a lot of fun, and getting good grades doesn’t always seem like the most important thing on your agenda, but when you graduate and start searching for interesting jobs you will thank yourself for those extra days going over essays and asking for help from tutors!
Need any more help getting a graduate job? Check out the BrighterBox jobs page for the latest roles at startups in London.