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How to prepare for your job search

If you’re currently studying at university, the prospect of applying for jobs now will probably seem a long way away.

But while it’s not necessary to have secured a job before you graduate, career planning at university can be the difference between finding the job of your dreams and leaving without any idea of what you want to do.

There are a number of very easy ways to prepare for your job search throughout university and enrich your studies at the same time. Here’s how:

Get networking

You’ve probably heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” – and to some extent, it’s true.

Many students will try to avoid networking at all costs – but whether it’s simply by signing up to LinkedIn, or attending events like careers workshops, professional networking or careers fairs, starting to build a strong professional network will only be beneficial to you in the long run.

By the time you’re in your final year, or once you have graduated, re-connecting or engaging with your network will be much easier than building one from scratch; and will be hugely beneficial to your job search and future career development.

Use your career services

Despite being a completely free resource, a surprisingly high number of students fail to use their university’s career services. Most universities will have a dedicated team who will be able to help you decide what you want to do, explore different career options, find an internship or work placement, and work on your CV.

Rather than leaving it until the end of your final year (when final exams and dissertations will be at the forefront of your mind), why not book a consultation with a member of your university’s career services in your first or second year? It’s never too early to start deciding what career you might want to do once you graduate!

Build up your skills

For many employers, a degree isn’t enough – and they will be looking for a range of other skills you’ve gained outside of your studies.

Building up your skill set at university doesn’t have to come at the expense of your studies or university experience – and in fact, the range of opportunities open to you at university will help to develop your skills, enrich your education, and invest in your future at the same time.

Whether it’s by getting involved in extracurricular activities, learning a new skill in your spare time (such as coding or a foreign language), or even trying to implement skills such as time management or teamwork in your day-to-day life, developing your skills is a great way to build on your CV and get yourself prepared for the job search post-graduation.

Work, volunteer or intern

Especially in your first or second year, when the academic demands aren’t quite so high, taking on something outside of your studies will only help to bolster your job application.

Working part-time in a job either on or off-campus will not just help to top up your bank balance, but can provide you with a variety of skills to add to your CV. Likewise, volunteering at university has been proven to combat depression, increase self-confidence and boost motivation – plus it will teach you a number of transferable skills that will be impressive to graduate employers across the board.

In the summers between university, undertaking a work placement or internship in an area that you think you are interested in will allow you to experience what it would really be like, as well as giving you the chance to network and gain invaluable industry experience.

Think about your future

Just thinking about what you want to do, and researching your areas of interest, can be a great place to start preparing for your job search.

If you’re in your first or second year, try talking to friends and family; they will be able to give you a good insight into what you should do as a career. As they know you and your skill set so well, they will be invaluable in helping you to decide what kinds of industries and roles you would enjoy and would be good at.

If you’re in your final year, there’s no need to panic about securing your dream job before you’ve graduated – but conducting some thorough research will be hugely beneficial. Check out a range of graduate jobs websites and careers advice blogs, and think about what your skills and interests would be best-suited to.

Whether you’re in your first or final year, there are things you can be doing to prepare for your job search now – without neglecting your work or missing out on the social side of university.

Browse the latest Graduate Jobs on Give A Grad A Go.

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