University & Degrees

Guest Post: How Your Child can Boost their Employability whilst at University

6 min
February 23, 2021
It is a distressing statistic, but 48% of graduates never land a graduate job and remain underemployed. This essentially means that they do not turn their degree into a graduate career. A degree alone is no longer enough to secure a graduate-level job. However, there are many things your child can do whilst they are at university to improve their employability and subsequently their chances of landing their dream graduate job. 

In this post, we will share tips on how students can boost their employability while at university and how you can encourage them to focus on their employability whilst studying. 

The Six Key Employability Skills

Regardless of what your child is studying, or the type of graduate job they will apply for, all graduate recruiters will be keen to see evidence of how they've managed to improve the following employability skills:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Organising and planning 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Professionalism 
  • The ability to use initiative 

Simply possessing the skills above is not a differentiator as all graduates should be able to demonstrate them. What will help your child to stand out is their ability to clearly articulate how they have acquired and developed these skills and how they have used them to make an impact. 

The STAR method is a great technique for clearly demonstrating how candidates have used their skills to deliver results. 

Key takeaway:
Ask your child to think about the six key skills listed above and to provide examples of how they have demonstrated them using the STAR method. 

Gaining Work Experience 

Work experience is vital and helps your child boost employability skills whle at university. Having a range of work experiences will help your child demonstrate that they have the skills required for the job. The extent to which they are able to demonstrate their skills will help them to stand out from the competition. 

There are many ways your son or daughter can get work experience whilst studying, including: 

  • Part-time jobs - having a part-time job whilst studying demonstrates the ability to organise, plan and manage time effectively.

  • Internships - a number of graduate employers offer paid internships to students during the summer after their second year of university. If your son or daughter gets one of these internships and successfully completes it, they will significantly boost their chances of getting a graduate-level job, either at the company they interned for or another company.

  • Placements - If your son or daughter is in their second year of university, they can usually apply to do a placement year. A placement year is a structured placement within a company that will enable your son or daughter to gain hands-on work experience. As with internships, doing a placement year can result in candidates landing a job at the company where they completed their placement or it will help them to stand out if they decide to apply for a graduate role at another company.

  • Work experience or shadowing - Work experience or shadowing experiences are generally shorter in duration, but give candidates the opportunity to gain insights and develop vital workplace skills.

Key takeaway:
Encourage your child to gain as much work experience as possible whilst they are at university, starting from their first year. 

Encourage your child to be an all-rounder

Whilst your child is at university, they will have the opportunity to get involved in a wealth of activities on campus. For example, they will be able to: 

  • Start or join societies
  • Become a member of sports teams
  • Take language lessons
  • Raise funds for charity

Employers will be interested to see what extracurricular activities your child participates in whilst they are at university. Taking part in these activities will help them to develop and demonstrate their skills. 

Key takeaway:
Encourage your son or daughter to manage their time effectively so that they can focus on their studies and fit in the time to gain work experience and participate in extracurricular activities.

Hire a Graduate Coach

As well as having the skills, qualifications and experiences that make a candidate employable, it is important that your son or daughter is able to sell themselves to employers. Being able to articulate to an employer why you want a job and being able to demonstrate to them that you can do the job really well is a vital skill. 

However, it is not a skill that students are ever taught properly during their academic career. That is why at Graduate Coach, we offer a six-stage coaching programme, as well as interview coaching, online courses and books. 

Key takeaway:
Help is available for students and graduates to assist them in not only getting a graduate-level job but to get the right graduate job that is aligned with their skills, interests and ambitions. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to employability, students and graduates should actively pursue a wide range of activities and interests that will help them to boost their skills especially while they're still at university. 

It is their unique combination of work experiences, and extracurricular activities that will help them to stand out as a degree alone is no longer a differentiator, regardless of the subject they study or whether they achieve a first-class degree or a 2:1. 

On top of meeting academic requirements, having varied work experiences and participating in extracurricular activities, it is important that your child  learns how to articulate the skills they have gained and how they can use them to add value in a graduate position. Help is available to teach students and graduates the art and the science of performing well in interviews and help them to navigate their graduate job search successfully. 

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