How part-time work helps build your graduate CV

How part-time work helps build your graduate CV

Job hunting after graduating will teach you things you wish you had known while you were still a student. For instance, you may be surprised to know that your qualifications on its own may not be enough to get you the job as you will be one of many applicants with similar qualifications. Employers/ recruiters are more interested in seeing how you have demonstrated your abilities using the theory obtained from your studies. Finding part-time work that is relevant to your field is a great way to boost your CV and set it apart from the rest. But where do you find part-time work that is relevant to your field, and how do you get involved? These are the questions this article seeks to answer.


The importance of part-time work for graduates

Having part-time work on your CV gives you an advantage with potential employers because it shows that you are multi-faceted and not just focused on academics. Businesses looking to hire graduates are more likely to select your CV if you have work experience because you have been exposed to the workplace. You would thus understand general workplace etiquette and will have obtained some training that graduates with no work experience still have to learn.


What kinds of part-time work can you do?

There are different types of part-time work you can do to help you gain work experience for your CV. Below are some examples:


An internship is usually a short-term contract that lasts either 3, 6 or 12 months. As an intern, you will gain valuable training that you could later use to fulfill your role in an entry-level job. During your internship, you will be exposed to administrative and strategic tasks, all of which can be added to your CV.  Some companies may even offer permanent employment at the end of your internship. 


A learnership is a work-based learning programme that is directly linked to an occupation. The purpose of a learnership is to prepare you for the workforce. Being enrolled in a learnership will allow you to learn the theory about a certain profession, and thereafter practice what you’ve learned with the guidance of a mentor. Once you have completed your learnership you will have an NQF registered qualification and the advantage of having both theoretical and practical knowledge of a particular occupation. Having a learnership on your CV puts you at an advantage with potential employers as they may even consider you for junior-level jobs. 

Job shadowing

Apart from knowing which position you want to secure after graduating. It is just as important for you to know which type of company you would like to work for someday. If, for example, you are a marketing graduate and want to work for a marketing agency, as opposed to a large media corporation, then approach a digital marketing agency about job shadowing a position that interests you. You can do the same for any other profession, and for any position. Essentially, job shadowing only allows you to observe a particular role, but you would be gaining insight into what the job entails and what the workplace culture is like. You would also be able to network and build a  reputation with skilled professionals in a specific industry. When job shadowing a position, you can see the latest digital programmes they use to perform their job as well as gain valuable career advice from top professionals. While all career types benefit from job shadowing, it is especially effective for jobs such as these:

  • Medical professions

  • Administrative work - Receptionists, personal assistants, and clerks 

  • Product development such as marketing, ICT and customer service

  • Hospitality

  • Skilled trades such as carpenters and electricians

Volunteer work

Giving back to the community by using your skills will positively impact on your CV. Volunteer work on your CV will create a good first impression and demonstrate strong values such as a positive attitude and being self-motivated. Employers will have a better sense of your character and it gives you experiences to draw on during an interview. As a volunteer, you could build up vital skills including soft skills which are useful to have in the workplace. Your skills could help build a positive future for the community and in doing so, allow you to grow a network with other professionals who are trying to do the same. Here is a list of some local NGOs for which you could volunteer:


Useful tools for me to have

With the approach of the 4th Industrial Revolution, more and more businesses are relying on technology to host their company data and systems. Companies are specifically using cloud-based programmes because it’s safer and more practical. Being able to use these programmes will, therefore, boost your CV and put you at an advantage with potential employers. You will most likely learn these skills while working part-time, if not, you can upskill yourself by accessing tutorials on Youtube. Here is a list of programmes and software skills that are beneficial for your CV:

  • Google drive

  • Google Docs

  • Excel

  • Microsoft office suite

  • Hootsuite

  • Adobe Indesign

  • Adobe PhotoShop

  • Cloud accounting

  • Asana or other collaborative tools


As daunting as it may seem, life after graduating is filled with exciting opportunities that include but are not limited to, part-time work. Part-time work will allow you to gain valuable skills that you can later add to your CV. The experience you gain from working part-time jobs will not only benefit your job search, but it can also help you to clearly define the direction in which you want your career to go. The exciting part comes from choosing a career you are passionate about and then building your CV around it, ensuring that all of the part-time work and skills you have acquired will bring you one step closer to landing your dream job after graduating.


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