Securing a job and entering the world of work can be a daunting time. It’s an entirely new environment in which all the social rules are different, and failing to meet those expectations impacts a whole host of other people – and costs you a source of income. If you’re confused about what’s required of you, then you wouldn’t be alone.
But if you’re equipped with the right knowledge, getting a job can be incredibly rewarding! Here are 8 ways to make yourself more professionally-attractive to employers.
1. Have previous experience
Employers are looking for people who know the right stuff, and know when to do it right. You’re going to look far more appealing as a candidate if you’ve got proven experience of the job you’re going for than a candidate who is going in completely blind.
If this stops you from getting the job entirely, then hold back on applying for now – instead, invest your time in completing a work placement or an internship if possible, before applying for the same sort of job again.
2. Research the companies
Their vision is what you are tasked with implementing – so make sure you know what their vision is. Spend time online and ask around about the company you want to be employed by. Make sure that you can answer key questions about the company before you go to the interview or start your job.
What sort of work environment are they offering? Is it relaxed, social; or are you going to be expected to keep your head down and hammer out those results?
What are they most proud of? Do they have any case studies you can reference in your interview?
Which skills are they expecting you to employ most? If you’re working with certain software, do you have the right level of experience?
Are they expecting you to engage with the company at large or do they expect you to stick to your own role?
3. Have volunteer experience
Although it’s not always possible, given how reliant people might be on earning an income, volunteer work is always looked upon favourably by employers.
Volunteering shows that you’re an engaged, motivated person, working on projects because they should be done – not just because your bank account wants you to. It portrays you as a charitable person, which can never be a bad thing in an employer’s mind.
Finally, volunteer work can often give you the sorts of skills your employers may want from you. These you might have picked up from work experience, but not through formal education, thus helping to plug a skills gap that might have otherwise hindered your job prospects.
4. Take part in extracurricular activities
Like volunteering, engaging with extracurricular activities – for example in university societies, or through institutions you may have been part of like Guiding – makes your CV look much more favourable than someone who simply eats, sleeps and works.
On a personal level, it means you have a lot more to talk about, both in an interview and to your colleagues. Like volunteering, it may also give you ‘soft skills’ that you miss out on by not engaging with the world.
5. Enjoy your hobbies
This one is a bit similar to the previous point, but there’s an important distinction to make. It’s certainly true that having a hobby unrelated to your work means you’re a more well-rounded person, but, like the extracurricular activities, it allows you to talk to others about more than just your job. It’s something for you to bond over with similarly-minded colleagues, and this can expand your network in the world of work.
But, crucially, hobbies allow you to have interests and a life outside of work. Our worth as people does not come from our ability to work. Our lives should not be focused entirely on our jobs. We have things outside of our incomes that make us tick, that we enjoy and invest time in.
Nourish those hobbies! Make sure you have an activity you can go back home to, so you can destress and recover from your hard days at your job.
If you’re looking after your mental well-being, then you’re much more equipped to deal with the harder days at your job. For employers, that makes you a much more reliable employee – but your first consideration should be how good that makes you feel. Have a hobby for yourself; the employability is just an added bonus.
6. Be personable and polite
This shouldn’t need to be said, but employers are not going to want to take you on if you’re rude to them, to your clients or to your customers. Good manners go very far in the world of work, and similarly, bad manners get you a reputation.
Don’t think you have to be a blank slate, either. You have a personality, so show it! Be eager, and fun, and make friends. You’re going to enjoy your job much more if you’re having a good time, and everyone else is having a good time around you too.
7. Go above and beyond
Going above and beyond may be a little exhausting, but if you put in the effort then you’ll be rewarded. Trust your gut, and push yourself.
Shown to employers through your work experience, and by making decisions on the job, using your initiative allows you to be creative, engaged in your role, and will always put you in good stead. Plus, proving to your employers that they do not have to hold your hand through every hoop will give them a great deal of relief, as they are plenty busy themselves.
8. Ask questions
If pushing forward and working things out on your own just isn’t possible, then don’t fear. After all, you may want to get your head down and get the job done, but you can’t get the job done if you can’t do it properly.
If something goes wrong, then don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re only human – you need to rely on other people’s input sometimes, and working is no different. If that means you can complete the task at hand, or do it much better, then that can’t be a bad thing at all.