18/12/2015 10:06 GMT | Updated 17/12/2016 05:12 GMT

Students! Get Ahead of the Pack for the Great Job Hunt of 2016

Christmas can seem like the ideal time to clock off from university, once the dreaded first semester exams are out of the way. However, before picking up that turkey drumstick or downing that mulled wine, the festive period offers a great opportunity to students to evaluate their job prospects going into the new year. These top five tips will make you fighting ready for your job hunt in 2016.

1. The Little Guys Matter Too

Many students have grand expectations of working for some of the biggest companies in the world, especially through graduate schemes. Competition is fierce for such roles and the application period is often lengthy and quite involving.

By contrast, SMEs and startups are lean, flexible and for the most part are looking for young and hungry talent, meaning the application process is normally quicker and the prospects of securing a job that bit more likely. Such companies also have an 'everyone pitch in' mentality, meaning you will gain a wide variety of experiences, which will only add to your overall skills.

Widen your focus to both big and smaller firms, this way you increase your chances of securing a job.

2. More Education Is Not Always A Solution

If job prospects are looking grim, some students may seek to forestall the inevitable and return to education. With university fees topping out at at least £9,000 per year, this is a costly decision which only delays the day when you will have to look for a job. Instead, seek even part time or freelance employment to beef up the gaps in your CV and make yourself more attractive to potential employers.

3. Have Someone To Support You

Hunting for a job can be a draining and time-consuming experience. Getting rejected time and time again can really hit your confidence, that's why having someone in a similar boat can really keep spirits high. If you're both looking for similar jobs, in the same field, why not combine your resources? It helps to cut down on your own precious time, especially at busy periods like the exam season.

4. Social Media Can Be Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy

Nearly all employers will now thoroughly research your background both on professional networks like LinkedIn and more personal ones like Facebook and Twitter. This offers a great opportunity to build your own 'brand' to them - a good profile can really offer a fantastic insight into your own skills and personality. By contrast, if you've pictures of you looking particularly worse for wear, this can actually swing a potential employer's opinion of you and cost you a coveted job. Think long and hard before posting something that could impact upon your job hunt.

5. The Freelance Student

Many students see their part-time work as simply a stepping stone (or a chore) before landing their dream job. However, as mentioned above, a new world is open to you through freelancing. This type of work offers a huge chance to enhance your skills and experience and is also a viable way to earn money, while working flexible hours. With over half of UK students (56%) now working this way and making themselves more employable, what are you afraid of?