The ultimate guide to finding a part-time job
Finding a part-time job to supplement your student loan will not only give you more cash to play with, but it's great for your CV too. Here's how it's done!With students experiencing an average £250 shortfall every month, it's clear that maintenance loans just aren't enough to cover living costs in the UK anymore.
Finding a part-time job might sound a bit less interesting than the above, but it's damn sure to be safer, offer a more regular income, and not get you into trouble with the parents.
However, it's worth noting that part-time jobs don't just fall out of the sky and onto your lap (uploading your CV to a job site also doesn't count as applying for jobs, FYI) – you've got to decide first what it is you want to do, and get out there and sell yourself.
What's in this guide?
OK, so you might be thinking “if I didn't need a job, I wouldn't be reading this”. But before reading on, it's definitely worth asking yourself first if a part-time job is right for you at this moment in time.
Firstly, establish exactly why it is that you want a part time job. Are you doing it purely for the dollar, or is it to bulk out your CV or even just to meet new people, perhaps? Or a cocktail of all of the above?
If you're doing it just for the money, make sure you work out what your monthly budget is first. Yes, it's borrrrrring, but sitting down to work out what your incomings and outgoings are will give you a clear idea of exactly how much of a shortfall you need to make up.
You might even find you don't need a job after all, and just a few small money-making tricks here and there will be enough to bring in some pocket money.
It's also worth pointing out that whilst juggling a job at uni will look great on your CV, getting some temporary work experience or getting involved in some extracurricular activities can do the same trick, without you having to commit long term.
It's crucial to sit down and work out how much time you have outside of uni that you can commit to a job in the first place. Can your timetable really accommodate a part-time job? Most universities would advise no more than 15 hours a week during term time, but this will vary for individuals.
If you're worried about the added commitment but are still keen to find a part-time job, here's our guide on how to cope with juggling uni and work simultaneously.
While it's totally understandable that you might need some extra cash, don't put getting a job ahead of your studies. It can be easy to fall into the trap of working all the hours you can, often to the detriment of your degree, 'cause you get so used to raking in the green.
Before committing yourself to a position, have a talk with your potential employer about how many hours you can do per week, and what your availability realistically looks like.
Flexibility can be pretty crucial when it comes to working and studying simultaneously, so it's important to know your boss has your back when exam period comes around.
You need to know that the company you'll be working for understands just how important your studies are.
We're not trying to put you off with our choice of meme, we just can't ever resist a grumpy cat opportunity.
Working in retail could include anything from your local supermarket to working in a clothes store, but generally it includes working the check-out tills, offering customer service and stocking shelves.
Retail is probably the easiest job to go for if you don't have any prior experience – they key is to walk up to whoever is in charge with a big smile and a friendly face, CV in hand. Customer service is what's most important in retail, so first impressions mean everything in this game!
A job in retail is easiest to nail around Christmas time, as this is when stores are most desperate for staff. If you're not too busy slogging it over exams, get handing out CVs mid-November and your chances of landing something are much higher.
Pros: Temp work available over Christmas, staff discount, easy work and no experience required.
Cons: Hours can be inconsistent, you'll be expected to work most weekends, lots of competition as these jobs tend to be popular.
This includes everything from working in Mcd's to waitressing in a high-end restaurant.
Duties typically involve taking orders, waiting tables, and if you're working in the fast food industry – you might be cooking food and washing dishes, too.
Oh yeah, and did we mention there's likely to be some free food involved in these kinds of jobs? You can see why jobs in this field have always been popular with students.
Pros: Free food, tips on top of your wages and often no prior experience needed.
Cons: Can be tiring, late/ long hours and it can leave you feeling a bit greasy and smelly.
As well as just bar staff, many watering holes recruit glass collectors, cloakroom attendants, cleaners, promo teams and bouncers.
With almost every university town having enough bars to keep you in drinks for the entirety of your degree, there's a lot of potential work waiting to be found.
Pros: Uni bars are usually happy to be flexible during holidays and exams; evening shifts won't clash with timetable.
Cons: Late hours and the high probability of dealing with drunken customers.
Most part-time student jobs will fall into one of the above three categories, but it's worth being aware that there are loads of alternatives out there that you probably haven't even considered yet – and we've got a whole list of them here for you to think about.
As with most money-making opportunities, sometimes the hardest part of finding a good part-time jobs is knowing where to look. Save some valuable time by using this handy list as your first port of call…
- Try our part-time job search tool: We may be biased, but we reckon our tool is the best one out there for students looking for part-time work at uni. It's constantly updated, so keep an eye out for new postings!
- Search online: This is a given, of course, but knowing exactly where to look online is the cruncher! Nowadays, sometimes the best place to look can be directly on company websites or on their social media pages, where they'll post if they have vacancies. You can also sign up to job sites so they notify you when part-time positions pop up in your area.
- Social media: We just touched on this one, but it definitely deserves a space of its own – social media is perfect for job hunting. Check out our extensive guides on how to use Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media channels to get a job.
- University schemes: A lot of universities will organise job fairs throughout the year, giving you a chance to meet employers directly, so make sure to get out of bed on that day. Many unis also have a JobShop service too, and will hire people directly to work in their shops, bars and on open days.
- Recruitment agencies: It's essentially a matchmaking service, but instead of finding love you find a job. They usually have a database of positions waiting to be filled so it makes sense to get in on the fun. Check out our full guide on how to get the most out of recruitment agencies before you do any signing up!
- Ask around: If you're lucky enough to have friends or family working at a company you like, they might be able to give you a heads up when a new opening is coming – and hopefully put in a good word!
- Walk in and ask!: Weirdly enough, when it comes to finding part-time jobs, just walking into a place with your CV and asking if there are any jobs going tends to be most effective. It might make you squirm at first, but once you've got past the first couple, it'll be a doddle!
When it comes to getting the best part-time student jobs, you'll be facing stiff competition, but we've got your back!
Follow these tips and you'll be in with a serious chance of nailing that dream pocket money generator.
- Start hunting at off-peak times: Hit the ground running by looking up what's online and applying for a few jobs before you start uni. Everyone will be looking for work during freshers' week, but if you're already at interview stage you're flying.
- Make sure your CV is top notch: Regardless of the type of job you're applying for, you'll need a bangin' CV that really sells you, so your first stop is our guide to writing the perfect one. Even if you think you've already nailed your CV, it's worth reading through this guide to make sure its AA+. It's worth having a few different tailored CVs if you're job-hunting in drastically different sectors, too.
- Triple check your details: Students are renowned for changing their contact details on the reg, so make sure you always check the info you're giving out is up to date. No one wants to miss out on a great opportunity just because you changed your mobile number for the third time in a year.
- Pimp up your CV: We know it seems like a vicious cycle, but having a bit of experience on your CV makes it much easier to land a jobs. Considering volunteering, helping out a family friend with their business or even setting up your own website so you can make your CV really stand out.
- Be enthusiastic: Make sure they know you mean business by chasing up your application and reiterating how much you want to work for them. We're not suggesting you hassle them of course! But just demonstrating that you're willing to put in a bit of effort will go a long way.
- Check your social media settings: As much as you know there's a distinction between your work and personal life, employers are still unlikely to hire you if all they can see are pics of drunken nights out and foul-mouthed rants on your Facebook. We've got more to say on the topic right here.
Remember you can start your job hunt right here on Save the Student, with our nifty part-time job search tool. Good luck!