After all the studying, writing of essays and little sleep, graduation seems the perfect ending to your college career, however, it is just a stepping stone as you move into that next phase of your life, getting your first professional job.
To do this you will need to create a CV, yet students need to be mindful of some of the do’s and don’ts when creating their CV as simple mistakes could be the difference of getting the interview or not.
According to a March 2009 survey conducted by Careerbuilder.com, companies receive 75 resumes (CVs) for their open positions. This means students need to ensure that hiring managers see a perfect CV that best represents your skills or experience.
“The fundamental mistake college graduate makes they’re not selling themselves,” said Paul Mullan, a leading Irish CV expert with the company CVSolutions. “The work experience they have they’re not selling it to its potential.”
If students performed highly during college achieving 1:1 or 2:1 marks, Mullan says students need to say this on their CV. Also, he acknowledges that most college students may not have a lot of experience, yet he is quick to point out all degree programs have projects and students need to count this as experience on their CV.
“You’ve used a lot of the skills and techniques you’ll use in the real world. It’s turning projects or assignments into work experience,” Mullan said.
Mullan says another mistake students run into on their CV is it is too cluttered with too many words to get their point across can turn employers off. Students need to remember visual appearance is just as important.
“One element [to avoid clutter] is to use bullet points and use short, snappy, impactful statements,” Mullan said.
Students want to avoid using the word ‘I’ on their CV, instead Mullan says, begin with an action verb.
“Avoid spelling and grammar mistakes,” Mullan said.
Students also need to think of their CV as their personal ad, according to Seamus Fitzpatrick who is the head of the business faculty at Griffith College Dublin and author of booklet Career Guidance & Professional Development.
“This is your opportunity to promote yourself, as such you want to get it right,” Fitzpatrick said.
Students need to make sure they are formatting their CVs like a professional; keeping them easy to read says Fitzpatrick. There may not be a right way to create your CV however Fitzpatrick says there definitely is a wrong way.
“Focus on skills and experience to date,” Fitzpatrick said.
In his booklet Fitzpatrick says, the most important attribute of a successful CV is that it explains very clearly to the reader what it is that you can do for them.
“Your CV should demonstrate that you have the relevant skills, attributes and experiences for the specific job which you are applying for,” said Fitzpatrick.
Employers want to see evidence on their CV according to both Moloney and Mullan.
“If you make a statement, show evidence if you make a statement,” Mullan said.
All three say, “Don’t lie on your CV.”
Employers understand students will have limited experience and students should not get discouraged, says Fitzpatrick.
“Employers are hiring on potential,” said Fitzpatrick.
Students need to be aware that the purpose of the CV is not to get you the job, rather to get you the interview says Fitzpatrick.
“Remember that you are not writing a CV for yourself, you are writing it for the reader and therefore as you write your CV put yourself in the shoes of the intended reader,” Fitzpatrick says in his booklet.
“Internships are big,” Moloney said.
Internships are a great way to gain experience as well as make contacts for references says Moloney.
“Networking is the best way to get a job,” Fitzpatrick said.
Mullan says students need to remember that a hiring manager might spend 20 seconds to review your CV so don’t copy formats of other people’s CVs.
“What you’re trying to is stand out, differentiate, not fit in, not look the same as everyone else,” said Mullan.
In the qualifications summary Mullan says keep it to five to six points.
“Give employers as much information as you can so they don’t have to ask questions,” said Moloney.
When it comes to social media, students need to be heeding this warning from Fitzpatrick as more companies look at an applicant’s social media page to learn more about the person.
“To all students be careful on what you post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as it could come back to haunt you,” Fitzpatrick said.
Students should be prepared as sending out CVs to companies with and without job openings is not job hunting. Moloney says students cannot take the ‘spray and pray’ approach when sending out their CVs.
“Job hunting is a job itself. It’s building networks and contacts,” Fitzpatrick said. “Students need to treat it as a job.”
- Sell yourself Don’t go over 2 pages
- Should be visually appealing Don’t have valuable information on page 2
- Have a clear header Don’t use ‘I’
- Do use personal achievements Don’t have spelling and Grammar errors
- Do use college experience Don’t have to many font styles
- Sell your qualifications Don’t have huge breaks on your CV
- Do have a professional E-mail Don’t have a silly E-mail address
- Do keep record of where you apply Don’t lie
- Do taylor resume for job
- Do follow up