In a competitive job market with hundreds of thousands of students graduating each year, many students worry that they will not stand out. So here are a few tips:
Don’t come and tell us when you graduate that you wish you had done something in your first year. Being at university is a bit like a full-time job, you need to build on experience and occasionally be out of your comfort zone to have a successful outcome. It’s too easy to drift along and suddenly 3 years have passed.
- MAKE A PLAN (it’s not too late even if you are going into your final year next year.)
- SEEK ADVICE – yes talk to us, we can point you in the right direction.
- TAKE ACTION – Don’t wait around, it really is a case of you snooze you lose!
In order to stand out you must have done something. It sounds stupid, of course you have done something, you have a degree, but you would be amazed to see how many graduates come out with just that and nothing else to show for their three years.
- Volunteer – often its the first step to getting experience on your CV which will make you more employable and get you your first paid job.
- Have a part-time job – (but if it’s just working at McCluckys don’t let it take over, you need to find time for other experience too.)
- Get involved in University life, course reps, peer mentoring, student societies & sports can all look good on your CV as long as you are ACTIVELY involved, don’t just sit in the background, make a difference.
- Use your vacations, opportunities exist for all year groups. Formal placements, internships, insight days, short projects and extended voluntary projects.
- Attend networking events organised by the Careers Service, your school and by professional societies.
A key complaint from employers is that students don’t graduate with skills for the job market and are not ready for work. You can stand out by demonstrating that you have these skills gained from the experiences above.
Making applications – it’s not university challenge!
One way to stand out at applications and at interview is to use those skills university students are famous for RESEARCH SKILLS. An outstanding application is often not one from an outstanding person it’s simply from someone who has done their homework.
- Research the employer – what are their unique selling points – why are they different from their competitors? What matters to them?
- Research the job role – what does it really involve and why do you want to do it?
- What skills will be needed and do you have them? Provide evidence.
Most applicants simply don’t do this the research, so they could have tonnes more experience than you but if their applications are poor then they won’t get shortlisted.
It’s also not a design contest, your CV does not need to LOOK different from everyone elses it should BE different. It’s the content that counts …
It may be a crowded job market but it’s not that hard to be outstanding.
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