The job market for graduates is extremely competitive. You’ve probably been told this many times but unfortunately, for you it’s more true than it ever has been. Having a good degree from a top university may not be enough to land your dream job anymore. However, this doesn’t mean you need to panic! There are a number of ways to boost your prospects and give you the edge over your peers.
Clearly, getting an internship at a great company in the summer or doing a year placement in industry are great ways to boost your employability. That’s obvious! However, there are other things you could be doing at university (which aren’t always 'big' things!) that will help you differentiate yourself for when you start applying for jobs. It’s about knowing what can help you and making sure you take as many opportunities as you can when they are presented to you. Here are our top tips…
Boost Your IT Skills
In the modern world, IT skills are crucial and many businesses expect you to be competent across a wide range of software, especially Microsoft Office. Therefore, to get a step ahead of your peers, make sure your IT skills are up to scratch and you know your spreadhseet filters from your pivot tables. Taking an online course is the perfect way to sharpen up your skills and with the top providers, will earn you an official certification - That will really make you stand out against the other 100 interviewees, all with the same degree mark as you!
Filtered is one of the leaders in offering online courses which can train you in using Microsoft Office programmes in a business environment. The really clever thing about their courses is that they work out what you do know and don’t know before the course starts, so they fill in the gaps. You get a qualification from a widely recoginised organisation, which is useful and looks strong on your CV. The courses are really good value for money as well (less than the cost of a night out) and could seriously help increase your earning potential.
Read publications and newspapers
With any job or career that you want to go into, employers want candidates who are aware of the issues and news surrounding their industry. Even having a good knowledge of current affairs can help you to stand out in an interview. Therefore, reading newspapers (the broadsheets) and any publications relevant to the career you are considering is definitely a good idea.
If you are looking for a great knowledge of economic and political affairs, there is no better magazine than The Economist. What’s more, they have great features and it’s always a really interesting read. If you want to work in the City, it is definitely worth subscribing to.
The Economist do great student deals as well and you can get 12 copies for £12 with free gifts like a portable phone charger or bluetooth speakers - bargain!
Attend Job/Application Related Workshops
All universities will offer some sort of careers support which you have access to. This will differ at each university but many offer workshops which help you with the application process, from working out which career you are keen to do, through to helping you with your interview technique. These are often free for students or will at least be heavily discounted.
It is definitely worth getting all the help you can get with regards to the application process. The more workshops you attend, the better your applications will be and the more confident you will feel about the whole thing.
GET INVOLVED IN SOCIETIES
It’s always good to show employers that you have interests outside of study/work – however, enjoying going to the pub doesn’t really add much value. That’s why you need to get involved in a society and, better than that, become part of a committee. Helping run a society will show that you have organisational skills, people skills and are happy to put yourself up for positions of responsibility. Even if it’s organising a trip to the pub, I’m sure you can get a bit creative with how you word it to impress employers.
Getting involved with any society is good but some stand out more than others. Helping run an entrepreneurial society or a charitable one looks really good on the CV!
Actually go to the Careers Fairs
It is always worth going to the careers fairs that your university or the student union put on. If you are unsure of what career you want to go into, it’s a great way to see what opportunities are out there. Plus, you will get the chance to talk to some of the top graduate employers, who you might go on to apply to.
There are often many careers fairs throughout the year that offer different things. Many subject courses organise their own fair, so students of a specific course can talk to employers who are relevant to them.
If I haven’t managed to convince you to go to the next Careers Fair at your university, there are normally lots of freebies there too… hope this helps!
Get a Job
It doesn’t matter what job you have - it’s better to have a job than not. It means you will have more money to enjoy uni with. Furthermore, it’s something else which gives you experience of the working environment and looks good on your CV. Obviously, you are primarily at university to get a good degree, so you don’t want to over-commit to a job. However, I find it hard to believe that any student is too busy to do at least a few hours of work per week. If not, the university holidays total about 5 months, so you have plenty of time to get a job then.
In the summers, if you can get a job or even an internship which gives you experience which relates to what you want to do in the future, that’s even better!
Building up relationships with the right people is crucial to getting a job, so if you can start to do this at university, this will give you the upper hand compared to your peers. The phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ holds true and if you are able to effectively network, you will be able to generate more opportunities for yourself.
A good place to start is to create a LinkedIn profile and start making connections. Also, it is good to talk to any personal contacts to get job seeking advice and maybe even some introductions.