Q. I have just finished my final exams in college and I am starting to look for work. What do I put on my CV?
A: As you are starting out with little or no professional experience to detail on the CV, it is important to develop a CV that you will pitch you in the best possible way. In fact, that’s a rule of thumb for any CV, regardless of what stage you are at in life: all you can do at any given time is pitch yourself in the best possible way.
Make sure that your CV stands out and that is reflects your skills in a favourable light. You may not have the experience yet, but you have the education, and to get that qualification, you had to complete projects, theses, and other undertakings.
Excavate these undertakings for the most detail you can manage. You don’t say what course you are now completing, but let’s presume for a second that you’re an IT graduate-in-waiting. You should look to your Final Year Project to sell you in the marketplace.
Give some detail on it. Talk about what you set out to do, and how you did it. Thus you are bringing the employer into the area you want them in – an area where your IT skills stand out.
Your opening personal profile needs to be positive. It should show that you are enthusiastic about getting going in the world of work, and that you are looking forward to bringing value to putative employers.
A good tip is to have a paragraph at the top of the CV listing your key skills and giving an example of each. Don’t just say ‘creative’ and leave it at that: the meat comes from you adding something like “as evidenced by the gaming project I successfully completed for my Final Year Project.”
Thus, you should support all claims you make. Without support, claims are just words: with support, they come to life and are made real.
If you have voluntary experience before, or during, college, put that in too. Give more prominence to experience relates to the area in which you seek work – i.e. if you’re a school-teacher with experience of producing musicals, let that be known. It could be the extra-curricular fillip that brings you over the line. Or if you’re a sports science graduate, it can be good to highlight your soccer coaching experience.
People are constantly surprised by the gold-dust that lurks in their voluntary experience. You should use it to your advantage. When chasing a job, you need to deploy every piece of ‘edge’ you can get.
Grades in key subjects are also good to show, particularly if they are impressive. If you were a member of a relevant society or club in college, list that too.
If you were elected to a position of trust in an organisation, put it down on paper: everybody else going for the job will be using whatever they can to win over the employer, so you must too.
Preparing your CV is a time to hide your light atop a skyscraper, not underneath a bushel.
Sli Nua Careers (Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo / Drum East, Bushy Park, Galway, tel 094 95 42965 / 091 528 883, www.SliNuaCareers.com) carry out CV Preparation, Mock Interviews, Interview Training, and Career Direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email GetThatJob@SliNuaCareers.com. They provide online CV makeovers at Slinuacareers.com/cv-preparation/cv-makeover/.