Increasing 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. With more graduates on the job market than ever before (thanks, COVID), 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, LinkedIn Learning, 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. You'll make useful connections, learn more about how to market yourself, and also understand what interests you in other people. Pre-COVID, we found that attending networking events improved our self-confidence, in addition to preparing us for job interviews. Nowadays, restrictions on public gatherings make face-to-face networking more challenging, but luckily there are a few online alternatives! Take Bumble Bizz, for example - we love it, and it’s a great way to chat to people who you might never have encountered in the ‘Real World’.
LinkedIn can also be a great place to showcase your online portfolio and get involved in conversations with other grads and industry professionals. Click here for some insider tips on how to get started!
3. Pick up a hobby
Graphic design, creative coding, circumnavigating the world on horseback, anything that you're doing outside of your course and are committed to is worth putting on your CV.
Blogging is by far the most popular hobby around and for good reason - it's one of the best things you can do to improve your employability. Articles are ready-to-go evidence of your great content writing skills that you can send to an employer. If you're 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 too, as they demonstrate your understanding of the ups and downs that come with working in a team – although that’s not to say that solo sports such as cycling 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. It'll definitely give employers a reason to looks twice at your CV too.
4. Become an ambassador
If you’re still at university, becoming an ambassador is an option for you! Being a student ambassador for your uni is the perfect chance to demonstrate your drive and commitment, all without doing too much strenuous work. 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 will also have university ambassador schemes, which you can apply to as well.
5. Get writing
Most universities have their own newspaper and a couple of magazines in production throughout the year - use this as a chance to hone in on your content and copywriting skills. It's also a great way to showcase your written communication and research skills outside of academia. Ask around and find out what you can contribute, whether that’s visuals, games, quizzes, or good old-fashioned articles. Whatever you get involved in, make sure to 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 up
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 inspires you, 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. While options are somewhat limited at the moment, organisations like NHS Volunteer Responder are recruiting people without medical experience who might be able to help out with the vaccination effort. 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.
8. Study hard
It might be an obvious one, but good grades do still mean something. It's been a tough couple of years for students, but continue putting your all into what you're studying! All you can do is try your best and make the most out of all the academic resources available to you. By the end of it, you'll be giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for surviving uni during one of the most unforgiving times ever.
Once you’ve got these skills under your 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 help getting a graduate job? Check out BrighterBox's jobs page for the latest roles at top London startups.