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How to Land Entry Level Jobs before you Graduate

By Guest Writer

Updated February 2, 2015 Updated February 2, 2015

Guest post: Frances Pocock

With the entry level jobs becoming much more competitive, a degree alone is not enough to guarantee you’ll skip out of university and straight into employment.

What can you do while still at university to make yourself more desirable for entry level jobs when you leave? Here are five things you should be doing during your student years to ensure you get the career you want.

See also: Five of the world's top universities as rated by employers >

1. Get a 2:1*

This is pretty important. According to the most recent survey by the UK’s Associate of Graduate Recruiters, 81.3% of graduate employers use 2:1 as their cut off point for the majority of their roles. 15% use 2:2 and 3.8% say that it depends on the role. Judging by these statistics, getting a 2:1 or above should be very high up your list of priorities. Obviously it’s not the end of the world if you end up getting a third but a 2:1 or above gives you a much better chance of being hired for entry level jobs. 

* This refers to the grading system used in the UK and a number of other countries. The highest degree class is a first, followed by 2:1, 2:2 and third. More about studying in the UK >

2. Go to career fairs

Your university should offer various career fairs throughout the year. These are attended by a lot of graduate employers and recruitment agencies so they can be incredibly useful. They’re a good way to get a better idea of what you want to do when you leave university. You can meet new people at career fairs who already working in the types of jobs you’re interested in and start making some contacts in the industry.

3. Get a part-time job

Work experience is extremely valuable. Coming out of university with a good degree and work experience to back it up puts you ahead of those who haven’t taken the time to gain first-hand experience. Learning how to develop good working relationships with people or managing your time and productivity well are things you’ll pick up at work. Not only will these things add to your employability for entry level jobs, but they will also be valuable to you personally. If you’ve had some experience of it before you leave university, then entering the world of work will be a smoother transition.

How to get the most out of internships >

4. Build good relationships with your tutors

These are the people who are most likely going to be giving you references in the future. Make sure they know who you are (always a good start!) and show them you’re a hard worker. There is also no harm in asking them for help regarding essays or assignments. It’ll probably mean you get better grades (see point 1) and they’ll notice the fact you’re serious about your work. Tutors are there to help you and as they’ve made a career about what you’re studying they will probably be perfectly happy to talk more about it.

Five people every student should get to know >

5. Get some inspiration

It’s fine to not know what you want to do – and you’re certainly not the only one in that boat. Doing research on careers that are out there is very useful. Find out about what kind of jobs your degree can be useful for and the companies that offer these types of jobs. The internet is your oyster, read up on what the best ways to get onto the career ladder of your chosen industry by having a look at how other people have done it before you.

And finally...

University is probably going to be one of the best times of your life. By all means make the pub your second home, but keep in mind why you went to university in the first place (don’t say “cheap drinks")! Hopefully these five steps will help you get the most out of your time there and on your way to your dream career.

Frances is studying English language at the University of Sussex, and working part-time as an online researcher at The Graduate Recruitment Bureau.

This article was originally published in March 2013 . It was last updated in February 2015

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