With the sun out and the academic year behind you, summer is prime time to take a break. But it’s also an excellent opportunity to get ahead on your job hunt! We’ve put together some suggestions to help you do just that.
Polish your CV
To apply for just about anything – from a two-week internship to a full-time job – you’ll need a CV. We recommend spending some of the extra time you have in summer refining your CV.
Be sure to keep it under two pages but still specific, format it clearly and make sure it’s up to date – for full guidance, have a look at our CV guide and templates. And once you’re done, get a couple of sharp-eyed friends to proof for typos!
You can then save this ‘master’ CV as a personal template. Every time you apply for something, you’ll need to copy this ‘master’ CV into a new document and tailor it for the particular role – but it gives you an excellent starting point. Your future self will thank you.
Do an internship or work experience
July and August are popular months for internships and work experience stints in all sectors, especially in big cities like London and Manchester. While some positions require you to apply before the end of the academic year, there are opportunities to be applied for during summer, too; a quick Google can reveal a wealth of possibilities.
If you can’t find any advertised opportunities that tickle your fancy and you are in a position to support yourself financially for a couple of weeks, don’t be afraid to approach companies you like directly and ask whether they’ll let you work for them for free for a few weeks. You’ll gain valuable experience even if you’re not formally employed – and you may even land yourself a more permanent role, if you impress the company!
If you’re after something more flexible than an internship, you could consider volunteering. Volunteer experience looks great on your CV, showing that you’re a well-rounded, personable, and altruistic individual! It can also be a good balance if you want a more relaxing summer, because you can often choose your own hours.
Volunteer opportunities range from the traditional to the quirky. You could work for a charity like Oxfam or Diabetes UK, become a volunteer firefighter or simply help out in your local nursing home. If you’re up for something a bit more unusual, you might consider volunteering for something like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or the Leeds Festival – and check out My Cause UK for more festival volunteering opportunities. If your budget permits, you could even go overseas – the International Citizen Service recruits UK citizens for volunteer work in countries from Cambodia to Zambia, for example.
Whatever you choose, you’re sure to add flair to your CV – and get that warm fuzzy feeling from helping others!
Develop a new skill
The summer is also an ideal time to pick up a new skill. After all, even if you’re not working, you can still be learning!
You could do anything – from joining a social football team, to learning Mandarin, to starting your own food blog. There are also plenty of options with a more direct professional output. You could consider taking a MOOC or LinkedIn course, for instance, on anything from coding to business ethics. But any unique skills will make you stand out when you come to apply for jobs – so our advice is not to be afraid to think outside the box and pick something you love!
Because networks are cumulative and need time to grow, developing your network over summer is a clever move, no matter how far through your studies you are.
Start with making or updating your LinkedIn profile. We recommend making your profile as complete as possible, following companies you’re interested in and building up a foundational network of people you know, such as mentors, parents, past colleagues and friends. For further tips, see our page on managing your online presence.
Summer, as a social season, is also ideal for non-virtual networking. Attend as many events, career fairs, and, if you’ve just graduated, alumni meetings as you can – you never know who you might meet. You can often find relevant events advertised by your university careers centre – but there are also plenty of options on platforms such as Eventbrite and LinkedIn Groups. Be brave and attend whatever catches your eye, and if you’re feeling awkward, take a friend.
See what’s out there
You can also use summer to just see what’s out there. When you come to look for permanent employment, the sheer number of possibilities can seem overwhelming. Simply looking through what’s available now, whether or not you’re actively looking for a job, will be helpful in the future – you’ll know better what’s possible, what you’re qualified for and what you’d like to do.
We recommend (of course!) signing up for TalentPool first. When you fill out a profile on our platform, you provide your skills, experience and interests, and we show you roles that you’re a great fit for – so you get a taste of what’s available and feasible! But it’s also wise to do a general sweep of job boards like LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, Monster and the like, just to scope your options.
Finally, remember to use at least a part of your summer holidays to simply… relax. After the stresses of the academic year, it’s just as important to take a break as to get ahead! Put away your notes, have a picnic, travel somewhere new, and catch up with friends and family. You deserve it!
There are so many ways to use your summer productively – just remember to take advantage of the time and have fun.