As you start looking for your first co-op, internship, or post-grad job, consider how any of your experiences can strengthen an application and give you a competitive advantage. It’s easy to overlook summer jobs or part-time jobs if they don’t seem directly related to your career goals. You may think, how can flipping a burger, working a cash register, being a nanny, or volunteering at an event help me land a job in a more professional setting? However, in almost any job you have had in the past, you have learned something new, gained experience you can draw on, or worked with people that can help you achieve your future career goals.
Identify transferable skills and accomplishments
Skills that employers are looking for can be developed in a variety of ways. For example, mentoring new servers in a restaurant shows leadership and communication skills; completing landscaping jobs on-time shows time management skills; and working as part of sales team shows collaboration and teamwork. When identifying which skills you have developed, consider which ones were required to complete the tasks and responsibilities of your role. Here’s five ways you can easily leverage it.
Update your resume and LinkedIn account
Once you have identified which transferable skills you have developed, highlight them on your resume with strong profile and action statements. If you need extra help with this, attend the “Improve your Cover Letter and Resume” workshop, watch the e-webinar on writing a winning resume, and/or book a one-on-one appointment with a Career and Recruitment Specialist.
Maintaining a LinkedIn profile is a great tool to show your skills and qualifications to employers – and have recruiters come to you.
- Looking for help getting started on LinkedIn? Watch the “Your Career Starts Here” and “Top 5 Profile To-Do’s” videos on the LinkedIn for Students Youtube playlist.
- Already have a profile? Attend our next LinkedIn workshop which covers how to maximize the social media platform.
Think of examples from your work experience that showcase your skills and abilities
Expand and illustrate the skills you highlighted in your resume and cover letter during upcoming interviews. Your cover letter should provide specific examples of key skills the job requires. Additional examples can be provided during the interview. Avoid repeating what is in your cover letter – they have that already; tell them something new.
Interviewers commonly use behavioural interview questions that ask you to draw on previous experiences. For more information on behavioural interviews, watch our e-webinar which covers how to formulate the perfect answer.
Request references and/or LinkedIn endorsements
Show future employers you can walk the walk by proactively putting together a list of references that reinforce your application. An additional option is to ask colleagues and supervisors to endorse your skills on LinkedIn, which can add credibility to a job application, attract recruiters looking for your particular skillset, and increase your profile’s professionalism.
Stay connected with your employer
Whether your summer job or volunteer experience was in an industry you would like to pursue as a career or it was just to help pay for tuition, your former employers can be great resources to you in the future. Building your network with a variety of contacts has the chance to offer some unique opportunities down the road. Be sure to collect business cards, connect on LinkedIn, and thank your employer for the experience during your time with the organization. Keep in touch in case new opportunities with greater career development potential or full-time roles become available. Since your former boss or company is familiar with your capabilities and experience, they may be more likely to consider you over other candidates who they don’t know.