Putting together your first “proper” CV after graduating from university can be a bit of a daunting task. It’s easy to assume that without any real-world experience in the dream job sector you’re pursuing, you’ll be struggling to fill the page.
In fact, there’s lots of things that everybody can put on their CV to grab the attention of a future employer.
It is of course not just the skills you learn from employment that can help you pick your first job. Just ask yourself the following questions when putting together your CV and it will be impressively full in no time.
1. Which areas of your degree are particularly relevant to the industry you want to work in?
If you’ve been concentrating on getting your degree for the past few years, this is where you will have been gathering the majority of the skills that will be useful for the working world. Think about specific parts of your degree which match most closely with your chosen career.
Look at specific research tasks, projects, writing and experiences that you had to complete to get your degree and go into detail about these. This can be especially helpful if your degree isn’t specifically related to the job you’re seeking, or, it’s a more general degree, such as English.
2. Have you done any work experience/summer jobs?
Did you complete any short work experience stints while at University? Even if not wholly relevant to the job you’re after now, they still show that you were committed and motivated enough to find work when perhaps it wasn’t even necessary.
List any skills you picked up that will help with the job you’re applying for. Similarly, if you worked during the weekends/evenings/summer while at Uni, this is also helpful – even if it was just something simple like a bar or shop job, there will still be elements that are transferable to other careers.
3. Have you done any extra-curricular activities that are particularly relevant?
It’s not just your degree that will look good on your CV. Did you take on any extra responsibilities during your time at University? For instance, were you a student representative? Did you help to organise the summer ball? Were you responsible for raising money for charity? Anything like this can show your organisational skills, management capabilities, trustworthiness and dedication, amongst other things, so make sure you include them on your CV.
4. Did you belong to any societies/clubs/groups while at University?
Most Universities have a fairly large range of different groups you can join during your studies. So, whether that’s a shared interest in a particular hobby, a debating society, a political group, sports club or amateur dramatics society, joining one of these can be great to put on your CV, especially if you took a particularly active role within the group. Even better if the group is linked in some way to the career you want to pursue.
5. Did you win any awards/special prizes?
It kind of goes without saying that winning an award or special prize should be pride of place on your CV. If you can, try to explain how this shows a particular skill that could be useful within a job role. Also detail what you won the award for, when you won it, what you had to do to win it, and how many other people you were up against to win the award.
6. What are your career objectives?
There’s little point littering your CV with a list of general skills/attributes that every jobseeker has at this point in your career. Instead, use the space more wisely to outline what your objectives are, and how you plan to achieve them in the coming years. This shows your ambition and makes your CV standout more in a sea of clichés. Tailor your objectives to each job you apply for, especially if they are in completely different industries.