Job hunting and exams – how to manage your time

When you’re a student, one of the most difficult things about searching for a job, work experience opportunity or internship is finding the time to fit everything in!

As we repeatedly stress in the Careers Centre, the most effective CVs and applications are those which have been tailored to the vacancy you’re applying for. That is, you need to show how you have the skills the recruiter is looking for, using precise and specific examples. You will be able to find out which skills are required by reading the job description carefully. (There are many resources which will help you tailor your application on the Careers website).

In addition, job applications should not just be quickly typed out and then sent off. To maximise your chances of success you may need to draft and redraft key elements, as well as proofreading.

But how will you ever have the time to tailor each application you make, let alone find vacancies to apply for, when you are also trying to do your reading, your exams and your essays, as well as trying to find time for part-time work or volunteering and having time to relax.

It can be really difficult to balance all of these competing priorities. But here are some tips on how to manage your time effectively so that you can write targeted and tailored applications as well as completing your studies.

  1. Set short-term goals

If you have multiple and competing demands – an essay due at the same time as a job application, for example – you can set yourself short-term goals to ensure that you achieve everything you want to. Write a list of your objectives, so that ticking off each one will give you a sense of accomplishment. Being intentional about how you approach your career planning alongside your studies can help to ensure that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

  1. Schedule your time

To make sure that you meet your short-term goals, it can be helpful to schedule your time. First, break down each task you need to complete into smaller tasks. For example, when writing a CV, you need to complete a variety of different small tasks: identifying the skills required by the job description, identifying examples of times when you have demonstrated these skills, writing persuasive, punchy and concise descriptions of these examples, formatting, proofreading and so on. Be realistic about how much time it will take you to achieve each task, and schedule time in your routine in which you will complete them. This will help you to translate your good intentions into tangible achievements.

  1. Prioritise

If you’re faced with multiple tasks you need to complete, it will be less overwhelming if you work out which need to be completed right away and which can be completed later, and then approach them in that order.

  1. Set long-term goals

One way of ensuring you make the best use of the time you have scheduled to work on a particular task and don’t procrastinate is to focus on what you want to achieve in the long-term. When I was doing my A-Levels, my teacher told me to put a picture of the university I wanted to attend over my desk, as a source of revision motivation. You can adopt a similar principle here: identify your aims in the long-term and then create tangible reminders of them which you can put in prominent places to motivate you even when you feel your enthusiasm is waning.

  1. Take breaks and look after yourself

Remember – especially during exams and revision – to schedule time for rest and relaxation.

Take care of yourself by taking breaks, getting a full night’s sleep and drinking water. This can help you to be more productive and feel less stressed.


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