Now Hiring! The reality of finding a student job in Dublin

Abby Cleaver recounts her experience of gaining employment whilst advising others on how to approach the world of work

Looking for a part-time job that suits a busy college life can be an uphill battle, especially with hundreds of other students doing the same. I personally know how hard trying to find employment as a student is, particularly with having little to no experience, but it is possible and it will happen for you in time. That said, here is a breakdown of the student job search (to avoid breaking down over the student job search).

Figuring out what’s right for you

College life is a busy one. Sometimes just getting to lectures and keeping on top of readings can be hard enough, and now you need to figure out where to fit a part-time job on top of that.

“However, a lot of students opt for evening work after college; a viable option that leaves you with free weekends or that gives you more time for some extra hours.”

Students typically tend to work evening and weekend shifts outside of college hours. From my own experience, and the experience of the majority of my friends, weekends seem to be a good fit. However, a lot of students opt for evening work after college; a viable option that leaves you with free weekends or that gives you more time for some extra hours. Dedicate some time to think about what kind of shift would suit you, bearing in mind that the most available evening work for students is typically found in restaurants and bars. If that kind of fast-paced job isn’t your cup of tea, maybe consider a weekend morning job in a retail environment or coffee shop type setting.

Understandably, the job search is hard enough, and you may just want to apply everywhere and see what lands. However, if you get a job that is unsuited to your schedule, or to you, you will likely end up looking for a job again, feeling even more frustrated than the first time.

It seems like everywhere is hiring at the moment, so why is it so hard to find a job?

Where to find jobs

It seems like everywhere is hiring at the moment, so why is it so hard to find a job? Applying online can be easier sometimes because who carries their CV at all times to drop into places? but remember that they’re easier for everyone, meaning more competition. Really trying to give yourself the best chance includes applying to as many places as possible, including that cute corner café with the flyer in the window. Don’t overwhelm yourself with this, but the more openings you apply for, the more likely you’ll start getting responses.

With that being said, there is something to say about online job advertisements. Big companies like Circle K, McDonalds and Argos tend to use job sites to reach a wider audience. Sites like Indeed, Get the Shift, and Jobs.ie can be helpful to not only find job opportunities, but to sift through the ones that don’t suit you by narrowing down your searches by location and shift type. As well as the obvious sites, a lot of local independent places tend to use their social media accounts (i.e., Instagram and Facebook) to promote job openings.

As well as this, tell people you are looking for a job. A few of my friends found jobs because they knew someone who knew someone who was hiring. Even if you don’t have any connections at least people will think of you when they hear something, which could just be the one. There is no shame in taking a bit of help during your job search it might help quicken the process!

How to apply

Now that you know what kind of a job you’re looking for and where to look, the next step is writing a CV.

A CV is basically a little introduction to your potential employer about you, your past experience, and your contact details. Basic CV tips are to make the information clear and succinct, and to present yourself the way you would like the employer to view you.

“Rather than lie, I would advise you to take what you have done and embellish at most.”

A tip a lot of people will give you if you don’t have relevant experience is to lie. I personally would not recommend that. Maybe lying about your experience will get you a certain length further, but do not lie about anything you could not answer questions about. If you say you have used a card machine before, and then have to explain why you actually don’t know how to during a trial period in a busy restaurant, it might not look too good. Rather than lie, I would advise you to take what you have done and embellish at most. I worked as an elf in Rathwood over Christmas two years in a row and not once did I say the word “elf” on my CV or in my interview. I told them I had a customer facing position in a fast-paced environment during one of the busiest times of the year and left out that I was wearing an elf costume.

If you don’t have any experience, try to include clubs or societies you’ve been involved in and what skills you have learned from them. Team sports taught you teamwork, while youth theatre helped you develop communication skills. There are many things you can include to give them a positive idea of you.

A good tip to remember is something my manager told me when he hired me (without any relevant restaurant experience). He said that sometimes they opt to hire inexperienced people they think will be receptive to training rather than very experienced people who seem harder to work with. I think the overall message you should be trying to convey in your CV, and in any interviews or trial periods, is that you are friendly and easy to get along with, experience or not.

A college/work life balance

Balancing work and college can be really difficult. Trying to motivate yourself to get up early and study before an evening shift can feel impossible sometimes (or most of the time). The best thing you can do is to try to look after your physical and mental wellbeing. If you’re struggling with tiredness before or after your shift, consider your length and quality of sleep and how to improve them. Look at what you’re eating to fuel yourself before and during a shift.

When I started working, I found that I completely stopped going to the gym (something I used to look forward to) for a while because I felt far too tired working evenings. Eventually, when I started to go again, I found I actually felt better and far more energized. So, if you find yourself struggling with tiredness or motivation (or likely both), find out what little changes would help. Try going for a walk, or have a warm shower, or at least make sure that you are drinking enough water and eating good food regularly. Little acts of self-care can often make a big difference. Working doesn’t feel like an option for most students (and life in Dublin can be so expensive), so try to look after yourself while doing it, because you deserve to feel good (and not totally broke).