As fun and stimulating as college and university can be, we don’t go for the student discounts do we? (although they are great, and sorely missed as a graduate…) We go with hope in our hearts and aspirations aplenty, looking ahead to the day when we can apply, to that scheme or that industry and get a shiny acceptance letter in return.
Starting to seriously think about your career and develop a fantastic CV is something that needs to be considered early on in your studies and a good careers service can be an invaluable source of information when thinking about careers that interest you.
Sending off numerous CV’s and application forms and hearing nothing in return can be frustrating, but don’t worry, no matter what the media would have us believe there are jobs out there for talented individuals like you! It’s all a matter of perseverance and learning from your successes and mistakes. Of course, it’s important to recognise what might be preventing you from being swamped with invitations to interview, so we’ve highlighted some of the dos and don’ts of CV writing to help you sell yourself more effectively.
Trust us, there’s no better feeling than when all that hard work pays off and those golden words of ‘you’re hired’ are uttered. Those nights spent pouring over a text book and meeting several deadlines just seem to melt away!
Use your initiative to effectively implement and develop fantastic job applications! Using dynamic words and phrases is not only important to make your CV appear positive and proactive to the reader, but is also crucial for any computer scanning software that might be looking for these kind of terms. Ensure you use these ‘buzz’ words strategically as forcing them in all over the place is likely to put an employer off.
Is one of your best skills your ability to lead a team? Don’t just say you have effective leadership skills and leave it there, include evidence and explain when you have had to lead a team and how you contributed to a successful outcome. Using the STAR technique is a good point to remember for interviews and helps you structure your evidence clearly.
For many people writing two pages for a CV is the only way they can get all of their achievements, work experience and qualifications to fit, but any more than two pages is generally considered unnecessary. Employers often receive vast numbers of CVs, writing a CV that is detailed but to the point will capture attention better than a rambling CV.
Fluent in Italian and English? Put it on there! Depending on the job most candidates won’t have such a unique skill set. Of course, it’s also important to highlight any comprehensive IT skills that may help or be essential to the job you are applying for, such as InDesign for Journalists or ANSYS for Engineers. Relevant keywords also help internet databases pick out key terms as unfortunately CVs are often checked by computers before they even reach a human being.
Many students have part time jobs or hold voluntary roles whilst studying, but writing down how one of your duties was to take the bins out on a Wednesday won’t enthral any employer. Instead include your achievements in the role, not all the finer points of the job description. Including the most relevant points at the beginning of your CV will also help keep an employer’s attention. Remember you have to strike that fine balance between including relevant information and achievements and being to the point.
Of course your CV will mostly stay the same but this gives you the opportunity to show how you are perfect for the job in your covering letter, a covering letter is also a fantastic way to expand on your CV and further showcase your achievements. The covering letter should also highlight your desire to work for each individual company you are applying to.
While there is no standard format for what constitutes a good CV, an easily digestible layout will be appreciated by employers. Ensure you don’t cram your CV with large amounts of small text and consider using bullet points to break up chunks of information. A good layout will automatically make your CV look professional.
Careers advisers and job sites generally suggest candidates avoid putting their photo on their CVs, with the University of Kent finding that 13% of employers would automatically reject a CV if a photo was included. 61% of employees would also automatically reject a CV with spelling mistakes or typos. Be warned, when employers have piles of CVs to get through, spelling errors give them an excuse to reject your application.
New College Manchester offers careers counselling and CV workshops to help you prepare for your adventures in job hunting and there are also numerous online resources to help you create the perfect application. Showcasing your skills isn’t always an easy task but help is at hand to make sure you don’t sell yourself short.