It is safe to say that 2020 has been a disaster, however I saw a quote today that gave me some hope “may the last 2 months of 2020 be the plot twist you’ve been waiting for” (Female Hustlers). As students we have faced all sorts of challenges this year: online lectures, virtual meetings, no placement opportunities, placements from home and for many students coming out of placement and returning to university we have struggled to get part-time jobs to support us financially.

As someone who completed a 16-month placement in the marketing/ public relations industry I want to share my top tips on how you can take full advantage of 2020 and become more employable. Instead of moping around and focusing on what you are missing out on in the short term, take advantage! Now we have more free time that ever on our hands, little of us have part time jobs and a lot of third year students have no placements. Now is the time to make yourself more employable in the long-term and here is a few simple ideas on how to do it.

Create Professional Social Media Accounts

If you don’t have a LinkedIn, drop everything you are doing and go and make one. LinkedIn is a great platform for networking with professionals in your geographic area or field of interest. In fact I know students who have secured fantastic graduate jobs through their LinkedIn contacts. But the main reason that you should create a professional social media account is so that you can refer to it on your CV. All employers like to see what you get up on social media, therefore a professional account is much more attractive to them than your Instagram bikini pics, however if you are interested in the marketing, communications or PR industry these employers want to see evidence that you can copywrite and create social content. We do this everyday online by creating captions and posts. This is a great way to show employers that you can write creating and engaging social copy online. Another great platform for creating a professional account is twitter. Make a separate ‘professional’ twitter account, follow professionals in your field of interest and post/ engage with these people.

Take Advantage of FREE Qualifications

Instead of getting stuck into a binge worthy 9 season TV series at 3pm during day do something useful. There are loads of free online courses out there that present you with a certificate of completion, one being the free Google Digital Garage course- ‘Fundamentals of Digital Marketing’. I have taken this course myself and I can tell you first hand that it takes minimum effort, the content is fantastic and you will have lots of new skills to add to your CV, 26 to be specific! This course has 26 modules, some only lasting 15 minutes and you don’t have to complete it all at once (aim from now to Christmas). It teaches you up-to-date digital marketing skills that you may not find in your core textbooks for example: what works on your computer may not be appropriate for mobile or how to create great marketing emails on software’s such as Mailchimp. Skills like these on your CV will be very impressive in the eyes of employers in this industry. Personally, during the first lockdown I signed up to Skillshare online and took advantage of its free 3-month student membership via Unidays. I would highly recommended doing this as you can learn practically anything from how to create a video, setting up your own blog, using photo editing tools, creating a logo, creating a social media plan or even learning how to play the drums (if that’s what your into).

A sample of the skills you can learn on Skillshare

Create a Social Plan

Now more than ever local businesses are struggling and students need live experience for their CV. Why not get in touch with a small local business who is struggling and offer to create a social media plan for free. A social media plan may sound like a plot of work, but it is simply a plan of what you are going to post, any media that accompanies it (phot or video) and when you are going to post it. This could be for anyone with a crafts business to your local butcher. Ask if you could control their social media account for two or three weeks, analyse the engagement figures of the posts (likes, followers, shares etc.) and then give this business a few tips on how it can improve engagement with its the target audience. You could perhaps educate the business owner on the latest Instagram features (reels) or even TikTock. Within a few weeks you have some live experience to put on your CV, you can show that you can create a social plan, give advice on how to improve engagement and most importantly that you understand how to analyse social media figures.

Write a Blog Post

A huge part of my role on placement as a marketing assistant was copywriting for advertisements, press releases, and websites. I had to show that I understood various writing styles: whether it was to describe a product, encourage a call to action or make the public aware of an event. One great way to show that you have strong writing skills is to write a blog post- perhaps for your university blog. My advice would be to write three posts and have a different purpose in mind for each one. Then like before you can put on your CV that you have had blog posts published on your university blog. My final tip is to include at least one post that is relevant to your discipline for example: if it’s marketing, write about a marketing campaign that caught your attention.

To Conclude

Finally don’t be worried if others got placement and you didn’t. It’s 2020 a year that shook us all. There is no point stressing over things that we can’t control and for all you know those that got placements could be simply making their boss’s coffee. You have an advantage, you have all of this spare time to enhance your CV, skills & knowledge and above is only a small sample of ways in which you can do this. Don’t pass up on any opportunities that come your way whether it be class rep, joining a committee like the CIPR, signing up to virtual seminars or creating vlogs to show video creating skills. Take time to think about the things you already do and if they’re relevant to use in your CV and then get to work writing it. You can find great advice on Orlagh Claire’s blog: How To Make Your CV Stand Out.

As you can see there are so many opportunities that you can take advantage off (at home) this year and as the Famale Hustler’s said ‘make the last two moths of 2020 the plot twist you’ve been waiting for’.

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