Lauren Toulson, History and Sociology, Third Year
At Leeds you’ll have a variety of ways to boost your employability so that by the time you’re ready to enter the working world you’ll be fully equipped.
1. Develop a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is a great tool for helping you to secure the right graduate job after you leave university. It gives you a way to connect with potential employers, highlight the skills that make you employable and showcase what you have managed to achieve during your years at Leeds. Although a LinkedIn profile is not essential for first years, it always helps to start early and it’s definitely a tool to be utilised by second and third years.
2. Career Meetings
Utilise career meetings that are on offer! It is never too early to start thinking about what kind of route you would like to take after uni. If you’re anything like me, then you may not know what type of career you want until the very end of your final year! That isn’t to say you can’t start talking to career professionals that Leeds provides. They can give you guidance and suggestions about how to go about getting work experience, some career options that your course may allow you to explore or other ways to figure out what kind of career you may be suited to.
3. Skill Workshops
At the University of Leeds, you’ll find that the student union and the careers service are always advertising new workshops that you can get involved with. These can range from speaking and oral presentation workshops to learning how to use SSPS software. Although these are great for university, they also help you to stand out in job applications if you have a particular, sought-after skill.
Before all of the introverts skip this step, just hear me out. Networking can sound really intimidating but it doesn’t have to be! Networking can be as simple as connecting with someone’s webinar you attended or reaching out to Leeds alumni who you’d like to get to know more about. It is as simple as building a friendly relationship and continuing to connect every now and again. Why is this such a good idea? If you’re able to connect with someone who is in your dream graduate job or who has connections to a company that you’d love to work with, then the chances are you’ll find out about opportunities first or your name will be put forward when recruiters are looking to fill a position. Of course your credentials are important, but it can often be networking that gets your foot in the door of a competitive industry.
5. Complete an Internship or a Year in Industry
Now this isn’t a necessary step for a lot of students, especially if you don’t need work experience for the career path you’d like to take, but it can set you apart from others when you’re applying for particularly competitive jobs. There are even online internships you can take part in and these can be completed over the summer. For example, the Bright Network and the Forage are platforms that offer virtual internships to gain certificates and help you stand out.
6. Online Courses
Completing an online course is a great option for all students as it shows employers that you will take initiative to learn a skill you’re passionate and interested in. These courses don’t have to take you weeks or months and can be finished within a day, I’d personally recommend Skillshare for quick, effective courses where you’ll receive an online certificate afterwards. Online courses also worked great for me as an introvert in my final year of university as I was able to pick and choose what time I could devote to a new skill, and I could do them from the comfort of my own home. If you’re interested, make sure to check out Coursera as University of Leeds students have access to thousands of courses and free LinkedIn Learning classes.
Employers are always looking for individuals who volunteer and make a positive impact to their local community. Volunteering doesn’t have to take up all of your time and Leeds offers lots of choices. You can use the My Career website to look for all kinds of opportunities. From environmental river clean up days to charity shop social media work, there will be some kind of opportunity to suit you.
8. Part time jobs
Although a part time job might not be possible for everyone, employers are particularly keen to employ individuals who already have some experience. If you’re anything like me and want to dedicate the majority of your time to studying, it is still possible to pick up some shifts now and again from Joblink at the student union. You might find that this little bit of experience will set you apart from others when applying for opportunities after university.
9. Join Societies
You might not think it, but joining a society, any society, often shows an employer that you’re a productive and passionate individual who has been willing to dedicate time to pursuing your interests. It’s also within these societies that you have the ability to apply for leadership roles such as president. Such roles give you lots to talk about during interviews, such as examples of when you have displayed initiative and enthusiasm. Transferable skills are just as important as work experience.
10. Pursue Your Hobbies
Lastly, if you’re looking for a more informal way to boost your employability then pursuing your hobbies is a great way to start. During the first coronavirus lockdown I began a small, online business selling handmade crafts, as many other students did, and this has helped me so much when applying for jobs. By pursuing this hobby and marketing it, I’ve gained so many valuable skills. That’s not to say you have to start a small business to gain employability skills. If you like reviewing movies, start an online blog. If you’re interested in embroidery, upload pictures of your creations to an Instagram account. Or if you really like to write, get an article published in Her Campus or the Leeds Human Rights Journal. Something as simple as a hobby may develop into your most unique selling point in an interview.
The biggest take away from these ten tips is that there are so many different ways to make the most of opportunities at Leeds. From careers guidance to volunteering, you’ll hopefully leave university with a full CV and a number of job offers!