By Ben Dracup, SEO Manager at Minty Digital.
For many students, choosing a university is the first step in a long journey of becoming employable. They often choose career outcomes over academic focus, enrolling at a university because of its prestige and statistics relating to employability. Can you blame them? The job market is dynamic and competitive, so it’s only natural that students want to ensure that the years they spend in preparation for graduate life will allow them to get a good job.
Despite this, many students graduate and feel woefully unprepared for professional work, leaving them wondering where they went wrong. We want to ease your concerns in this article, providing a series of suggestions to help improve student employability.
If you are a Professor, Educator, Teacher or Lecturer and want to learn more about how you can help improve your student’s employability, discover this guide from Stratx Simulations.
Ask experts for advice
The best way to learn is simply to ask people who know more than you.
Your university’s careers service is a place you should visit at the start of your student life, not at the end. The advice they give will be a mixture of short, medium, and long term strategies, so if you go there just before graduating, you will not be able to maximise their expertise.
Ask for advice about your CV, interviewing techniques, how to make good impressions, and what questions you can ask to learn more about prospective roles and why they might be a good fit for you.
Take online courses in your spare time
Short courses are one of the best ways to expose yourself to new ideas, absorb information, and improve your skills. The variety of subjects you can find to learn about is endless, and in many cases, completely free. Of course, you can pay to subscribe to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Skillshare or Udemy, but you can also leverage loads of free material from Coursera, edX and FutureLearn.
The course you choose doesn’t need to be related to the thing you are studying, and that’s because employers see your initiative and ambition reflected in how you use your free time.
As above, showing initiative makes you attractive to employers, who want self-motivated individuals that don’t need mollycoddling. There’s no better way to show that you are prepared to make a difference without seeking personal gain than to volunteer your time for free.
Take a trip to Career Services again and see if they have any positions available (editor: or RUSU!), or look online at organisations like Workaway and Helpx and see if they have anything available in your area.
Take up a hobby
What do you do when you’re not studying? If you just like to binge Netflix or play Xbox, you might not want to add that to your CV. However, if you play instruments, read a lot, do photography, like to paint, go hiking, or have some interesting hobby, it’s worth sharing that with a potential employer.
Having hobbies shows employers that you have initiative, are dedicated to learning something, and approach activities with a long term growth mindset.
Get a part-time job
Whilst studying, many students are forced to take part-time jobs to support their endeavours. This is a great way to show potential employers that you can manage your time, multiple responsibilities, and appreciate the value of earning your own money.
Internships, weekend jobs, and work placements are all going to help you develop your work ethic when you enter the workplace. In many cases, students go on to work for the company that employed them as a student, climbing the ranks into more senior positions.
Digital and physical networking
Consider the phrase ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’. This is why networking is vital. Often recruiters visit universities to meet keen and talented individuals, but with the world going even more digital, it’s important that you are active on websites like LinkedIn and Angel.co. For those willing to invest in order to access high-level individuals, consider joining a chartered institute, or buying tickets for conventions.
Work on confidence, charisma, and other soft skills
For some, charm comes completely naturally. For others, it’s a work in progress. But hey, that’s fine. Remember that when you get an interview, you’re there on merit, for the hard work you’ve put in building up your CV. The business sees your potential and wants to know more.
The interview stage might then seem incredibly daunting to many, but with a bit of personal work on confidence, speech, and asking good questions, you can impress any interviewer. If you don’t get the job, don’t take it personally, just accept there was a stronger candidate. Ask for feedback and constructive criticism, and use them as fuel for the next interview.
Consider that during the Covid-19 world, most interviews take place on video calls, giving you the opportunity to stay in the comfort of your home.
Learn a second language
A sure-fire way to multiply your value to employers is to speak multiple languages, especially if your second language is Spanish, French, German, or Chinese. Not only speaking the language, but demonstrating the dedication it takes to become bilingual is a fantastic attribute that employers take kindly to.
Thanks to free apps like Duolingo, getting started is free and easy.
Spend time on job sites to better understand employer needs
Like football coaches study the other team, it’s important that you research employers. If you’ve got your sights set on a handful of specific businesses, it’s your job to know all you can about them. Generally speaking, however, we advise you to spend time on job sites like Indeed and Monster, reading job descriptions and learning what employers are looking for in roles that interest you. (editor: we would also recommend MyJobsOnline, assessible from the Careers site)
Perfect your CV
Last, but not least, we need to talk about your CV, resumé, or portfolio. When it comes to applying for jobs, it’s important that your CV is ready to send out. Keeping it up to date is key.
The main things you want the information on your CV to be is:
- Correctly spelt
With all of these tips, you’re sure to boost your employability and make a great start to your career!