What balance of personality and experience should be included in my CV?
It is vital to be clear what the job is asking for; the application has to be related to the job itself. The employer will be looking for someone who can demonstrate the experience that they’re looking for. You should focus on your skills and extra-curricular activity – have you led a team or been involved in a society outside of your course? These aspects will convey your personality rather than trying to be quirky or different. The workplace is a giant team effort so the CV should be able to show something more about you and how you can contribute to that team.
How can I sell myself as an arts graduate?
Although arts degrees aren’t necessarily vocational, they do develop your communication, intuitive, and emotional intelligence skills – they teach you how to adapt to different environments and networks. Arts students have the ability to analyse large volumes of information and to pick out the relevant parts . The degree discipline doesn’t matter for most large companies offering graduate recruitment schemes, it’s more about your extra-curricular and how you stand out from the crowd. Graduate recruiters are aware of the skills that graduates acquire but are also looking for work experience and how they have developed their commercial awareness outside of their degrees.
How valuable are bridging jobs such as temping?
Temping shouldn’t be ignored as a possibility; it provides flexibility, experience and a decent wage. It’s important not to get too bogged down in the typical ‘graduate job’ and to try and move away from sales and retail experience that most students acquire. Try to show initiative and do something of importance within your workplace. You have to find out how the world works somehow and how the politics within the company are carried out. Don’t be scared to fulfil roles that are fixed contract or temporary either because they could lead to something more further down the line. Sometimes you have to take risks and be flexible. If you do manage to get work of this type, try and ask for something that you can work on from beginning to end, a project to develop and show how you’ve had an influence over it.
How can we acquire ‘commercial awareness’?
Commercial awareness is that understanding of how a business world works. Have you had work experience in a professional environment? You have to show that you’ve liaised with different people in different situations and have you’ve understood that experience. You need to be able to talk confidently about the business work place and to demonstrate how you could add value and revenue to that company which is essentially what they’re looking for. Demonstrate this by being prepared to show the company how it could benefit from hiring you – discuss skills, bottom line, display commercial maturity. As a potential employee you are there to improve their business. Do your research on what the company’s values are. You could always ring the company and ask them about their organisation. ‘Company’s House’ is a directory of the country’s main companies which allows you to access their annual financial statements.
How can we prepare for assessment centres?
The centres aim to see how you can work as a team – whether you talk over others, keep track of time, let other people make their points. You are competing against criteria, not each other. They could be in the form of IT assessments. It is important to present yourselves professionally and to engage in conversation with the other candidates, to make an effort to stand out from the crowd rather than let your nerves overwhelm you. Chat to assessors and the other candidates. If the thought of attending an assessment centre makes you really uncomfortable, maybe think about whether that company is right for you after all. Be selective about what you apply for; target those that interest you because it will come across in your performance. You have to be excited about the opportunity that you’re applying for.
To what extent do you use social networking to recruit people?
Companies search people’s background through the internet and social network systems such as Facebook and Twiter. Be politically aware of the image that you broadcast of yourself to the public domain. Put your privacy settings to the maximum protection or try googling yourself to check what comes up. You could use it to your advantage and use Twitter to find out about university fairs and to read companys’s updates. Perhaps look in to the corporate version of Facebook – Linkedin – this comes up high on the Google search.
How do companies view gaps of employment on CVs?
Your dates of employment while you are at university are acceptable because you are in full time education but it becomes problematic about a month after graduation. Gaps that are over a month long are questionable and you must be able to justify yourself when asked about them. There is nothing wrong with saying that while you were looking for a job you had to work at Tesco to earn a living. If you’ve done absolutely nothing, use your ‘gift of the gab’ to explain how that benefited you.
Travelling is not looked down upon as you have to look after yourself and navigate throughout different cultures. It is more a continuity of employment that employers will be interested in – you should try and stay in the jobs that you have. If you do travel, look at getting involved with a project that you can volunteer with for a month or so. It is vital to keep good tabs on your documents and pay slips in order to prove yourself when you go through the ‘pre-employment screening process’ of graduate recruitment. It is not acceptable to lie on your CV under any circumstances. Be your own PR master on your CV.