cv-stackBy Erica Toms

Spring has finally arrived! No more hibernation in bed or avoiding your workload, party season has (unfortunately) come to an end. Summer is approaching; bringing with it a whole host of opportunities.

Now is the time to act, spruce up your CV and get ahead of the game for Summer 2013; when you get that internship, work experience placement or full time job, you will thank yourself for it!

In the competitive job-market today, it is crucial to understand the purpose of a CV and how to apply yours to your chosen role or sector. In order to do this, you’ll need to partake in the long, tiresome and frustrating activity called research. Yes, I know. Who cares what anyone else thinks? Well when that person is about to provide you with the key to your future; be it a reference, placement or a much needed injection of cash, you probably need to know what they want. You can do it. You’ve spent the majority of your degree so far learning research skills, so use them! Make it your mission to find out everything you can about the position and company you are applying for and how you can improve your chance of winning it.

After you have found out everything possible, it is time to turn your attention to the hardest part; self-analysis. What are your skills (outside of the pub)? Do you have any interesting qualities? Hopefully. What experiences are worth mentioning? Definitely think this through. In all seriousness, evaluate yourself.

Write a list of your work-related pro’s and con’s. It’s easy to think of the negatives, but make sure you include what you’re ace at. Remove your primary school right now. Nobody is impressed that you can read and write anymore (harsh reality). Consider your self-analysis combined with your research, and organize the information under these headings: Education, Skills, Experience, Hobbies/Interests (optional) and Referees (there is a clever way out of this for those of us who are less impressionable).

EducationBegin with your most recent, which I’m guessing is our beautiful university, and continue back to your secondary school.

Skills The self-analysis I mentioned. Use essay feedback, personal statements or any comments made by tutors or employers to help assist you in this.

ExperienceIt is worth dividing this into two sub-sections depending on the role you are applying for; “Relevant Experience” and “Other Experience”. “Other Experience” for part-time jobs/full time jobs to support studying, and “Relevant Experience” for internships or work experience placements.

Hobbies/InterestsOptional, but if these relate to the job role, or pass you off as a “well-rounded individual”; then they are worth a note.

Referees – put down any employer who likes you, preferably the most recent. If you prefer, simply write “References available upon request”, but prepare for having to fulfill this request (worst case scenario).

Now for the the artsy bit. “Presentation is key”. I sound like I have just begun a very dry lecture however in this case, presentation is essential. I have watched several of my own previous employers discard CV’S that are not easy on the eye, and webcam pictures do not go down well.

To begin with, pop your name and contact details at the top (no need for marital status or date of birth).

Create a professional layout, and if you are lacking inspiration as I often do, Google search “CV template” and you will be confronted with lots of amazing websites made by people who care about this sort of stuff. Absolutely no word art, pictures or jazzy fonts which prevent actual reading. Think like a middle-aged employer who is bored of looking through CVs, may have eyestrain and wants to go home early. Make it clear, professional and make it your own.

You’ve made it to the last part, congratulations. This is the really fun bit: checking. Check everything for errors. Although tiresome, one tiny error could cost you a massive opportunity. You also don’t want to misrepresent yourself, embarrass yourself or die a bit inside when you realise you spelt a company name wrong. Get somebody else to check your CV, however much nagging that involves.

If you have followed this advice, you should now have the perfect CV for you (and I won’t be held responsible if not). There are plenty of websites that you can check for extra information, and to make sure that I haven’t lied to you. Get applying for those internships and jobs, and think big!

Here are some useful links within our own university:

www.uwe.ac.uk/careers (shows you examples)

http://myfuture.uwe.ac.uk
(this puts the CV together for you)

http://www.prospects.ac.uk/cvs. htm
(hints and tips from outsiders)

https://infohub.uwe.ac.uk/ Appointments.chpx
(the UWE Careers team are available to support you with CV feedback)