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Part-time jobs that will kick-start your graduate career

Need a part-time job? Here’s how to choose one that will help you land the career you want.

Your part-time job will equip you with a range of skills that will make you more employable, and a little forward planning will enable you to squeeze the maximum long-term career benefits out of your work. If you do have a part-time job, read on for tips on how to make the most of it. If you don’t, consider getting one; employers welcome this kind of real-world work experience and may overlook candidates who don’t have it. You might even be able to find part-time work that will be directly relevant to your future career aspirations.

Skills employers love that you’ll gain from any part-time job

Any part-time job will help you develop a range of skills, and these skills will make you more attractive to employers and open up new career paths to you. Your part-time job will also help you work out where your strengths lie and what you enjoy doing.

Practical experience of paid work, whether it’s a bar job or retail work, shows you have self-management skills such as punctuality and reliability, and can juggle your commitments so as to fit everything in. It also suggests that you have initiative and a strong work ethic. Your part-time job may not be intellectually challenging, but in an employer’s eyes, that may even be an advantage. If you can maintain focus and accuracy while performing a repetitive task, that reflects well on your self-discipline and resilience. Employers want people who aren’t going to be put off if faced with difficult or boring work and who will see things through regardless of any setbacks. As such, having had a part-time job, and stuck to it, suggests that you are a rounded, grounded and motivated candidate.

Most part-time jobs involve dealing with colleagues and the public and will help you develop key skills that recruiters love, such as teamworking, communication and coping under pressure. You may also be able to gain useful experience of office systems and software.

Got a part-time job already? Make the most of it

Employers like to see evidence that you’re willing to go the extra mile, so how can you make the most of your part-time job? Look out for ways to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve efficiency, and suggest these to your manager; you may spot a simple change that could make a big difference, such as a marketing or promotional opportunity. Be prepared to put yourself forward for any challenges, such as organising or keeping a record of team meetings, or aiming for a higher level of responsibility.

Choose a part-time job that will help you in your career

If you are in a position to pick and choose between part-time jobs and have some ideas about career options you would like to explore, you can take a strategic approach and look for a position that will give you the best possible chance of getting a foot on the ladder in your chosen profession.

For example, if you are interested in a career in retail, it makes sense to get a shop job, while if you are considering working in hospitality, a job in a bar or restaurant would be a natural fit. Many companies that recruit students for part-time jobs may also offer internships, which are typically very well paid. You could end up applying for a formal work experience placement, or even a graduate job, with an employer you already work for.

Skills you can gain from your part-time job

Key skill Part-time job
customer awareness retail
adaptability, flexibility warehouse shift work
verbal communication receptionist
working under pressure server in fast-food restaurant
numeracy spreadsheet data entry clerk
persuasion telesales
negotiation bar work
leadership tour guide
integrity security guard
juggling competing priorities waiter/waitress
analysis market research
written communication secretary/personal assistant
teamwork sports coach
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