Recently I helped a group of students with their personal statements for university applications. We spent just under 3 hours identifying skills and achievements as well as figuring out what really motivates them to go to university and study their chosen course. I was amazed at how fast the time went and they all made such a positive contribution to the workshop that we could have gone on for longer.
What I noticed though was how difficult it was for the students to recognise their skills and achievements. Many of them truly believed that they hadn’t achieved anything though after a bit of questioning were surprised by how much they had achieved. Many also didn’t like speaking about their achievements because they had never been encouraged to and felt that they were boasting. However, if they don’t speak up about their achievements how will others ever now about them; if written correctly, they won’t appear to be boasting.
We didn’t actually get round to talking about their CV so I decided to write these 3 CV tips for students because so many of them are being directed to use outdated conformist formats which will only block their job search.
- Companies want to know what value you will add so in addition to highlighting your qualifications, you have to be able to demonstrate the skills you have developed either via your work experience or through sport, hobbies, etc along with the achievements you have made by using these skills. Then write about them in a way that will catch the reader’s attention; don’t just say that you captained your football team, briefly explain the tactics you used to get to the top of the league in order to highlight your leadership and teamwork skills for example.
- Know the type of job you want and target your CV accordingly. Creating a one size fits all CV will not get you a job. Do you homework on the type of job and company you would like to work for, see what type of people they employ and find out about the market trends of the industry they are in and the challenges they are facing. Then tailor your CV to indicate how your skills will be of value to the company.
- Show what makes you different from all the other graduates with the same degree as you by building a focussed story that clearly indicates that you are worth hiring.
Remember that your CV is your marketing document so make sure to use it to highlight your unique selling points.