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...
With students experiencing an average shortfall of £340 every month, it's clear that Maintenance Loans just aren't enough to cover living costs in the UK.
As many as 66% of students have part-time jobs at uni. By getting a job, you could start earning a regular, reliable income. This will make a huge difference if you – like so many others – find that your Student Loan isn't big enough.
However, it's worth noting that part-time jobs don't just fall out of the sky and onto your lap. First, you've got to decide what it is you want to do and then put in the effort to secure a job.
What's in this guide?
How to get a part-time job
Here are the most effective ways to get a part-time job:
Look for part-time jobs far in advance
When looking for a job, it's best to start your search as early as possible. You might not get a job straight away, so don't wait until you actually need to start working to begin sending your applications.
Hit the ground running by scouting out part-time positions online and applying for a few jobs before you start university 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 in for a great chance.
Write a brilliant CV
Regardless of the type of job you're applying for, you'll need a great résumé that really makes you stand out among other applicants.
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 our tips to make sure it's A+ quality.
Keep a copy of your standard CV, then tailor it for each application. For example, if a job advert specifically asks for communication and organisational skills, make sure your CV clearly shows that you have these qualities (backed up with any relevant experience).
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 to potential employers is up to date.
Also, be careful to avoid typos – this should be the case throughout your application, but especially in the section with your contact details.
You should pay particular attention to the email address and phone number you include on your application – these will be the details recruiters will use to contact you about interviews.
We also advise against listing a Hotmail email address – they're probably the least professional-looking of the bunch. You could maybe get an Outlook or Gmail address instead.
Take part in extracurricular activities
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. But, if you haven't had a job before, don't worry – there are plenty of other things you can do to improve your job applications.
Not sure which ones to try? We have a guide with the best extracurricular activities for you, depending on your chosen industry.
Be enthusiastic as a job applicant
Make sure employers know you are keen for the job by following up on your application and asking for updates.
You should never hassle recruiters, but putting in a bit of effort to stay in touch throughout the process will go a long way.
And, if you have a job interview, it's always worth sending a quick email afterwards to thank the interviewer for their time. This not only shows you're genuinely interested in the job but also that you're polite, warm and appreciative of the opportunity.
Put your social media settings on private
While there is, of course, a distinction between your work and personal life, employers are still unlikely to hire you if all they can see on your social media are photos of drunken nights out and foul-mouthed rants on your Facebook.
Instead, make sure you're doing everything you can to use social media in the right way, to help you land a job.
Where to look for part-time jobs
Here are the best places to find a part-time job for students:
Part-time job search tools
Knowing exactly where to look online is essential to getting a good part-time job. The best place to look can often be directly on company websites where they'll advertise their job vacancies.
We may be biased, but we reckon our part-time job search engine is the best one out there for students looking for work at university. It's constantly updated, so keep an eye out for new postings.
We touched on this earlier, but social media is perfect for job hunting.
As well as looking directly on companies' websites to find vacancies, have a look at their social media pages as well.
They will likely share their job opportunities on sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – if this is the case, you can like or respond to the post (as long as you've already made sure your social media looks professional).
It's also worth checking any Facebook groups for students in your university city. Local bars, coffee shops and retail stores often post job openings in groups like this to attract students. Alternatively, you can see if there are any hospitality Facebook groups in your city (if you want to work in hospitality, that is).
University jobs fairs
Many universities will organise job fairs throughout the year, giving you the chance to meet employers directly. These are amazing opportunities, so check when your uni will be hosting a career fair and be sure to pop along.
To get the most out of a uni job fair, find out which companies will be attending. Research them beforehand and arrive armed with notes and questions.
After talking to recruiters at fairs, ask for their card and follow up with an email afterwards. In the email, it's a good idea to remind them who you are, thank them for chatting with you and ask them to stay in touch about part-time jobs, when they become available.
Plus, as well as going to job fairs, find out if your university has a JobShop service. Through this, you might be able to find a part-time job in their shops, bars and on open days.
Recruitment agencies are a lot like matchmaking services, but instead of helping you find love, they find you a job.
They usually have a database of positions waiting to be filled so it makes sense to get involved. Before signing up, check out our full guide to getting the most out of recruitment agencies.
If you're lucky enough to have friends or family working at a company you're interested in, they might be able to give you a heads up when a new job opens up – and hopefully put in a good word for you.
If all else fails, just ask the old fashioned way. When it comes to finding part-time jobs, walking into a place with your CV and asking if there are any jobs going can often be very effective. And don't be afraid to ask for a job in a store, cafe or pub without a "help wanted" sign on their window – you'll never know what's available until you ask!
It might seem a bit daunting at first, but once you've got past the first couple, it will get so much easier.
Should you get a job at university?
Before committing to anything, it's definitely worth asking yourself first if a part-time job is right for you at this moment in time.
Firstly, work out exactly why you want a part-time job. Are you doing it purely for the money, to bulk out your CV, or even just to meet new people?
If you're doing it just for the money, make sure you work out what your monthly budget is first. Granted, it's not the most fun of tasks, 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 for.
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 noting that, although juggling a job at uni will look great on your CV, you can also improve your résumé by doing work experience or by getting involved in some extracurricular activities. These come with the added bonus of being short-term commitments that shouldn't impact your studies too much.
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? A lot of universities would advise working in a part-time job for no more than 15 hours a week during term time, but this will vary for individuals.
Recommended part-time jobs for students
When finding a part-time job, it's worth focusing on these industries:
Pros: Temp work available over Christmas, staff discount, easy work, no experience required.
Cons: Hours can be inconsistent, weekend work often required, lots of competition for jobs.
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 one of the easiest industries to find work in if you haven't yet got any prior work experience.
To find a part-time job in local independent stores, it's worth walking up to whoever is in charge in the shop with a big smile and a friendly face, and a CV in hand.
For the major chain stores, though, we'd suggest looking on the careers section of their websites to see if they have any part-time jobs available in your area. Then, once you've found some jobs that appeal, you should then be able to fill in applications for the roles online.
A part-time job in retail is easiest to get around Christmas time, as this is when stores are most in need of staff. If you're not too busy revising for exams, start applying for jobs in October or November to increase your chances of landing a job.
Pros: Free food, possible 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.
And, did we mention there's likely to be some free food involved in these kinds of jobs? You can see why part-time jobs in this field have always been popular with students.
Pros: Uni bars can be flexible during holidays and exam seasons, evening shifts won't clash with your timetable.
Cons: Late hours, high probability of dealing with drunk customers.
As well as working as bar staff, you may also be able to find paid part-time work collecting glasses, monitoring a club's cloakroom, cleaning, promoting events and more.
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.
A lot of part-time student jobs will fall into one of the above three categories, but bear in mind 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.
Wondering what part-time jobs make the most money? We've listed them in our best-paid part-time jobs for students guide...