How to Get a Part Time Job at University | Top Universities

How to Get a Part Time Job at University

By samantha woodcock

Updated August 14, 2022 Updated August 14, 2022

Part time jobs are a great way for students to make extra money, gain experience in a number of fields and build on team work, customer service and all-round people skills. But there’s a fair amount of competition in the part time jobs market now, with lots of people competing for every position advertised. Here’s a few tips that will help you succeed in the initial application and the interview, to secure that little earner on the side that stops you digging into your student overdraft.

1. Make your CV stand out 

Employers can sift through hundreds of CVs for part time jobs, and a great deal of applications come from college, school and university students; the only way you’re going to get noticed is if your CV stands out from the rest. Consider layout, font choice and use of blank space on the page in order to optimize the viewing experience for the staff going through CVs. There are lots of CV templates online available for free that you can get inspiration from to create something that is unique to yourself. It is worth noting that in some (but not all) countries, it’s usual to include a photo as part of your CV. Check the local norms to make sure yours follows the expectation.

A fair amount of part time jobs are in the catering, retail and tourism areas and naturally that means that you’ll be working with the general public. Highlight your customer service skills in either your key skills area or your personal statement; this is a vital component required in securing an interview with many companies. 

A CV should be no more than two pages long, especially when applying for part time jobs. You don’t need to state every GCSE/ equivalent in detail, especially if you’re a university student. Simply stating “12 A*-C grades at GCSE including maths and English” is more than enough for most part time job roles.

2. Put some research into your cover letter 

Always include a cover letter. It’s a great way to go into more detail about any previous experience that you have, highlighting skills that will be relevant in the job you are hoping to secure. If you can address the letter to the HR manager/ manager of the company you are applying for do so, it shows that either you’ve read the advert fully or you’ve looked into the company and found out for yourself. With many companies it’s easy to search LinkedIn to find the manager you are looking for. If you can’t, it’s perfectly acceptable to call the company advertising the job and ask who you should address the cover letter to. This kind of initiative is well appreciated by employers and will help you stand out against other applicants.

3. Find out about the company you are interviewing for 

A quick online search will usually be able to tell you how long the store/ restaurant/ company has been operating, who it’s owned by, what its annual turnover is, if it has a company motto/values. You’ll be able to find it all in a couple of searches. One of the first questions you’ll be asked is likely to be along the lines of “tell me what attracted you to the role” or “why do you want to work for this company?” You’ll need to draw on the research you have in order to confidently answer these questions.

4. Be honest in the job interview 

Everyone knows that you have to be honest on your CV, but as a student it’s also worth being honest about your availability in the initial interview. Provide the interviewer with a schedule of your week, highlighting time periods that you can work and any time that you will need off in order to complete research projects or placements that are compulsory for your degree. It is also worth giving your prospective employer a schedule of your holidays and when your exams are. Many tourist attractions are notoriously busy during periods such as Easter/ Spring Break and in the build-up to summer, just when many exams are at universities, while the retail is a lot busier around Christmas and early January. 

If you live away from home and intend to go back once a month, it’s time to mention that too. Otherwise if you secure the job, your employer may not be able to let you have one weekend a month off.

5. Ask questions

Never go to a job interview without a few extra questions in mind. These could be about pay, whether it be the hourly rate or when and how you are paid, such as monthly or weekly. You can ask questions about the team you’ll be working with, how many staff members there are, what a standard working day is like, and what the uniform or dress code is. Do you get an allowance for the uniform, or is it provided? It’s worth knowing before you leave the interview.

6. Showcase that you can work well in a team 

Many employers hold group interviews, especially for temporary work around busy periods of the year. This is a good way to see lots of people in one session, but it can be hard for the applicants to stand out. However, think of this as an opportunity to showcase your great teamwork skills, patience, cooperation, delegation and so much more, backing up everything you’ve claimed in your CV. Show the employer exactly why you’re the one for them. Also make sure you encourage others in your work group; this will show you’re someone who wants others to succeed alongside them, and that is a wonderful skill to have when working to meet team targets and hitting bonuses within the company.

So there you have it! What are you waiting for?… Go secure that part time job!

This article was originally published in November 2015 . It was last updated in August 2022

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