When you get hired to do work for which you will be paid, we call that employment. What you have that will make the hiring manager choose you from among the candidates for that position, we call that employability.

In an article published in 2015 by Times Higher Education, employability is defined as that “set of attributes that makes a graduate worth employing: how well a student’s learning matches with what the labor market needs.” Given that your course is still in demand when you graduate, what is your edge over the thousand other job seekers? How do you increase today your employability tomorrow?

1.Study hard.
You have heard this a gazillion times since kindergarten. This time, take your teacher’s advice seriously. Some companies factor in a grade requirement when hiring. Though it is not the sole indicator of success, a good academic record gives insight into your capacities. It says how much hard work you put into it. Your 1.00’s will dazzle, but it is what you can do with it that will get you hired.

2. Immerse yourself in university life.

Higher education is the perfect time to develop both hard skills and soft skills necessary for work and lifelong learning. Harness your aptitude for technology, but do not forget to discover your other talents and develop community spirit. Take leadership roles, organize events (or attend one), and meet new people. Take advantage of the opportunities to serve and excel. All these will serve as foundation for your future job.

3. Improve your communication skills.

In a survey done in 2015 among over 100 companies in Ireland, 52.3% of the employers identified communication as the number one soft skill that graduates are found wanting. You do not have to be a great orator or a seasoned writer in order to get a job, however. What is essential is that you do things well, even in college. Check that written book review for grammatical errors. Practice that individual oral report. Write down notes. Stop texting and listen to your teachers instead.

4. Go on an internship.

A recent study led by Bond University in Australia reports that the number one graduate employability strategy set is work experience, placements, and internships. Here in UA&P, our business-academe partnerships and intense on-the-job training enable our students to get ready for work. With hands-on, practical experiences guided by industry professionals, our students increase their chances of being employed after graduation.

5. Volunteer.

It is not to make a good impression on your resumé. It is to show that you are willing to help others and make a difference in their lives. Here you get to practice teamwork, which is always required in any business organization. Your emotional intelligence will be at play. Will you be flexible and mobile? Employers are on the lookout not only for those who can deliver results, but can also mix well with others.

6. Build your personal online brand.

It would be easy for your future employers to double-check your profile online. Will what they see be as impressive as what you depict in your resumé? The key here is integrity. Today, what websites do you subscribe to? How do you conduct yourself in the chats? What kind of pictures do you post? What comments do you give? What articles do you share? Now is as good a time as any to make your online presence consistent with your character and aspirations.

7. Find a mentor.

Ask for advice on the career that you envisioned for yourself. How do you make yourself ready for the changes in the labor market? How can you become more at ease with people, more patient, or more positive? How can you deal with your vices (like laziness and pride) that might affect your future work? It is never too early to prepare for your first job. UA&P’s mentoring program, which starts from the student’s first year in the University, provides venues for questions like these. Students are guided on their personal and professional growth, enabling them to acquire the confidence needed to face the world of work.