How to increase your employability without being employed
To get a job you need experience, but to get experience you need a job. It’s an age-old paradox. And since competition for paid internships nowadays is higher than ever, you need to be doing everything you can to get your CV to stand out. It can be difficult to secure a job whilst studying (or just after graduating) because of course commitments, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. There are a few ways that you can flesh out your CV without actually being employed at all – here are our top tips on what to do:
1. Take online courses
Most people vaguely understand Google, Linkedin and Excel. But you can stand out if you deepen your knowledge – and you can do it for free! There are free online courses on every topic under the sun, and some will give you a recognisable qualification on completion. Adding this to your CV is a great sign of motivation and commitment and can also pad out some space if you don’t have much experience. We recommend Hubspot Academy and Google Digital Garage as good places to start.
2. Get networking
Networking can sound intimidating, but it can be extremely useful in the long run. Not only will you make useful connections, but you’ll also learn more about how to market yourself – and also about what interests you in other people. Attending networking events will also improve your confidence in yourself, and be a great preparation strategy for job interviews. You can find these just by Googling them, searching for them on LinkedIn or on apps such as Meetup. However, if you suffer from social anxiety or struggle to get out of the house for any other reason, you could try online networking through BumbleBizz. We love it, and it’s a great way to chat to people who you might never have encountered in the ‘Real World’.
3. Pick up a hobby
Blogging is one the best things you can do to improve your employability, because regular articles are readymade evidence of your great content writing skills that you can send to an employer. If you are interested in marketing, then writing a blog on almost any subject and promoting it on social media will give you an insight into what a graduate digital marketing role might be like. Sports are a great option, as they demonstrate you understand the ups and downs that come with working in a team – although that’s not to say that solo sports such as running or yoga aren’t valuable either, as long as it’s something you enjoy. If you really want to step up your hobbies, then aim to do something a bit ‘out there’ – in the startup world it pays to be interested in pushing the limits of what is generally considered the norm and will give employers a reason to looks twice at your CV.
4. Become an ambassador
If you’re still at university, becoming an ambassador is an option for you! Being a student ambassador for your university is the perfect chance to demonstrate your drive and commitment, all without doing too much strenuous work. Working on stalls for events, showing prospecting students around campus and helping on the union desk are all small jobs that need filling by current students. Often some of these jobs will pay or offer other types of compensation, so it can be doubly worth your while applying! Lots of companies (like us) will also have university ambassador schemes, which you can apply to as well.
5. Write stuff
Most universities have their own newspaper and a couple of magazines in production throughout the year and, as we have said before, honing your content and copywriting skills will stand you in good stead for graduate jobs. There is always a reason to improve your written communication, and journalism also contains elements of research with the aim to grab readers and draw them in as quickly as possible. Ask around and find out what you can contribute, whether that’s visuals, games or quizzes or good, old-fashioned, readable content and keep a record of what you do to show to employers later on. If you’ve already graduated, you can reach out to companies who have blogs (like us!) and offer to write a guest post for them. They’ll appreciate the help, and it offers you a chance to make some valuable connections.
6. Read stuff
And we don’t just mean books. Although there are plenty of informative and thought-provoking books on every sector under the sun, it’s just as important to keep up to date with the latest ideas. You can find these in magazines, blog posts or just floating around on LinkedIn - connect with people you admire and read the things they share! If you find something that really gets your cogs whirring, comment on the post and try to start a discussion. It will show that you’re engaged and proactive.
Volunteering can be a flexible way to add work experience to your CV. You could work in a local charity shop, visit care homes, get involved with mentoring schemes or spend a summer volunteering abroad. There are multiple benefits to volunteering, not least helping in your community and feeling as though you are making a difference in the world. You will pick up valuable skills throughout and might even discover new roles that you never thought you would be good at. Volunteering abroad is a great thing to talk about in an interview and demonstrates many different abilities, such as resourcefulness and being unafraid to try something outside of your comfort zone.
8. Study hard
Are you still at university? Then yeah, it might be obvious, but good grades do still mean something. Uni is a lot of fun and getting good grades doesn’t always seem like the most important thing on your agenda, but when you graduate and start searching for interesting jobs you will thank yourself for those extra days going over essays and asking for help from tutors!
And when you’ve got these skills under you belt, you need to make sure you’re selling them properly! Read our guide on CV structure to ensure you make the most out of your experiences.
Need any more help getting a graduate job? Check out the BrighterBox jobs page for the latest roles at startups in London.