Five great ways to increase your career prospects

Sarah's top tips:

From shop jobs to volunteering, University of Plymouth Careers Consultant Sarah Plunkett gives you her top tips on how to go about preparing for your future career.

“University provides a great chance to do something new, and get a feel for the reality of a profession. The earlier you start planning the better.”

1. Research your future career options

What would you like to do and where do you see yourself? Perhaps you’d like to be in a fast-paced environment, maybe in the great outdoors, or you might have your eye on leading a big team. Use the national careers website and start exploring the possibilities. The earlier you start planning and seeking out opportunities, the better.

2. Fill in the gaps

Once you have an idea of what you would like to do, consider what might be missing from your current skill set, and look for work experience to fill the gaps for a potential employer.

3. Choose your work experience

Work experience comes in many guises, including summer internships, schemes with companies, volunteering with the Students’ Union, part-time employment, becoming a Student Ambassador or joining a society – this could provide valuable experience in leadership, marketing and more. University provides a great chance to do something new, and get a feel for the reality of a profession.

4. Sell yourself

Update your CV, create a LinkedIn profile and use your summer holidays to develop your experience. If you do well during a summer internship, applications can be fast-tracked by employers, who see work experience as part of the recruitment process. 31% of entry-level positions this year are to be filled by graduates with experience* – so interning can be very worthwhile. Employers look at social media profiles, so make sure you’re creating a professional digital identity too.

5. Network

Nothing beats meeting people face-to-face. Chats with employers can help create priceless contacts so grab every opportunity to meet potential employers at career fairs. Also take part in competitions run by the university. At Plymouth, this includes Hot Seat, where an employer gives feedback after a mock interview.

*Among UK’s 100 best-known and most successful employers; research conducted by High Fliers, Dec 2014.

It worked for me!

Working as a Student Ambassador improved my employment prospects as it equipped me with solid evidence that I possess the experience and skills that employers want when I am filling out applications and going to interviews. My confidence, communication and presentation skills improved through speaking to groups, and one-to-one with prospective students and their parents. I delivered talks at Open Days to groups of over 100 people. My time management and organisation skills improved and I also developed a deeper understanding of the career path that I want to follow.

Sophie (BA Education Studies) graduated in 2014 and went on to do a PGCE.

Student ambassadors at an open day

Student ambassadors at an open day