Build a CV
University life is about more than just studying. It's about developing as a person and gaining new life skills. That's why universities look at more than just your grades when making an offer and why your personal statement is so important. Demonstrating that you are willing and able to take on new challenges and skills makes you stand out from the crowd.
But what are we looking for and how do you get this experience?
There are plenty of opportunities to build your CV and the skills universities are looking for. Even the fun things you do like sports or music can improve your organisational or interpersonal skills.
Here are ten top tips to help make you more employable after graduation.
- Experience matters
Work experience and internships will often make you stand out. Employers know that a taste of the commercial world will sharply reduce the learning curve when you join the workforce full-time.
Unpaid volunteering highlights graduates with a social conscience and proactive work ethic.
- On-campus activities
Make the most of clubs, sports teams and social groups, particularly in positions of responsibility. They help to build teamwork and leadership skills.
- It's not just about your results!
Unless you're going down a route where you need explicit technical skills, it's often good to position yourself as a well-rounded individual. A good degree matters but so does everything else you did at university.
- Confidence shows
Some people are great at writing CVs but lack interpersonal skills. How well do you communicate what's on your CV? How well do you sell yourself? Do you say "I'm afraid I've only done this..." or "Actually, I've achieved this..."?
- Have you done your research?
Ensure you know at least something about the business where you're applying for a job. A question that begins "I was looking at your website and wondered..." is a good sign to employers. Also, it's often worth calling the company up before the interview to ask for more details about the job on offer.
It's amazing how many new graduates don't turn up on time for their interview or dress appropriately. Not every company expects a suit, but you should at least make the effort to find out about its dress code.
- Using your initiative
For employers, the most promising recruits are usually those who really made an effort. That can mean everything from entering undergraduate awards and competitions while at university, to making the best use of your contacts afterwards.
- Networking skills
Business is a social environment, so you will often have to demonstrate your skills at listening, making small talk and putting other people at their ease.
If you get asked "Why do you want to work here?" you should have a real answer and not just a pat response. You might not yet be thinking in terms of a lifelong career, but you should at least know why you've chosen that company.