After a long period where employers held all the cards, the advantage may be swinging back to candidates. Employment is on the up, and, for graduates, the recession is essentially over – we’re well into recovery. While students can be a little more confident about their future, it doesn’t mean they won’t have to work hard to get jobs. Long gone are the days when employers just looked for a first class degree from a prestigious university. Maximising your employability now demands balancing academic work with the right mix of work experience and extra-curricular activity to help you stand out. Making the most of your time at university to kick-start your career doesn’t need to come at the expense of your social life and you could make some money along the way. There’s no time like the present and the summer holiday period presents a timely opportunity.
The Sooner The Better
The sooner you begin to consider options and explore all of the available information out there, the closer you will get to those career goals. You will have better understanding of where you want to be and how to get there, so that when you eventually leave university you will be fully prepared to make the successful transition into work.
Get The Best Advice
Visiting your university careers services is a great place to start. They will be able to offer the best advice for your subject and career aims. As well as offering general advice, careers services have strong links with the locality and will be able to offer guidance on the CV-boosting opportunities available on your doorstep.
If you’re not sure what to do, careers services will be able to help you to take steps towards finding out. There are also plenty of free tools out there to help such as Prospects Career Planner at prospects.ac.uk.
Are You Experienced?
Work experience of any kind will give you the CV-boosting material you’ll need on graduation. Whether it’s a formal internship, short-burst of work shadowing, volunteering for your favourite charity or a stint in a hotel over the summer holiday, the most important thing to consider is how to translate your experience into something meaningful for an employer.
Set out with a list of things you’d like to achieve and make sure you stick to them. This may mean having demonstrable examples of team work or problem solving, or getting experience of your chosen sector. As you go along make notes of what you’ve accomplished and learned, so that you don’t forget and have something to refer to when writing your CV, completing applications and preparing for interviews. Remember, resting on your laurels won’t get you far. Invest in your career now by using your time well, ensuring when you leave university you’re more than prepared for a job hunt. Mike Hill is chief executive at Prospects, which helps students and graduates make informed choices about their career and postgraduate options with a range of advice and services.