Produced by Jasmine Cattigan
LLB (Hons) Law
Rewind four months and I’ve just started my second year of Uni. One of my first lectures was titled: ‘Careers and Placement Lecture’. It was literally my first day of the new academic year and after just about recovering from first year, I was now having to think about my third year. Cue instant fear. We were introduced to the team and the services BU offer to help us with finding a placement. Little did I know just how important these people and services were going to be for me!
Fast forward two months and placement deadlines were approaching. Had I written my professional CV? No. Had I even looked at placements? No. Did I know what kind of placement I would want to apply for? You guessed it, no. I was unorganised and slightly stressed to say the least.
First thing was first: I had to write my CV. If you’re anything like me, then the very words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ trigger a feeling of internal dread. Even worse than the phrase itself is attempting to write one- and a good one at that. I knew that my professional CV had to be flawless as this is the first thing potential employers will see that represents you -so making a good impression is vital. An interesting point, courtesy of my BU careers advisor, is that employers read hundreds of CVs which they then have to whittle down to, at most, 10 candidates. How do they do this? The tiniest error, whether that be spelling a single word wrong or making the classic mistake of inserting an apostrophe in ‘GCSEs’ will send your CV straight into the ‘nope’ pile.
What skills do I have? Do I even have any Skills? Oh my god I have no skills; were basically my first thoughts when attempting to write my CV. To make sure I actually wrote it properly, I sought advice from my BU careers advisor. After our appointment, I felt much more confident in what I had to do. With every draft I wrote, my careers advisor would discuss it with me and suggest improvements until I produced the perfect one; and it seems to have worked as I have already attained both placement interviews with it!
The advice given by the Careers and Employability Service is really fantastic and any query I had (and I had many!) was always responded to in the most helpful way. As well as this, my careers advisor helped me in choosing which placements I should look into and which are best suited to me in terms of future career aspects and location. This led me to discovering my dream placement on their dedicated website ‘MyCareersHub’ which I am currently applying to now!
In the meantime, I will be making the most of this fantastic team by utilising their mock interview service in preparation for an upcoming interview! Wish me luck!
I’m a final year (Law) student at BU. After finishing my placement, I was asked to go back on a part time basis around my studies. As part of this I do extensive work with the HR department and virtually run the recruitment of Placement Students; a task I also undertook last year. We typically recruit between 5-10 placement students each year across an array of disciplines, and average around 20 applications per position.
I fully appreciate that more household names will receive considerably more than this, so I can only speak with regard to medium sized companies. (We are global with thousands of employees, but not a household name like IBM or E-ON etc.)
What I would say for companies like this though is that the idea of CVs being cast aside due to such minor errors is a little extreme. Having participated in CV reviews with the managers whom ultimately decide who to invite, I can safely say; content and presentation of such are our deciding factors.
The first thing I would note regarding presentation is that 90% of CVs look exactly the same, with exception to the font, occasional line break and even colour change. They even tend to follow the same layout: Education – Employment/Experience – Extra Curricular. When your reading 20 duplicates, the only difference being the previous job titles and grades, it gets very monotonous.
Of course take this with a pinch of salt, depending on your discipline, but different really is better. The ability to draft a document that looks good whilst maintaining quality content shows personality, not to mention computer literacy.
Of the hundreds of CVs I have received, the best by far, and the one which grabbed the manager’s attention most belonged to a Software student. With a layout reminiscent of a well designed web page, a professional two-colour scheme and a composition that wasn’t just a vertical list of accolades; it was sat proudly at the top of the pile. Granted the content played a large part in why he was offered the job, but his presentation is what earned such consideration.
The other point I would make is to be concise with your content. Filling the white space is important, but it needs to be relevant. Put more detail into the skills you acquired as oppose to the work you were doing; few people care that you were required to handle customer enquiries on a day to day basis; they do care that in doing so you utilized your excellent verbal communication and problem solving skills. Try to keep it relevant to the role too; bottom line: employers want to know that you are right, not just for any job, but for this one.
Final point: don’t underplay the football team you played for when you were 15 or the Skiing you do once a year: personal achievements and interests give you personality, and personality makes you fun to work with.