School leavers and uni students: ways to land your dream job and earn more
5 min | 8 September 2022
For school leavers and university students, finding a job is the first step towards financial independence. While you may not land your dream role on the first attempt, gaining skills from other opportunities could make your work experience more valuable than you realise.
Regardless of where you live or what your talents and aspirations might be, we reveal our top tips to securing a job — as well as some side-hustle ideas to boost your take-home pay.
Look in unusual places to gain transferable skills
Cast your net wide to boost your chances of landing a job with useful experience: search online, visit recruitment agencies, enquire directly with companies you’d like to work for, look at job ads posted in newsagents and Post Offices, and ask friends and family.
If you don’t have much work experience, it’s best to be realistic. Gaining useful skills is crucial and can make you a more employable candidate. But this can be difficult in the early years of employment if you have not had the opportunity to develop these skills to begin with. You could try working in an area outside of your comfort zone for a while. Think about applying for roles where you can develop skills that can be transferred to many roles and companies, such as marketing, sales, customer service and communications.
You might want to look for small or online-based businesses in your area by contacting your local chamber of commerce.
Working for a startup or an established small business could give you hands-on access to different departments (e.g., manufacturing, accounts, and sales). Small business owners may hire students part-time or as interns or apprentices when they need to delegate certain tasks.
Increasingly, students are starting up businesses and apps while still studying, so enquire on campus if they need a resource with your skills and interests.
How to sell yourself beyond your CV
A CV should include a professional summary that highlights in a few sentences the skills that you can bring to the job.
Add relevant key words from the job description into your summary and throughout your CV. This is so that recruitment and job site software can spot you as a match. Don't be tempted to exaggerate or lie though.
If you’ve applied for a job and been invited for an interview now is the time to fine-tune your pitching skills.
Don't despair if you do not have all the skills listed on the job spec. You can still make a good impression by creating a connection with your interviewer.
One way to do this is to talk about scenarios that relay your personal experiences and back up your CV’s strengths. And try to align with the agency or hiring company’s ethos. Check out their press releases and blogs for inspiration, and mirror the language they use (if it makes sense to use it).
Preparation can build confidence. Try presenting a 30-second pitch about yourself in front of a mirror. Then try it out on family or friends. They might remind you of talents and abilities you forgot to mention.
How to get the most out of freelance or gig job sites
There are plenty of freelance jobs sites, advertising jobs in areas ranging from sales, customer service, logistics, coding, marketing, content, web design and video editing to events planning. Given that some freelance jobs are remote, you could work on multiple gigs in your own time.
Bear in mind freelance job sites will probably take a cut from your fees; on the flipside some may help you with tax and national insurance. If you’re freelancing, that means you’re self-employed and likely to need to file a tax return each year.
Many freelance sites will be liable to provide a record of freelancer income generated via their site to HMRC. A copy may also be provided to freelancers to help with their tax return.
Monetise your skills while job searching
There are lots of ways to monetise skills and experience while still looking for that dream job. If you’re bilingual, you could provide language tuition. Those with academic, sporting or music talent could provide lessons to children at their home, a leisure centre or sports club.
Neighbourhood apps can be a good place to find potential customers because you may be able to post an alert without paying for an ad.
If you’ve got some spare time, consider taking a course that could give you a service or product to sell. For example, selling your artwork as a non-fungible token (NFT) after taking a coding course.
If you and a trusted friend or coursemate are entrepreneurial you could consider launching a print-on-demand business (e.g., t-shirts, mugs, blankets, baseball hats). Initially you could sell to fellow students. There are print-on-demand apps and companies that automate much of the process.
Selling second hand as a side-line business
Whether it’s a designer handbag you got for Christmas but never use, some trainers, ski boots or even an old tablet, there’s a growing number of apps where you can sell your stuff for cash. Apps can also be used for selling upcycled or home-made items. Selling on social media sites or creative vendor sites or at a car-boot sale (yes, they still exist!) are other avenues to explore.