Part-time job-hunting tips

AFS Team·28 March 2022·11 min read
Part-time job-hunting tips

Getting a part-time job at university is something every student should consider. I took until my second year to get my first part-time job at university, and it was one of the best decisions I made, and I regret not getting one earlier! My job was at the student pub over the summer between second and third year, and for the first few weeks of third year. I even ended up working on the bar over fresher’s week, which was definitely an experience! I ended up leaving that job and I now work Stints (look them up, they’re great), I am a shot girl at the weekends and obviously I make content over here for Accommodation for Students!

So, why is it worth getting a part-time job alongside university?

1. Income! A bit of extra cash an justify that extra cocktail, uber ride, or you can put it into savings.

2. It’s a great way to make friends outside your immediate university social circles. I now have loads of friends at university who I would not have met otherwise

3. It gives you the opportunity to integrate with the local community. It really helps you feel at home in a city when you know that you’ve also got friends outside of university.

4. Working a long shift is great way to get away from university stress. When you’re working you literally cannot think about anything but the job for however long that shift lasts, so it can really help you break up your university work.

5. It provides structure. Before working, I sometimes found that I would have hours each day that I was free to fill in whatever way I wanted. This meant I often procrastinated my university work until the late evening. Having a 6pm shift would force me to get my university work done in the morning so that I could ensure I was at work on time.

6. Life skills. You will develop so many skills at any job, including customer service, organisation, work experience, communication teamwork. This is all great for your CV when you start looking for jobs after university!

7. Depending on the job, there may be opportunities for progression. This is fab if it takes you a bit longer than you’d like after graduating to find an ideal graduate job. Or it could even be an alternative route that you didn’t think of going down.

Now that you’re (hopefully) convinced to get a part-time job, here’s how I’d approach it.

Firstly, you want to work out what sort of job would suit you. This is important because it will allow you to hone in your search and prioritise which applications are more important to you.

1. What sector of work would you like to try? For example: bar work, waitressing, general hospitality, retail. Do some research and work out what will suit you best! Think about what skills you already have and which you’d like to develop.

It’s helpful to stick to a certain sector of work when applying for many jobs because you wont have to change much wording between applications.

2. What hours would you prefer working? All hours have pros and cons, so you need to think about what’s more important for you.

Bar work will involve more evening or night shifts which are good because you get the whole day free and can go out the night before a shift. But not great for those who tire easily, want to be able to get up early or don’t want to miss nights out whilst working.
Day shifts such as café work give you the evenings so you can sleep earlier if you’d like and you also won’t miss any nights out! But alongside university this may take more organisation in terms of attending your lectures and they’ll involve more early mornings.

3. Think of criteria by which to assess different jobs by & which are more important to you.

Some of these could include staff discount, free staff uniform, flexibility of staff, hours, wage
With wage, if the pay isn’t readily available in the job ad, assume it’s minimum wage. For 18-20 y/os this is £6.83 & for 21-22 this is £9.18 as of April 2022. My bar job was paying me £6.60 an hour and this wasn’t advertised to me when I applied, so it was a rude awakening!

Where to find jobs:

1. Look on students’ union website at jobs in campus bars/coffee shops! These are great because they will be flexible because they understand that their staff are students. They will also tend to pay more and be closer to where you’re living.

4. Google! For example, by searching ‘bar jobs York’, a whole list will come up which you can filter down where needed. Make sure to apply via the official website of these employers. Prepare not to hear back from many of these.

5. The company’s official website. If there’s a specific place you’d like to work, search their website for their current jobs. For example, if you Google “Sainsbury’s careers", you’ll be taken to the careers section of their webpage, from which you can filter to your area and for part-time only. They often will save your application, so if you’re unsuccessful, it’ll be easier to reapply for other jobs later down the line.

6. Linkedin. It may be more catered to full time & corporate jobs but don’t underestimate it! Part-time jobs will be listed, and you may find slightly more interesting jobs, especially in bigger cities. There will also be more remote jobs listed here, if that’s something that’s appealing,

7. The old-fashioned way. Print out your CV and it into shops/restaurants/bars, especially independent ones. Alternatively you can email your CV to places you’re interested in working in. Many places may be looking but not advertising somewhere that you’ll have seen. Make sure to ask if they can give you a trial shift, this gives you a great opportunity to see if you’d enjoy that type of job and more things to speak about in a job interview!
Prepare to often be ignored in many cases. But may get lucky and land a great job where you can sometime even skip a more formal interview.

8. Join a job-hunting Facebook page for your local area! Loads of jobs are posted daily and the application process tends to be much more relaxed. You can even take a more proactive approach and make a post yourself, stating that you’re looking for work, listing your age, experience and anything else you think is relevant. This way local companies may reach out to you themselves.

9. Look on shopping centres’ websites rather than the company’s website. This will list vacancies for all their stores so you can quickly see everything that’s available.

Application tips:

1. Beating the competition! If you’re going into first year and you want a job from the off, make sure to apply before arriving. Most will apply after they arrive so by applying early, you’ll beat the competition. Furthermore, at this time there will be more vacancies because the students from previous cohort will have left and the locals will have left for university themselves.

2. Ensure to tailor your CV to specific sectors. Don’t list more than 6 previous jobs/experiences in high levels of detail if they’re not all relevant.

3. Keep your CV simple, not too wordy, and easy to skim. Do this by putting most relevant experience first. This will make it easy for employers to make a quick decision about whether to interview you.

4. If you’ve not had a job before, don’t panic!! There’s still so much you can talk about, have you volunteered, been part of a sports team or had leadership responsibilities before? Everyone has something worth talking about, it all depends HOW you talk about it.

5. Think of answers for interview questions! If you’re applying for a job at a well-known company, sometimes you can Google questions that previous applicants have faced and come up with answers in advance. It is also worth practicing answering them. Ensure you can think of examples of skills you have that employer are likely to ask about and have preprepared convincing answers for the usual questions. These include: “tell me about yourself", “why do you want to work here?", “tell me about a time you displayed excellent customer service skills", “tell me about a time you encountered a problem and how you went about solving it". There will be many more online.

When at the interview:

1. Make a great first impression by introducing yourself. If they offer you their hand to shake, shake their hand. If they don’t offer, it looks great if you offer, but if you feel uncomfortable offering, don’t feel you have to.

2. Smile and say “please" and “thank you" to both the interviewer and any other employees that help you. The interviewer’s priority is to hire someone who can work effectively with the current team, and friendliness and politeness will show them that you can do this without you even having to say anything about your skills.

3. Compliment them when relevant but don’t come across ingenuine. For example, this could be commenting on how they’ve decorated they shop/bar, if you genuinely like it.

4. If they offer you a drink, say yes! You can take a sip of water before answering questions, giving you time to think of an anwer. It will also help to calm your nerves.

5. Don’t panic. A job interview can be scary so really try and reframe the interview as a conversation, not an *INTERVIEW*. Try to stay calm, breathe and fake it until you make it. There will be other interviews, and you’re still gaining experience just by even being interviewed.

In the relief of an interview being over, it is easy to not ask any questions. Think of any questions you want to ask in advance and write them down. This will show the employer that you’re organised and serious about the job. Here are some good questions to ask at interview:

1. How many hours & what hours will be expected of you?
I personally would not recommend working more than 12 hours each week alongside studying.

2. Ask about their policy for booking time off

3. What sort of training will be provided?

4. How will my shifts be released & how much notice will I get with them?

5. Are the other members of staff students or locals and ask about their age)?

6. Pay (if not already listed)

7. Uniform

8. Can you transfer to another branch at home?

Of course, it goes without saying, if you struggle juggling the job or if you don’t feel respected or happy in the job, always put your mental health and your degree first and leave.

Hopefully this helps you feel a bit more equipped to go into the world of job hunting!