When they come to university, many students work part-time to bolster their income and to also gain valuable experience of working life. Popular choices often include working in hospitality and leisure - in a pub, bar or restaurant, at a gym or an arts venue.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, most businesses aren’t able to recruit, and local restrictions means that many of the jobs that were previously available to students no longer exist. In these challenging times, it’s important to be able to be both persuasive and understanding when searching for jobs. Here’s my top tips on how to negotiate for a part-time job.
Be clear about what you want and need
The best way to start that inevitable job hunt is by first sitting down and working out your boundaries. Many students will have an income gap that needs to be filled between what they receive and their outgoing costs. Although it is sometimes painful and scarily realistic, working out how much you need to bring in each month, and how many hours that equates to with the minimum wage, means that you can be pragmatic about your expectations. That way when you’re applying for jobs, you know what you’re looking for and you can be far more focused in your search.
Particularly at the moment, being flexible about what you’re willing to do and when you’re happy to work is especially important. Before coronavirus, many students weren’t willing to work on Friday and Saturday nights, preferring to have those evenings off to spend time with their friends and flatmates. This meant that many employers were eager to find people willing to fill the gap. Being flexible means that you have a greater chance of being a good fit for the position you’re applying for. That is something that can only add to your employability in the current climate.
It’s easy to try and force yourself into the skill-set that a job needs when there isn’t much work. But be honest both with yourself and your employer about what you’re comfortable with and capable of doing. The last thing you want to do is back yourself into a corner and not be able to fulfill your responsibilities properly in a new role. Being frank with yourself about whether you really would be happy being on your feet for eight hours, or whether you’d be comfortable working nights is a really important part of applying for work.
At the same time, don’t feel like you shouldn’t apply for jobs that aren’t a little bit different. Many universities and students’ unions offer and promote work that is both diverse and dynamic. Not all students work in a bar or restaurant. Some are freelance writers, have their own online businesses or work in local museums or shops. Investigate opportunities based on your skills and interests and you’re sure to find something that works for you.
Perseverance is key
Above all else, it’s important to recognise that not getting a reply or not being invited to interview, or even not being offered the job you’ve applied for isn’t a sign of failure. With so many people looking for work, it’s a tough market. Perseverance is an important tool when applying for jobs. Keep your applications broad, your approach positive, and your aspirations high.