5 Things you can do to boost your CV right now!

Guidance

Before the start of the academic year, now is the perfect period to spend some time setting yourself up with a really strong CV. The Government’s announcement of a kickstart scheme to help increase youth employment is another great reason to get your CV in order and ready to start applying for the jobs that will come out of this. We’ve put together a list of ideas to help you craft a CV that will show employers how great you are:

  1. Learn a skill through a free online course

There are a bundle of free, exciting courses available online for you to take advantage of to learn a new skill or extend your knowledge. 

Learn-to-code websites like Codecademy have free courses on a variety of coding languages – from HTML for website design, JavaScript for app development or Python for data science, just choose the language that best suits your interests and off you go!  If you want to know how to make your presentations pop or your spreadsheets run smoother, Microsoft offers free training on its suite of programmes. For more academic pursuits, universities from around the world have contributed MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) to the edX platform which cover topics from architecture to nutrition to economics. 

Even if the courses you take don’t relate to jobs you’re applying for with your CV, by completing them you’ll demonstrate your initiative to find new learning opportunities and your interest in improving yourself – key skills that employers are always looking for!

 

  1. Start a blog

Creating a website dedicated to one of your passions is a great way to display employable skills, whilst demonstrating a real in-depth interest in a particular topic. With the abundance of easy-to-use, free website platforms such as WordPress and Wix, setting up your own website has never been more accessible. Whether you choose to tackle politics and race a la Reni Eddo-Lodge, post The Satorialist-style fashion photography, cover gaming news like Destructoid or explore the niche art of fruit and vegetable carving, a passion-project blog will give you a platform to showcase your dedication and skills to potential employers.

As with taking an online course, don’t worry if the topic of your blog has no relation to the role you’re applying for, you’ll still be able to use it to demonstrate those transferable skills such as written communication, research and computer literacy are a great addition to any CV. 

 

  1. Take a personality test

No, I’m not talking about one of Buzzfeed’s “Which Disney Princess are you?” (turns out I’m Ariel from the Little Mermaid), but a psychology-based questionnaire which will help you get a better understanding of your motivations, communication style or work personality. Not only will these offer you an opportunity to reflect on why you are like you are, but they are great for including in a personal statement section of a CV. 

Although many of these surveys cost money, there are a lot of great free ones you can access and fill in. 16 Personalities is based on the renown Myers-Briggs type personality tests favoured by many workplaces. A Enneagram Personality Test or VIA Character Strengths Survey will report on the role you play in social situations and your personality strengths (and weak spots!). Finally, Careerpilot’s Job Sector quiz will help give you an idea of what sector you might be best suited to working in.

By spending a little time reflecting on how you work, communicate and what you are motivated by, you will be able to tailor your CV to greater reflect the strengths and abilities you can bring to a role. 

 

  1. Take a trip down memory lane

When you’re still in school without much of a job history, it can be tricky to think of past experience to include on a CV. This is why I encourage students to brainstorm all the activities they have done both in and out of school. Even the things you might think are mundane can be used to demonstrate work-related skills. Were you in Scouts? Great, you can work in a team! Captain of your football team? Fantastic, you’ve got leadership skills. Part of the fundraising committee for your school dance? Brilliant, you’ve just shown you can communicate and plan to meet objectives. 

If you’re having trouble thinking of things you’ve done, ask your family or friends, as they’re the ones who might remember being dragged around to your recital/match/lessons each week. 

Making the link between your experiences and the working skills they demonstrate can be tricky, but it’s something you’ll have to do throughout your life. Universities, apprenticeships and workplaces will all require you to do this through cover letters, interviews and personal statements, so it’s definitely something to start practicing now. 

 

  1. Write your CV! This might seem like an obvious way to boost your CV, but what’s the point of doing the above activities if you haven’t got them written down to showcase your skills to employers? There are plenty of online resources to help you with writing and formatting your CV, we like these ones from BBC Bitesize and The Guardian. If you can, ask an employed family member or friend to help you out, as they probably have their own CV kicking about that you can look at (no copying!) or can check over yours before you submit it for jobs. 

So, what are you waiting for? Have a great time of making your CV the best it can be!

 

Gemma Coleman, Higher Education Liaison Officer 

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