Are you looking to get a headstart and skyrocket your job prospects? We’ve gathered the 10 tips to help you boost your career and job prospects so you can get ahead whilst you’re still at university. Read on to find out how you can maximise your potential when you graduate.
- Build a network
- Develop relevant skills
- Get work experience
- Build an online presence
- Talk to experts
- Go to career fairs
- Build a CV
- Prepare for job interviews
- Think about alternatives
- Don’t neglect your hobbies
1. Build a network
Never undervalue the worth of building up a strong network. Knowing people in the industry you’re interested in helps you learn, helps you get your voice heard and even helps you find opportunities which you may otherwise not know about. Connections don’t have to be with industry leaders, you could also meet with people who want to join the same career path as you. A great way to build networks whilst at university is to join societies and clubs. There, you meet like-minded people with similar interests who want to get ahead in their careers too.
Whilst networking is a skill and it takes time to learn how to speak to people in a professional but social manner, you can easily build your networking capability by attending more networking events and reading our advice for networking.
Get access to exclusive networking events, advice, e-learning and more with your free Bright Network membership. Sign up today to start becoming a networking pro!
2. Develop relevant skills
When applying for graduate jobs, employers don’t expect you to have much experience. Instead, they’re often looking for transferable and hard skills which are relevant to the job you’re applying to and demonstrate you’d make a good candidate.
It’s never too early to start building up the skills you need for your career, so why not think about the skills you need for the job you’re interested in and start practising? This could be as simple as joining a coding class or volunteering so you learn about teamwork. If you’re not sure about the specific job you want to do, focus on some great transferable skills which are relevant to most jobs, for example, leadership, organisation and communication. If you know you’re lacking in one of these skills, spend some time working on it. Demonstrating you’ve identified a weakness in yourself and have put effort into improving your skill set is highly desirable to employers and looks great in your applications.
Transferable skills are highly sought-after by top graduate employers. Start building your transferable skillset with this free e-learning course.
3. Get work experience
Whilst you’re not typically expected to have much experience when you graduate, having some examples of times you’ve worked is a great way to make yourself more desirable as a candidate. There are many work experience options you can explore whilst completing your degree, for example, volunteering, internships, industrial placements and shadowing. Lots of these options can be built around your schedule and other commitments you have, plus you gain valuable insights into a workplace and a sector you’re interested in.
Read more about work experience.
4. Build an online presence
Make sure you’ve got a positive online presence. Background checks can include your social media pages and internet presence, so consider not posting or sharing something that you wouldn’t want a recruiter or potential employer to read. Building up a positive online presence expands beyond this and includes making sure you have an updated profile on websites like LinkedIn. This is particularly important because it acts like a second, more detailed CV where you can highlight your main accomplishments and the events you’ve attended. Having the basics started whilst you’re at university makes it easier to build on this when you graduate and have more substantial professional experiences to post about.
Want a great starting point to make your LinkedIn profile exceptional? Read our five essentials to create a great LinkedIn profile
5. Talk to experts
You can learn a lot from the experts around you. This might be using your connections, through family and friends, your university, career events or networking, to speak to representatives either in the sector you’d like to work in or in a job that interests you. Another expert that you have access to is the career service at your university. Your career services have trained members of staff ready to help you reach your goals, so asking them any questions you have or for general advice could be very useful to you and your career.
6. Go to career fairs
Careers fairs are events where employers who are interested in hiring graduates congregate to educate you on the options available to you. This could be in-person or virtual depending on the careers fair you attend. Some careers fairs are organised by your university so keep an eye out for them, but others are organised by external companies, for example, Bright Network’s FESTIVAL. It’s important that you attend careers fairs because they are a great opportunity to speak to representatives of the companies you’d like to work for. You can ask them questions and they can give you advice and recommend graduate schemes and internship opportunities available.
7. Build a CV
Having a CV that outlines your experience is necessary for applying for a job. As a student, employers don’t expect you to have much experience, just some transferable skills that you can prove you’ve acquired, whether professionally, academically or personally. If you’re struggling to know where to begin or want to boost your existing CV, learn how to write a CV. This guide also helps you with the structure by providing some downloadable CV templates for you to use.
8. Prepare for job interviews
If you’ve managed to get through the first round of a job application and have been invited to interview congratulations! Being prepared is a crucial part of demonstrating to the employer why you’re the best candidate, especially if you haven’t experienced many interviews before. A basic part of preparing for your interview includes reading up about the company’s history and recent accomplishments. If you know the name of the people interviewing you, looking them up to understand what their jobs are and what they’ve done in the company can give you some great talking points during the interview. You should also understand the scope of the job and what you would be expected to do. To do this, read over the job description and read our career profiles which give you an outline of the responsibilities and tasks involved in many jobs
For more in-depth advice, you can read the best way to prepare for an interview to make sure you’re ready.
Looking for an internship, placement or graduate scheme? Browse available opportunities and take your first step towards a graduate career you'll love.
9. Think about alternatives
You might have your heart set on a particular career. This is great! Having direction can be very helpful. However, some career paths are very difficult and not always achievable. It’s good to have a backup plan of other jobs that you’d be interested in if your ideal career doesn’t succeed. Consider planning out two or three alternative jobs including the experience you need to get there and the skills required to do them. This way, even if your first or second choice doesn’t work out, you’re prepared and can fall back on your other options.
10. Don’t neglect your hobbies
Hobbies are often a way to relax and decompress from your day of studying, so for the sake of your well-being, putting in the time to continue your hobbies is a good idea. However, hobbies can also have a crucial role in your employability and job prospects because they show commitment, act as a good talking point in your interview and teach you transferable skills. For example, being on a sports team teaches you teamwork and strategy whilst writing fiction teaches you communication and creativity. Even hobbies that you might not think are important are teaching you transferable skills - from knitting, you get attention to detail and patience! Keep up your hobbies to boost your CV and keep yourself mindful and relaxed during your time at university - they become even more important once you enter the world of work.
To Sum Up
University is a great time to start thinking and preparing for your working life. Ways to prepare include building your network, developing new skills, getting work experience and talking to experts. Taking these steps ideally places you to secure a job you like in the sector you’re interested in, meaning you’re already ahead of the competition. Want more tips for freshers? Head to our freshers' hub to get all the tips and tricks you need to help you make the most of your first year of university.