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Jobs & Careers

How to find 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!

part time job starbucks h&m

Credit: (left) Sorbis, (right) JHVEP Studio– Shutterstock

With students experiencing an average shortfall of £223 every month, it's clear that Maintenance Loans just aren't enough to cover living costs in the UK. And when it comes to supplementing the loan, we've heard of everything: from students gambling to selling used underwear online for quick cash.

Finding a part-time job might sound a little less interesting than these measures, 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) – first you've got to decide what it is you want to do, and get out there and sell yourself.

Did you know that you can now get part-time Student Loans to help fund your living costs as a part-time student?

Getting a part-time job

When it comes to getting the best part-time student jobs, you'll be facing stiff competition. Follow these tips and you'll be in with a serious chance of getting the perfect job for you:

  1. Look for a part-time job before uni starts

    Hit the ground running by scouting out part-time positions online and applying for a few jobs before you start uni to avoid peak job-hunting season. Everyone will be looking for work during freshers' week, but if you're already at the interview stage, you're flying!

  2. Make sure your CV is top-notch

    cv with thumbs up

    Regardless of the type of job you're applying for, you'll need a bangin' résumé that really sells you – so your first stop should be our guide to writing the perfect CV. Even if you think you've already nailed your CV, it's worth reading through this guide to make sure it's A+ quality.

    It's worth having a few different tailored CVs if you're job-hunting in drastically different sectors, too. Employers can spot a generic copy and paste job from a mile away!

  3. Triple check your details

    Students are renowned for changing their contact details on the reg, so make sure you always check that 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.

    And don't leave your parents' address on there (unless you currently live with your parents). We also advise against listing a Hotmail email address – they're probably the least professional-looking of the bunch!

  4. Take part in some extracurricular activities

    volunteering elderly

    We know it seems like a vicious cycle, but having a bit of experience on your CV makes it much easier to land a job. Consider 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Put your social media settings on private

    smartphone screen with social media

    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.

Where to look for part-time jobs

graduate jobs that accept a 2:2

Credit: Dimension Films

As with most money-making opportunities, sometimes the hardest part of finding a good part-time job is knowing where to look. Save some valuable time by using this handy list as your first port of call:

Part-time job search tools

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!

This is a given, of course, but knowing exactly where to look online is the cruncher. Nowadays, the best place to look can often be directly on company websites or on their social media pages, where they'll post if they have vacancies.

Also, sign up to job sites like CV-Library which notify you when part-time positions pop up in your area.

Social media

facebook twitter betty white

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

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 jobs fairs

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

People networking at event

Credit: DGLimages – Shutterstock

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!

Use your network

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!

If all else fails, just ask the old fashioned way. 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 pretty effective. It might be a bit daunting at first but once you've got past the first couple, it'll be a doddle!

For even more insider tips, check out our guide on 10 smarter ways to find a job.

Should you get a job at university?

rachel friends get a job

Credit: Warner Bros.

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,  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 big 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 give you some pocket money.

It's also worth pointing out that although juggling a job at uni will look great on your CV, you can also improve your résumé with work experience or getting involved in some extracurricular activities, with the added bonus of not having to commit long term.

It's crucial to sit down and work out how much time 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 juggle uni and work simultaneously.

Balancing a part-time job with university

woman doing yoga

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, just because 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 would realistically be.

Flexibility can be pretty crucial when it comes to working and studying simultaneously, so it's important to know that your boss has your back when exam season comes around.

You need to know that the company you'll be working for understands just how important your studies are.

For more on this, check out our guide to mastering the art of balancing a part-time job when you're at uni.

Top 3 part-time jobs for students

Now we've shown you how to get a part-time job, here are the industries you should be focusing on...

  1. Retail

    h&m

    Credit: JHVEP Studio– Shutterstock

    Pros: Temp work available over Christmas, staff discount, easy work, 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.

    Working in retail could include anything from your local supermarket to working in a clothes store, but wherever it is, expect to be working on the 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!

    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 in October or November and your chances of landing something will be much higher.

  2. Service industry

    starbucks barista

    Credit: Sorbis – Shutterstock

    Pros: Free food, tips on top of your wages, often no prior experience needed.

    Cons: Can be tiring, late/long hours, can leave you feeling a bit greasy and smelly.

    This includes everything from working in Maccy D's, to being a barista, to waitressing in a high-end restaurant.

    Duties typically involve taking orders and 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.

  3. Bar work

    man pouring pint

    Pros: Uni bars are usually happy to be flexible during holidays and exams, evening shifts won't clash with your timetable.

    Cons: Late hours, high probability of dealing with drunken customers.

    As well as 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 drinking for the entirety of your degree, there's a lot of potential work waiting to be found.

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.

These are the most popular areas of employment for students, but which are the best paid? Find out which part-time student jobs have the highest average salary.

Tip: employers place a lot of importance on soft skills, so make sure to include them on your CV.

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