Job hunting is not always an easy task, you are competing against a large number of other students for a limited number jobs. While there's no rule book for job searching, here are some mistakes that you need to avoid at all costs!
This may sound a simple instruction. But you’d be surprised how many people fail to follow it (including myself on occasion). And it’s not hard to imagine why. Let’s be frank: applying for jobs is often a tedious and less than inspiring task. It can be hard to get motivation to really ‘sell yourself!’ in that painfully advertising executive sort of way. One method for getting round this is to perform a quick Google search for jobs, scroll swiftly down, and decide none of what you see is for you. You can then claim you’ve looked, and that ‘there’s just really nothing out there for me’. This is tempting. I have done it. But, please, don’t fool yourself! Doing that bare minimum won’t cut it; and when you’re bored out of your mind over summer because you never applied for anything, you’ll feel that a job really would’ve been preferable to regret.
Avoid Being Picky
We value ourselves. We value our time. And as such, the idea of spending our summer doing some job that really doesn’t excite or entice us can seem a challenging – dare I say ‘undignified’ – prospect. But dignity can be a vice as well as a virtue. A lot of people – especially students, the young idealists we are – can, when looking for jobs, set their expectations way too high. They don’t just want to spend their summer doing something; they want to spend it doing something they are passionate about, in love with, that electrifies the very fibbers of their soul...And this, as you can expect, is a big ask for a summer job with which to earn a few extra pounds.
To be clear, I’m not saying you should opt for jobs for which you have no skills or interest. But broadening your horizons, applying for jobs that wouldn’t be your first choice, is a great way to increase the likelihood of getting any job at all. And who knows – when you start working at that chip shop, you may find you have a native passion for frying potatoes after all!
Interviews: Where Modesty Doesn’t Quite Cut It
I’ll let you into a little secret...I don’t like job interviews. Why? Mainly, it’s because I find them deeply counter-intuitive. Like many people, I have spent the last (in my case, twenty) years of my life absorbing the wide-spread idea that one should be modest. That bragging really doesn’t get you anywhere. And in social circles, this is pretty much true. But what’s often hard to realise is that job interviews are not social circles. When being introduced to someone new at a party, you don’t need to tell them that ‘I have a lot of experience making other humans laugh’ – in other words, that you’re funny. If you are, they’ll just notice this through conversation. But job interviews don’t provide that opportunity. As artificial as it may seem, the interviewer has literally no knowledge about you other than what’s on your CV and what you choose to tell them. So you need to treat your interview as though it is the only chance you’ll ever have to tell this person why you – over everyone else – should get this job. Because in fact, it actually is your only chance.
Not Quite Qualified? No Problem
When scrolling through the list of jobs available, you may feel dogged by the depressing feeling that you’re not quite qualified for any of them. You have experience in this field for this job, experience in that field for that one – but you can’t make any of your past experience match up one hundred percent to the requirements of any. There are two reasons not to worry. The first is that, for all you know, you may not (it may be likely that you really don’t) need to fit all the required criteria to get an interview – or even the job. Thus it can be worth applying anyway (exactly what have you got to loose?) The second point is that, with a little ingenuity, it may be possible to curb the experience you do have to fit the needs of the job on offer. You might think that that society you helped run or that fundraiser you organised is pretty unrelated to becoming a waitress in a cafe. But ask yourself what general skills you might have gained that could be applicable elsewhere? Thus, you can say that you worked as part of a team, worked to a deadline, used initiative to solve unexpected problems etc. This is valuable no matter where you learned it. And employers may even appreciate the novelty of someone from a slightly different background.
George Surtees is a Student Job blogger, he is currently in his second year at the University of York studying Philosophy. Check out his articles for Student Voices where he discusses similar topics.