Where to look
When looking for a job in Reading, there are a few different ways to scout out who is hiring:
The Oracle has a list of places that are hiring within the shopping centre posted on the wall just outside the toilets by the riverside. They also post these online in the Oracle Jobs section of their website, so have a scroll through and see what you can find. They also specify which openings require online applications or in-person CVs, so make sure you apply in the way that is requested!
Many shops still hire the old-fashioned way, especially along Broad Street and Friar Street, so keep an eye out for posters in their windows showing that they are hiring. It also doesn’t hurt to go into shops and ask about vacancies, as you never know if people are looking. You may even find out about upcoming opportunities. Make sure you check out their websites, too!
Job Search Websites
Indeed.com is my personal choice as it keeps itself updated and includes all available jobs in Reading, both in and outside of the Oracle. Make sure you browse through these websites as it can be an easy way to see what is available all in one place.
The University often hire temporary staff for various events, including open days, welcome week, and summer ball. Though these are temporary jobs, many staff members often receive the chance to stay on as permanent staff later on in the year. These types of jobs can also be a good way to make some quick money if you’re looking for more of a “quick fix” to a financial situation. Head on over to the University Job Shop in the Carrington building for some advice!
CVs and Cover Letters
Once you have found out whether a job requires an online application or a hard copy of your CV, make sure your application is as impressive as possible. Keep your CV up to date but to the point — most places prefer a CV to be about a page long as it makes it easier for them to look through the hundreds they receive. If somewhere requires a cover letter, make sure you make this personal to the company, explaining why you want to work there and what you can bring to the role. Avoid generic cover letters and make sure you do some research on the company beforehand!
Explaining Availability as a Student
The reality of retail is that, unfortunately, unless you are willing to work weekends, you probably won’t be getting any job offers. If you want to secure interviews, make sure that when asked about availability, you make it clear you are open to working weekends. As a student, you will also need to explain upcoming timetables. I find that’s it’s best to explain this by stating that until September your availability is very flexible, and that your timetable will be available in mid-September so that changes can be made in advance. Remember to emphasise your ability to work at the weekends!
If you are handing a CV into a store, make sure you look presentable. Wear clean and casual-smart clothing — first impressions are extremely important, so you don’t want to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed. Be friendly and confident when handing over the CV, and be clear when explaining your expectations and availability.
Unfortunately, applying to jobs online prevents you from being able to sell yourself in person to the company, so make sure you do your best to present yourself as an attractive candidate through your application. If they want you to talk about yourself, including things such as hobbies, education or skills, make sure you have enough to say, and that all of your points present you in a positive light. Some companies filter out candidates through situational tests before even accepting applications, so make sure that you are prepared for these. Learning about the company and having a look around online for advice about the tests can help you pass this hurdle!
Preparing for an Interview
Do Your Research
Make sure you do some research into the history of the company, including current policies and any other relevant facts that may aid you in an interview. In most cases, recruiters not only want to get to know you, but they also want to see how much you know about them — having a good amount of knowledge on the place you are applying to can help you stand out from the crowd and shows you really care. Websites like TheGlassDoor and online forums are also a great way to find or what to expect from an interview. TheGlassDoor is a place for others to post about their interview and work experiences and can help you to avoid the nerves of the “unknown”.
Follow the Dress Code
Make sure you dress appropriately for an interview— it’s always better to be too smart than too casual. If a place doesn’t specify a dress code, it’s always best to assume that smart dress is expected. If you are told to dress “as you please”, sticking with smart-casual can help to give off a good first impression as this shows that you take pride in your appearance and that you are taking the interview seriously.
Lastly, don’t be discouraged!
Sometimes job hunting can take a while, especially in a university town where competition is fierce, but giving up after a few rejections is not the answer. Keep applying and make sure you are actively searching for openings as new job vacancies are posted every day. Good luck!