July 1st marks the beginning of a new financial year and if you’d like your bank account to look a bit healthier over the next 12 months of study, here are 10 tips to increase your employability (and hopefully income).
Try and find as much casual work as possible
For the fulltime uni student, a casual job is both the most manageable and most attainable form of employment available to you. On top of that, if you can land a casual job in or related to your field of study, it’ll net you valuable experience that will be a serious asset when it comes to finding a full-time job post-graduation.
To find a casual job in your field of choice, try contacting relevant businesses and organizations to see if they have any casual positions or internships available. Also try talking to some professionals at your uni; they might have contacts or connections that could help you out.
LinkedIn isn’t the average uni student’s first port of call when looking for a job or internship, but professionals use it for a reason. The site can be used to build up a network of valuable contacts within your desired field, and it may result in you getting offers that you wouldn’t have received otherwise.
If you do set up a LinkedIn profile, make sure that it’s professional and tidy, and has information about your experience and goals. Try to network with people that you think could help further your career, but be careful not to harass strangers just because they’re in the same field as you.
Try some freelance work
In the case of certain professions such as writing, IT, website design etc. freelance work can be a great way to both gain experience and build up a portfolio of work. Freelance work can be tricky to find, but the internet is definitely your friend if you’re looking. Start increasing awareness of your professional brand by using sites like LinkedIn, and you could even create yourself a website to display your brand.
The ways to look for and subsequently acquire freelance work really depend on the field you’re working in, so think about what you’re hoping to work as, and how you can market that to companies/individuals.
It may seem frustrating to work for nothing, but volunteer work can help you develop valuable skills that will definitely help when it comes to landing a fulltime job. Team-work, communication, and relationship-building are just some of the skills that you can gain and develop through volunteer work, and coincidentally those are skills that most employers are looking for. It doesn’t even need to be work in a specific field; you’ll gain the skills anyway.
Learn a second language
It’s nigh on impossible to express how much your employability skyrockets if you can speak certain languages. For example, speaking French or Italian may not earn you any brownie points in all interviews, but Mandarin or Spanish? Considering those are (respectively) the language of modern international business and the second most widely spoken language in the world (right behind Mandarin), fluency in either one paints ‘HIRE ME’ on your chest in fluorescent colours.
That said, it’s worth keeping in mind that some companies will have little to no use for a bilingual employee, so again, think about the field you’re working in before forking out for language classes. And also remember that even in this world of instant gratification, learning a second language may take a while…
Check your digital footprint
This should be common knowledge by now but it seems like some people just aren’t getting the message; potential employers will search for you. They will find you on social media, and if they don’t like what they see, they won’t hire you. Check your Facebook, Twitter, and any other sites you use regularly for inappropriate statuses, non-flattering photos, anything that could erode an employer’s opinion of you as a potential employee.
It also wouldn’t hurt to do a Google search on yourself and see what pops up; you never know what Google might have stored, ready to ruin your job prospects.
Network with peers
While networking with professionals is a great way to increase the size of your net when looking for jobs, your professional network should really begin with the people alongside you. You’re presumably studying similar things, which means that post-graduation you’ll be in the same or at least related fields, so it’s a good idea to connect with them now while you’re on each other’s radars.
Besides, you may find that connecting with peers may have immediate benefits; they might know of a casual job or internship available, or have other valuable knowledge to share with you in regards to employment opportunities.
Build a professional image
This sounds tricky, but building up a reputation for yourself as a professional individual is simpler than it sounds. Tailor your interactions with others, whether it’s by phone, email, text, or in person. Create positive first impressions by demonstrating a professional attitude, whether you’re talking to peers, a lecturer/tutor, or an industry professional. You never know who might take notice, and take it into account when considering who to offer an internship/casual position to.
Work on developing your skills; both professional and personal
To get any job you’ll need two sets of skills; the skills specific to your potential job, and a more general set of personal skills, such as self-motivation, the ability to work in a team etc. It’s assumed that your continuing studies will provide opportunities to work on the first set of skills, but it’s up to you alone to develop your personal skills. As mentioned, volunteer work is a good option for working on teamwork skills, and many clubs and organisations exist to help people work on skills like relationship-building and communication.
Don’t be (too) picky
Saving the simplest for last, one of the most important things to remember is that if you’re still studying and want cash, you probably can’t afford to be too picky with employment. Even the most menial job will provide you with something you can use in the future, whether it’s valuable skills, or knowledge relevant to being part of a workplace.
Obviously you want to land a job in your field of choice but the reality is that you won’t always be able to, and for the moment you might be better off taking what you can get (provided you are not being taken advantage of) and using it to your advantage so that when you do get offered a job in your field of choice, you’re prepped and ready.