While work experience is important, it's not the only way you can improve your employability skills as a graduate. There are a variety of activities that can make you stand out to employers - all it takes is a bit of initiative

While nothing replaces real, on-the-job experience, work experience and internships aren't always easy to find. If you're struggling to secure a placement, don't panic - there are a number of things you can do to boost your chances of employment.

For example, have you considered virtual work experience? An ever increasing number of employers now run virtual programmes that enable students and graduates to gain essential experience from home.

If you need a bit of inspiration, here are seven additional ways to boost your employability.

Pick up a hobby

We've all got interests that we'd like to indulge 'if only we had the time'. Starting a hobby demonstrates initiative and a passion for learning. It'll also help you occupy that tricky 'hobbies and interests' section of a CV or application form.

There are a variety of options for you to consider. For example, you could:

  • learn a coding language
  • start writing a novel
  • learn how to cook/bake
  • get outside and figure out how to plant and grow
  • learn to play an instrument
  • start a book club
  • join a local sports team
  • take up photography, painting, sewing or crafting.

Take an online short course

There's no better way to improve your graduate employability than by embarking on a short course to improve your skills.

Short, online courses are available in a range of subjects, so if you want to learn how to use a certain piece of software, discover what's involved in a particular role or brush up on soft skills, there'll be a course for you.

The course doesn't have to be related to your career. Any course taken demonstrates to employers your initiative, drive and organisational skills.

Course providers include FutureLearn and Coursera and a number of universities run Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are free to join. You can also consider microcredentials.

If you'd like to commit to something longer term, an online Masters degree might suit you.

Learn more about online learning.

Start reading

To be as prepared as possible for the world of work, do some research into the industry and sector you want to join, paying particular attention to companies of interest. To find out what certain roles involve, see job profiles.

Follow preferred employers on social media to keep up to date with latest developments at the company and to learn of vacancies.

It's also a good idea to do some interview preparation. This includes phone and video interviews, so make sure you know what to expect.

Improve your online presence

Take a look at your social channels and ask yourself if they're employer-friendly. Recruiters do look at a candidate's social media channels to gauge whether they'd be a good fit for the job/company.

To tidy up your social channels:

  • Adjust your privacy settings. If you don't want recruiters to be able to see your profiles, make sure they're set to private.
  • If profiles are public, delete any posts that could damage your chances of success - for example, wild holiday pictures or posts containing controversial comments or bad language.
  • Consider whether your profile handle looks/sounds professional. If not, change it.

To improve your presence:

  • Follow organisations and professional bodies of interest to keep up to date with the latest news and developments.
  • Like, comment and interact with employers and peers.
  • When posting, include relevant hashtags to ensure your posts are seen by the right people.
  • Think about setting up separate work accounts.

Also, if you're not on LinkedIn, you should be. Join and start building your profile now.

Discover more about social media and job hunting.

Sign up as a volunteer

Volunteering looks great on your CV and will give you excellent examples to use during job interviews. Activities don't have to be related to your career, you'll be surprised how many transferable skills you gain.

To find out what you can do, search:

Why not consider volunteering abroad on a gap year project, volunteering online or carrying out solo tasks in your area?

Search for volunteering opportunities.

Learn a language

Having a second (or third) language under your belt can help you to stand out in a competitive jobs market. Business in all forms is increasingly international so mastering a well-used language such as Portuguese, Spanish, French or German will often give you an edge.

The hard work and dedication that learning a new language entails is bound to impress employers.

There are plenty of online and auditory resources available to help you to become bilingual, as well as a number of apps.

Craft the perfect CV

Don't neglect your CV. When the time comes to apply for jobs, you'll wish you'd kept it up to date. If yours could do with a bit of TLC, now's the time to do it.

Spend time casting a critical eye over your CV. Does it contain unnecessary or inaccurate information? Is it formatted correctly? Does it include all your skill and experience? Could your personal statement do with a rewrite? Keep an extra eye out for errors or typos.

Discover how to write a CV and take a look at writing a personal statement for your CV as well as our example CVs for inspiration and guidance.

If you take up any of these employability-boosting activities, don't forget to add the skills and experiences to your CV.

Find out more

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