By the time you get to your penultimate year at university and you see your flat mates on shorter courses filling in a dozen applications and struggling through a countless assessment centers and online tests, you realize that very soon you would be on the same boat. So in an effort to better prepare ourselves, a friend and I went to a CV Writing Workshop with the Careers Service last week.
The workshop leader gave us a ton of hints and tips but the exercise I found most helpful was where she gave us two sample CVs and asked us to analyze, with the mindset of an employer, which graduate we would pick. The average employer takes only 30 seconds to scan a CV and make a judgment on whether you are what they are looking for. So 30 seconds into the exercise she asked us to stop and think about what our decision would be at this point.
Although I had glanced briefly through both applications, I was only done reading thoroughly two sections of the first CV but I was already leaning in favour of the first applicant – simply because of the neat presentation, uniform and orderly format and a well explained section of ‘relevant skills’ for the job.
Reading further on however, I realised that the second applicant had in fact achieved higher grades, had more suitable work experience and had held more positions of responsibility (like Chairing the University Rag week as opposed to ‘organising a trip around Europe with friends’ as listed by applicant no.1). The second applicant definitely had better credentials but had undersold herself with poor presentation and a standardised bullet-point CV that did nothing to tell the employers why she was a better fit to THAT particular job.
The exercise really showed me how important it is to not just garner the experience and qualifications for the job you want but to present them in a way that highlights your skills and achievements. After all, why would someone want to watch a movie when they hated the trailer?