8 Ways to Boost Your CV at University

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It can be a daunting prospect thinking about life after University. In amongst all the other pressures of university life, particularly the hard study of third year, focusing on graduate jobs tends to drop quite far down the pecking order

But it needn't be so stressful. There's plenty of small and medium commitments you can integrate into your university life to prepare yourself for the big wide world. You may even find that you're doing plenty already!

What's important is that you know how to position your activities to put yourself in the most favourable light. Let's get under way with...

Get a part time job

It may be that you have more pressing financial concerns for starting the job search early. While you may feel like a coffee shop job or spending weekends pulling pints isn't embellishing your CV at all, it can actually be a huge boost provided you know how to spin it.

Companies looking to hire a graduate love talking about communication skills. They expect entry level candidates to have the ability to communicate both within the company and to clients with professional ease and the experience of dealing with customers every day will prepare you for this brilliantly. You've also proven you can effectively manage your time between work, a social life and study, as well as the development of problem solving and team work skills.

Don't just get involved, lead!

Of course getting involved in a society, student newspaper or sports team can boost your CV. But what will really impress employers is if you've managed to juggle a leadership role with your studies.

Think about taking on an editorial role at the newspaper, or an officer role within your society. Even if you only feel like you can commit to a mid-level role, employers will know you've had valuable leadership experience and professional organisational skills. If you've worked with developing charity or sponsorship deals for your society, you've also developed key B2B skills.

More importantly, it'll give you more professional examples to use in an interview situation to answer questions like 'Tell me of a time you dealt with a conflict...' as opposed to the latest argument with your housemate over the dishes.

Sell, Sell, Sell

Graduate jobs in Sales are in high demand at the moment, and while it might seem incidental, selling tickets or flyering on the streets is a great boost to your CV. If you're looking for a Sales role, chances are your grad job won't be as hard as trying to convince a passing student to take your unwanted flyer. It'll give you good examples of when you had to get innovative, and will teach you tricks of the trade way before you even have to start.

Even if you don't think a Sales job is for you, all sorts of applications will benefit from a Sales background. Any client facing role will need an element of persuasion to it, and if you want to become a freelancer or start your own business, you'll be selling yourself every day.

Make connections with your tutors

Don't be afraid to connect with your tutors, especially in art and design fields as the chances are that they were in the industry for a time before they took up teaching. This will have left them with plenty of contacts, and advice for how to get started. If you get on with them, they're much more likely to open up their address book for you.

Use your careers service

Students tend to view careers services as daunting and outdated, but they often have amazing untapped resources that you only realise existed once you left, and wish you'd used. Once you're out in the real world, you'll realise the amount of professionals willing to give you free CV reviews and mock interviews drops to zero very quickly.

If you're interested in starting a fledgling business at university, they can often help you with that too. The reality is that many careers services are under-used and resource rich, so no matter what your requirements are it's always worth asking.

Talk to your older friends

If you have any friends who've recently entered the graduate jobs world, they are an invaluable resource. Being out in the big wide world gives you a perspective on all of the things you wished they'd done while at university to supplement your degree.

Even more importantly, if they've secured a graduate job, they'll be able to chart how they got there and give you some strong guidelines on how to succeed.

Start Blogging

This is particularly relevant if you're looking to go into PR, communications, marketing or journalism. In an ideal world it would be good to start blogging about the career you want to get into, but if you're unsure, just start writing. Think about building a following and you'll show you're able to write to your audience.

If you want to take it a step up, download Google Analytics. You will learn how to use an incredibly important tool and hopefully have some successful figures to show to potential employers when you start looking for a job.

Volunteering your way to a job

Volunteering isn't just a feel good way to spend your time at university, it can be a really important boost to your graduate prospects. Whether you want to work abroad or closer to home, many charities will be more than happy to accept your help in an area you want to move into. It's a great way to cut your teeth in marketing, admin, PR, Sales and all sort of other sectors.

Lots of charities will offer free training schemes too, which can lead to accredited awards that will look really impressive on your CV, and give you something really fulfilling to talk about in an interview.

Interested in applying for graduate jobs when you leave university? Take a look at our graduate jobs page to see the kind of entry level roles on offer!

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