Oh the big wide world. It seems we’re put on it to do one thing and one thing only: work. But you know, work isn’t all doom and gloom. Working can actually be something really rewarding (not just money wise) and great things can happen with enough drive, passion and enthusiasm.
But first, we start off with the tricky bit: actually getting a job. Yep, I know, IT’S HARD. So a massive clap to all of you going for, looking for and even, contemplating a career.
It can be hard to know what to start on. Job applications take hours and most of the time, you don’t even get an acknowledgement for your time – it sucks.
So today I’ve come up with a small little guide of tips and tricks on increasing your employability and up selling the main prize, YOU! For each section, I’ve spoken about how I sell myself for my career path to give you an idea how to apply my advice to the skills and achievements that you’ve already got.
First of all, highlight your key achievements.
Whether that be academic, an internship or a time you got an award for something, put them all down!! Make a list of everything you’ve done. I like to keep all my achievements jotted down and when appropriate or asked for in applications, I give them. So academic. Include university courses, colleges and even school. Be make sure to keep it brief but also, delve in to the most recent academic experience a bit more. List your modules. List your awards. But most importantly, highlight the key things you’ve learnt both from the experience of your education AND the syllabus itself.
I’ve highlighted my most recent university modules on both my CV and applications. I’ve put a little bit how the course has contributed to character development and how it also has impacted my career. For the school stuff, I simply listed my A-Levels, my number of GCSEs and the grade range and a few extra curricular things that seem impressive, such as being a prefect and running a club for younger years.
One of the KEY things to standing out in job applications is not just listing everything you’ve done, but how it’s helped you further along your career and how it’s helped you develop as a person.
Next on, we move to volunteering and work experience. This doesn’t mean paid work FYI, but things that you’ve gone out to get and the extra mile you’ve pushed to gain experience. This could be simply a charity event or a student group you were part of. You may have shadowed or interned at a place of work or even, you may be a member of a voluntary public service. Whatever it is, remember to highlight the importance of what you learnt and how you developed. It’s taking your application from “look what I’ve done” to “this is what I can do AND how it helped”. Some of you may be thinking, aaargh but I’ve never volunteered and that’s okay. Sometimes, jobs don’t require work experience BUT it is an invaluable thing to do. And yes, while most people can’t afford to work for free, it doesn’t always mean that. Volunteering can be a short term thing, most of the time only a few days, so it doesn’t have to drive you to debt or slave labour. Interested in nursing or caring? Why not volunteer at your local nursing home for a few Saturdays? Want to get into journalism? Why not write to your local newspaper and see if they’d like an intern for a few days? Fancy yourself as a paramedic one day? Why not do some first aid training or join a service such as St. John’s Ambulance? All little things which can increase your employability massively.
For myself, I’ve done a lot of volunteering and work experience. Most of my writing work and internships are unpaid, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less valuable experience than a paid job, so they fit in to this section. I also have included work experience, shadowing at hospitals and voluntary work with a local enterprise.
Now, think about what makes you stand out from the crowd. What have you done in your life that has impacted you greatly or makes you unique? Now this doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be crazy. It’s a simple thing to think about which always makes a GREAT talking point at interviews. Have you volunteered overseas on a project to help a community? Have you been travelling? Are you captain of your rugby team? You could even have done something as crazy as cooked for someone famous. Whatever it is, think about what makes a good talking point OUTSIDE of the career driven experience. This is great for letting employees know that you’re a well rounded individual who is a) human but also b) memorable.
For me, I always mention my blogging and writing here. Surprisingly, everyone is always really interested to find out more about what I do and for nutrition and Dietetic interviews, I always been commended on my commitment to developing my practice outside the classroom, which is great feedback to hear (and could help you too!)
Then, it’s probably time to highlight paid work that you’ve done over the years. Employees generally would want to know about employment gaps so just be honest! And any job, however big or small, don’t be afraid to put it down and show what you’ve achieved. A shop assistant, a waitress, even a newspaper round. They’re all important stepping stones to working up the career ladder so don’t be ashamed – we all have to start somewhere.
I’ve worked since the age of 13 and I am now technically unemployed for the first time since then at the age of 22. I explain why I am unemployed (basically working full time on placements for university) and then explain how my paid work experience has allowed me to grow over the years. For example, working in retail helped me develop my communication skills with a large amount of people from a wide variety of background, helped me develop problem solving skills and I developed a lot of resilience from working with both staff and customers. I then relate these to how they will be transferable skills in the role I am applying.
Then the big thing that we’re all scared about: interviews.
Interviews can be scary, but a few simple tips can help relax you and make you feel at ease. One of my favourite tips is never ever flap before an interview – just relax. I mean I know, it’s easier said than done, but try not to think about the interview. On my morning, take yourself out for breakfast. Wear your favourite outfit. Watch your favourite tv show. Make yourself feel comfortable, because you’re guaranteed to have a calmer more successful interview if you’re calm in yourself beforehand. Even ask someone for a lift or catch the bus rather than stressing yourself driving or getting stuck in traffic. Nothing worse than the stressy sweat to put you in a negative mood.
I also recommend researching the company that you’re applying for a job at. Look up reviews from workers (I think there’s a site called “ratemyjob” or something along the lines). Read the job and person description again and pick out how your skills fit in well. Look at the companies values and achievements. Have they got a certain promotion or goal being advertised on their main website? Read about it, get some basic facts. They LOVE it when they know you’re interested in working for the company, not just getting the job.
Another tip of mine is keeping a stash of examples of experiences that you can use to answer scenario questions. So have you had a patient experience you can talk about? A successful project you were asked to work on one time? A time when something didn’t go to plan but how you learnt from it and how that’s made you a better person? You’re guaranteed to be asked questions which show off your ability to work and problem solve so do just that – show off! By preparing some answers before then that prevents any ummming and aaaaring whilst you’re trying to flick through your memory on the spot.
And to me, the most important factor, be confident and go in their positive! Even if you’re not feeling confident or positive, let your nursery Nativity acting skills kick in and almost kid yourself that you’re confident. Believe in yourself, because if you’ve prepped and gathered all your information properly you WILL be fine. Remember, there’s nothing to lose and even if you are unsuccessful, just take the experience as a learning opportunity, take any feedback you can get and apply that moving forward.
Oh yeah, and always be yourself. Remember, yourself is the one who will be working in the job so don’t be afraid of who you are. Sometimes, personalities just don’t fit well in to teams and that can be the reason for unsuccess, but do not let that get you down. There’s a perfect team for everyone out their and by being yourself, when you find that click with an employee and you get the job, you’re much more likely to have a positive work life and experience if you’re surrounded by likeminded individuals!
So there we have it! My tips and tricks on how to make yourself employable. I also suggest signing up for LinkedIn and Twitter which are fantastic sites for networking with employees and groups. Please feel free to drop me any questions or messages you may have and I’ll try my best to help.
Remember, as I’ve said before (and I have to hear for myself sometimes), believe in yourself!