Blog post

Top tips on how to get a job

It’s that time of year when you look at your bank balance and realise you can’t afford to get a decent meal from McDonald's. This is it - you’ve officially hit the infamous financial rock bottom that most uni students will go through at least once in their university life. Fear not, troubled student, there is a solution to your financial woes. Start looking for a job! You’re probably thinking how and where do I start?

Here are my top tips on how to start the search and (hopefully) get a job.

By Sam Chikowore - 14 May 2019

1. Draft up a CV

Drafting a CV is definitely not as complicated as it sounds. It is merely just summarising your academic history and achievements, your extracurricular activities and hobbies, and just a brief summary of who you are as a person. Apply a bit of introspection to find out for yourself what makes you unique and shout about it. The University of Derby offers some excellent support, including the CV Clinic to help you create a great CV.

2. Open up a bank account

Aimed more at international students, but opening a local bank account has helped me to manage my finances considerably. Firstly, if you are going to be applying for jobs, you will then be paid for the work you undertake. Usually employers would want to pay your wages into a local bank account rather than a foreign one. I also found that day-to-day transactions are cheaper through a UK bank account as you have fewer bank charges to deal with. You also tend to have a much wider range of autonomy over a local bank account as compared to a foreign one as, if there were to be a problem, you can visit your local bank branch. However, if you are operating a foreign account, you might have to deal with bureaucracy and may be financially stranded for a few days.

3. Register with the University’s Student Employment Agency

If you’re going to be looking for a job around the uni, you’re going to need to sign up with the Student Employment Agency. This service is the University of Derby’s recruitment agency. It provides students the chance to find paid employment and may be of help when seeking employment outside of uni too. The Student Employment Agency gives you access to jobs that are tailored to personal preferences you state through the application process. The team also look after your payments, and make sure you are paid on time for any work you have completed.

4. Start actually looking for employment

When you’re all set up with the Student Employment Agency, start browsing through the available vacancies and see what tickles your fancy. It is imperative when looking for a job that you try to find one that complements your uni timetable and schedule. Remember, you’re at uni to get a degree, not a part-time job for a few extra pounds. Usually, finding a job that is at the uni works out better, as they are more than accommodating of students’ schedules and are much more flexible. However, if you can find a job outside of uni that works better for you and your schedule, go for it!

5. Apply for a National Insurance Number – especially if you are an international student

As a student looking for work it is essential that you have a National Insurance Number. A National Insurance Number is a ‘personal account number’ that is used in the UK as part of the social security system, and ensures that you pay the correct amount of tax whilst also serving as confirmation of your right to work. The application process is relatively simple – you contact the Department of Works and Pensions and set up an appointment, which in my experience took place in Nottingham. The appointment takes place as an interview to explore the reasons why you are applying for a National Insurance Number, in our case because we want to find employment. It is also a means of verifying your right to work as a student, especially if you’re an international student on the tier 4/Student Route visa. It is a relatively simple process and, if your documents are in order, the process can be completed quickly.

6. Understand the rules on working hours

As a student, especially an international student, it is important that you adhere to your visa regulations on your work limit. For international students on a tier 4 general visa, the work limit is 20 hours per week. If you exceed this time limit, you risk your employer being subject to a hefty fine and you may be banned from working by the Department of Works and Pensions – those who issue your National Insurance number – and your visa may be cancelled. You would have to leave the UK and may face difficulties in applying for another visa to return. Keep a log by week and work closely with the Student Employment Agency to make sure all your hours are logged correctly.

7. You’ve secured an interview – congratulations!

You’ve applied for a job and you’ve been called to an interview! Remember:

Be on time

Try to get to the interview about 10 minutes before it is scheduled to start. This shows your prospective employer that you value time and are punctual, which is a great start to any interview. It will also help you get settled before the interview begins and you can collect your thoughts.

Dress smartly

In my humble opinion, it is always a much safer option to be overdressed than underdressed. If you’ve put time into looking good for your interview, you are much more likely to feel good and confident about yourself. If you feel good, you’ll do good.

Be confident - and relax!

It’s not an interrogation, your potential employer just wants to get to know you better. Just speak as you normally would to any other person about yourself. Make sure to let your strengths and positive qualities shine, however, do not be afraid to show some drawbacks about yourself that you could work on to become a better employee and better person overall.

All the best and happy job hunting!

About the author

Sam standing next to a mountain wearing a red anorak.

Sam Chikowore
Business Management and Geology student at the University of Derby

Business Management and Geology student at the University of Derby. I also work part-time as a Marketing Representative for the University.