Reaching university is a significant milestone that many people, young and old, work towards. However, just graduating does not seem to be enough anymore. The amount of students that graduate is increasing every year. Coupled with the fact that many economies are struggling to recover from the 2008 Global Recession, it is becoming increasingly difficult for graduates to find jobs. This is the reason that employability has become such a critical aspect in looking for work. In order to get a job these days, it is imperative that you never stop looking to improve yourself.
1. Start Early
It is extremely important that you know where you want to be when you graduate. Take advantage of the career services that your institution provides as they may not help you once you leave. Knowing where you want to be will make sure you remain focused on the things that will improve your employability.
The graduate job market is very competitive these days, so it is likely that your degree will not be enough to get you a job. You can expect potential employers to look at your experience – sometimes over and above your skills – to judge your employability. It is evident that if you have just come out of university it is unlikely that you have had much working experience. Nonetheless, this is a problem that can easily be solved. You should look for summer placements, and if possible do a year in industry as part of your degree.
The experience you get from placements and internships can be vital in bridging the gap between degree and career.
3. Learn a new language
Becoming multi-lingual can give you an immense advantage in finding a job and improving your employability. If you can speak another language – for example, Mandarin – this could open up careers in China. You will also have an advantage over other applicants there because you will be able to speak your native language. Being multi-lingual could also give you the opportunity to work for multinational companies as they are always working with foreign businesses and investors.
Apart from the main global languages (e.g English, French and Spanish), you could also look to learn the language of emerging economies that will help your employability in the future.
4. Get involved with teams and societies
There are some skills that seem to be a standard requirement when looking for a job, such as teamwork and leadership. What better way to show that you have these attributes by joining your local team and societies at university? This does not just apply to sports teams – there are many others that you can join that will give you the vital skills you need in life. Societies are as equally important as you will still work with people and develop teamwork, interpersonal and other key skills.
You should not be satisfied with just being in the society or team, you should look to apply for higher positions such as team captain. This will not only show that you have leadership skills but that you are also ambitious.
5. Become part of your Student Union
This is certainly one of the best ways for students to increase their employability. As part of the student union, you could be part of a group of people that will be in charge of dealing with the entire student body (this could be more than 20,000 people). You will be able to develop a lot of skills as part of the student union from communication to project management to leadership. You may find yourself doing many interesting things from fighting for student rights to dealing with local community.
6. Have a web presence
The internet is a brilliant resource. You could look to set up your own website to create an impressive interactive CV/résumé that will help to up your employability. It is no longer a requirement to hire an expert to build your website – you could use WordPress and its vast amount of free and premium themes to create your CV in a matter of hours. There are also many website that allow you to build and host a CV on their subdomain. A well-built site could greatly improve your employability.
7. Take a short course or enroll in workshops
As already mentioned, your degree may not be enough to land you a good job. You could look to expand your education with short courses or workshops to gain recognised qualifications. These short courses can be taken alongside your degree, but a word of warning: you should make sure you will be able to deal with the workload. The course can relate to your degree, or you can take a completely new one to develop your skill set.
8. Improve Computer Skills
The world we live in is a technological one and so any job from secretary to CEO requires some form of computer competence. Employers are likely to ask about your computer skills, they are likely to enquire about your competence and proficiency with certain software. Having only basic computer skills can put you on the bottom of the pile. Get acquainted with the most commonly used programs and maybe even complete a course to become professionally accredited.
9. Interview Well
Interviews are your first chance to impress your potential employers and as you know, first impressions last. One of the most important things is to stay calm; interviewers are likely to sense nervousness. You should also look to be prepared, look at common questions and rehearse them in front of a mirror. You may also want to brush up on the information of your potential employers such as turnover and international projects.
10. Improve communication
Communication is so important; all employees need it – even the most inexperienced workers. You should always know how to ask your seniors for help. You will need to be able to express yourself professionally yet concisely. Excellent verbal skills are essential in conveying yourself to your bosses and co-workers. Written skills are also essential. You must be able to use charts and graphs to illustrate statistics and key figures as well as write reports.