Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Standing Out

As part of my degree course, I spend a year out in Industry doing research and completing my own projects. After this, I return to Uni for a year where I have to give a presentation and write a report on my experience. Obviously part of the terrifying preparation for this, apart from attending multiple meetings and careers events, is writing a CV.

CVs are difficult to write, especially today because there are less jobs available and hence less work experience for you to actually put on your CV. It's a vicious cycle. I spent my first year trying to compile a list of things that I could put on my CV and make me stand out from the crowd and help convey my passion for my subject. Here are my tips for students on how to write an awesome CV:
(This is kind of focussed around my CV as a science student, however you can tweak it accordingly to fit your subject if needed)

  1. An Amazing Introduction - This really needs to grab the reader's attention and show them why you want the job and why you're passionate. Simply stating that you need and job and you have good people skills isn't going to make you look amazing. You want to be remembered. Make sure your personal statement isn't too long, you need to leave room for the bulk of your CV. To write this section, I basically pretended I was writing my UCAS personal statement again and then shortened it and made it more specific to the job market rather than University. 
  2. Work Experience - If you don't have any work experience, try volunteering as it's really good to put on your CV as it shows you've taken time out of your own life to help someone else. Where relevant, try and link your work experience to skills that you may need in the position you're applying for or to the job itself. e.g. I worked at a hair salon for two years and I linked this to working with chemicals when writing my own CV.
  3. Education - When writing my CV in preparation of applying for placements, I didn't list all my GCSEs (as they sometimes tell you to at school). It wastes space and after all, they know I passed my GCSEs, I'm at Uni. Simply saying that you have grades in Maths, English and Science is enough. I did however list my A-level grades as they're a bit more recent. You can also put in Uni module grades if you have them. 
  4. Interests - I think this is quite a hard one as you don't want to make it the bulk of your CV, however you shouldn't really just put that you like 'reading' or 'going out with friends'. Try and expand on it and say what you are truly interested in. This part doesn't have to link back to the job role as it's an extension of your personality and should reflect the type of person you are.Try and make it personal (but not too personal y'know) e.g. My CV contains my own interests which I have listed as drawing, particularly hyperrealism and portraits. I also mention that I am interested in SciComm and therefore have joined ScienceGrrl, I am a STEM ambassador and I write a blog to discuss topics that interest me. 
Last-minute tips
  • Try to make your CV a representation of you and your passion, don't try to make it like everyone else's. 
  • Don't base your CV on ones you find on the internet. It's fine to look at layout, but you might be tempted to copy parts of it that maybe don't really apply to you or the kind of work you want
  • Spell check it. Otherwise it's probably a little embarrassing.
  • Keep it updated. If you do something interesting related to your subject write it down and remember it. You'll probably find that you have a lot more to write on your CV than you initially thought. 
  • Keep a good relationship with your referees and ask them before putting their details on your CV, it's a bit rude if you don't. 

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