Tag Archives: Applications

What’s your USP? – Marketing Yourself with Applications

If all products were the same, how would we choose between them?

A unique selling point – USP – is the attribute that makes a product different from and more attractive than its competitors.

Just as big brands need to hook buyers in with their USPs, job applicants need to find ways to catch the eye of recruiters. So, when applying for jobs, this means showing employers what makes you different, ensuring you stand out from the crowd.

Job descriptions and person specifications outline the skills and qualifications required of an ideal candidate, and in some cases additional ‘desirable’ qualities. However, the jobs market is a competitive place, and many applicants will meet the essential criteria, i.e. many people will be equally qualified to do the job.

This can make the shortlisting process quite difficult – between equally competent candidates, who should get the job? Therefore, as an applicant, you need to be able to offer something extra to differentiate yourself from the others and break that tie. You are aiming to tick all the essential boxes and offer additional benefits too!

Added benefits – USPs

If you think of your application as a marketing exercise, you are essentially promoting your individual benefits to employers and matching those benefits to their needs.

To do this you’ll need to identify your key strengths, experiences and achievements. What do you feel proud of? You are probably more interesting than you may think! Highlight what makes you different and describe the benefits that you can bring to the organisation. Consider all the wider experiences you can draw upon that, in combination, are unique to you.

You will then be able to present yourself as a full and varied package of skills and accomplishments that not only meets the job criteria, but exceeds them.

Of course, you can’t do this if you haven’t sought out opportunities to develop your skills and experience – so now may be the time to find out what you can get involved with to enhance your portfolio of skills.

What might these added benefits or USPs include? Here are just a few examples:

  • Relevant work experience or shadowing in a similar role
  • Further professional or academic study/qualifications
  • Volunteering experience which has developed transferable skills
  • Evidence of achieving personal challenges or goals
  • Commercial awareness – market sector understanding
  • Holding positions of responsibility – e.g. society secretary, course rep
  • Sponsorship or awards in recognition of effort or achievement
  • Engagement with social action or community projects
  • Charity fundraising
  • Evidence of a commitment to a long-held interest
  • Resilience – overcoming personal challenges or extenuating circumstances


The way in which you communicate your skills needs to be confident. Employers are looking for self-assurance (though not arrogance), because they want to be reassured that you have seriously considered the role before applying and know that it is “for you”. You should also look at our list of ACTION words and phrases and incorporate some of this strong, skills-based language into your applications to describe how you have made a positive impact in the past.

Focus on your specific contributions, and don’t be afraid to use technical terms. Using the correct terminology or key phrases will also highlight your market sector understanding and show that you’ve done your research.


Use simple techniques on your applications to highlight the most relevant information by using bold, italic, headings, sub-headings and bullet points. On a CV, you could use columns, boxes or tables to draw the eye towards your most relevant key skills or qualifications. Be careful not to ‘over design’ though. Consider what’s most appropriate for the industry you are applying to.

If it’s a more traditional environment, keep your presentation professional, simple and direct. If you are applying to a more creative industry, you might go a little bit further with your design skills to demonstrate flair.

Either way though, always ask yourself if your application is easy to read? Is it structured and presented in a way that will help the employer to find the most relevant information about you? Employers don’t have much time to look at each CV they receive, so you really need to make the important parts stand out quickly and easily for the reader.

Passion & Personality

Finally, your enthusiasm for any role needs to be clear. Evidence of a genuine interest or passion for the industry and organisation will impress recruiters and reassure them that you’re serious about sticking around in the role. Enthusiasm that demonstrates your motivation and suitability and gives your application an extra shine that employers are eager to see. If you can show this, alongside a thirst to learn, you will be a more attractive candidate. Ultimately, employers will always choose an enthusiastic, self-motivated applicant over a well-qualified but disinterested one. It can be more than a tie-breaker.

Jargon Buster

The terms employers use to talk about their organisation and/or their recruitment process can be confusing. Get prepared for the autumn term employer events and your job applications with our jargon-buster.


Magic circle – Nothing to do with Harry Potter. This is the term sometimes used to describe the top 5 law firms in the UK: Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter & May.

Silver circle Similar to the above, a group of top law firms that do not quite rank alongside the magic circle: Herbert Smith Freehills, Ashurst, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith.

The big 4 – These are the 4 largest professional services networks in the world: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG. They offer audit, assurance, taxation, management consulting, advisory, actuarial, corporate finance and legal services.

SMEs – Small or medium-sized enterprises. In the European Union, these are defined as organisations that employ fewer than 250 employees and have an annual turnover of no more than 50 million euros.

Work Experience

Vacation scheme – This is not a holiday! A period of work experience with a law firm, usually running for 1 or 2 weeks.

Internship – These are often paid placements offered by firms who regularly recruit graduates. Most often in the summer, but there are also part-time, term-time and vacation opportunities.

Job Descriptions and Applications

Hidden jobs market – This is a term often used to describe jobs that aren’t advertised. You can tap into this by networking, making use of contacts and writing speculative applications.

Entry level job – A role that requires little prior experience in the field or profession.

Referees – These are the contacts (usually two) you put on CVs or application forms who can be contacted by an employer to verify the information you have provided or to give insight into your personality. The referee should know you well enough to be able to write positively about you.

Transferrable skills – Also known as ‘soft skills’ or ‘portable skills’, these are skills used in one job or career that can also be used in another, rather than relying on direct experience of the industry. For example, leadership, organisation and communication skills.

DOE – Think it’s a female deer? Think again! Abbreviation for ‘dependent on experience’. An employer will offer a salary within a given range but is willing to pay more for a candidate with more experience.

OTE – Abbreviation for on-target earnings. This is an estimate of actual earnings where pay is made up of both base salary and a variable bonus/commission. Particularly found in job descriptions for sales roles.

Graduate scheme – A structured programme for recent graduates that includes work and training. It can last up to 3 years, though some are much shorter. Completing the scheme successfully often secures a professional qualification as well as a permanent role in the organisation.

Selection Process

Psychometric test – Any activity and assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate candidate performance, including intelligence, skills and personality.

Assessment centre – Usually a day or half day at an employer’s office or training venue involving a combination of tasks and activities to find the right candidates. Involves working in groups and includes a variety of exercises such as role play, in-tray exercises and presentations.

Competency-based interview – This is an interview where situational or behavioural questions are asked. They aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges.

Strengths-based interview – Type of interview style becoming increasingly popular amongst graduate recruiters. It aims to find out what you enjoy doing and hence what engages you the most.

If you would like more information about some of these terms or support with finding and applying for opportunities, visit the careers service website or contact us directly.

4 Top Tips for Landing Your Dream Job (and why I should know…)

Landing your dream job can feel like the stuff of fantasy, but it doesn’t have to if you take the right approach.

As an ex-lawyer turned career coach with experience in property, PR, teaching and copywriting, I know all too well how important finding the right job is and the frustrations of being in a role which doesn’t quite fit.

I also know how much you’ve invested in your studies, the time you spend thinking about your career and that fulfilment can hinge on more than a pay cheque.

So here are my top tips for securing a job which ticks all the boxes:

  1. Know Your Values

Knowing who you are and what you want is essential to positive change. Before considering what kind of company or organization you’d like to work for, ask yourself what gives your life purpose and meaning, in and outside work. Your values might range from money, work-life balance and family to meeting new people, travel or having fun.

If you’re unsure what drives you, ask yourself what you couldn’t do without in a dream day, what you’re doing when you’re happiest or what you’d love to be paid for. If you’re still struggling, ask yourself what you really dislike and turn this on its head. For example, if it’s working long hours with little time to socialize, it may be that work-life balance is top of your list.

Once you know what drives you, focus on organizations which meet these needs and maximize your chances of fulfilment.

  1. Harness Your Strengths In Your Search

If you’ve got into the University of Bristol, chances are you’ve got strong analytical and critical thinking skills – the perfect combination for identifying your dream job! The most fulfilled people are resourceful in harnessing their strengths, helping them narrow down their ideal workplace, prepare for interview and seal the deal.

If you’re struggling to find the time or perspective to research what kind of organization appeals, reach out to one of our career advisors. They’ll help you move from where you are now to where you want to be. Our applications advisor will also have top tips for how to craft a winning CV, covering letter or application form.

  1. Prepare For Interview

Whether you’re a rising star or a Mensa child, intellectual skill and charm are no substitute for interview preparation. The most common pitfalls are being unable to communicate what an organization does, why this appeals and how your experience and skillset set you apart.

Avoid this by thoroughly reading the organization’s website, articles published by key stakeholders and talking to any contacts you may have. Then identify questions you could be asked and practise your answers with a trusted friend or one of our careers advisors. Ensure you tailor your answers to the skills and experience required in the job and person specification. And if you’re asked a competency based question (tell me a time when…), structure your answer around the STAR acronym – check out this handy video for tips.

Finally, be sure to show-off commercial awareness by reading up on market and organizational developments.

  1. Trust Your Instincts

You can read all you want around the firm but there’s no substitute for face to face gut feeling. If you have a good gut feeling, trust it. If not, ask yourself which of your core values aren’t being met and if this is a deal-breaker. Good luck!


Using the Careers Service – a graduate’s perspective

Here at the Careers Service we not only help all manner of students from all manner of backgrounds, through all stages of their career planning and development, but continue to support our graduates for up to three years after they’ve graduated! Natalie, a recent Law graduate, has shared her experience of using the Careers Service, and explains how we were able to help her:

I discovered the Careers Service during the first year of my LLB Law degree, as it was next to my accommodation at the Hawthorns. I used the Service in my first and second years by attending events and seminars as part of the Bristol PLUS Award, which was great for building skills, and later put on my CV.

During my third year I lived at home in London, so didn’t have the time to continue this level of engagement – I did, however, book a twenty minute appointment (conveniently on the day) with an adviser to discuss whether my plans and the steps I had taken to become a lawyer were sufficient and appropriate. This was a unique opportunity to get an opinion not only from an impartial third party (which I had not had before), but from an expert. The kindness and genuine interest shown for my concerns and questions was really reassuring, and exactly what I needed during my stressful final exams!

After University I learnt that the Careers Service is available to students for up to three years after graduating. Seeing as I was slow to begin the next steps to my future career (waiting around one year after graduation), it was again reassuring to know that this support was available. After a few months of travelling I decided to knuckle down. The first thing to consider was my CV, which I had not looked at since secondary school! The next day therefore I went into the Careers Service to have a browse through their available resources. It was great to have access to such a wide variety of up-to-date books, magazines, and newsletters dedicated not only to the art of CV writing, but also to developing interview skills, and finding out about particular sectors and industries.

Additionally, having computers available for use by graduates and undergraduates at 5 Tyndall Avenue was helpful – I often used these to look at the CV page of the Careers website, which provided plenty of useful examples, as well as top tips written in clear, plain English.

The Careers Service also offers accessible workshops and seminars. All of the advisers are especially welcoming, and provide useful advice, offering the opportunity for questions both during and after their events. Attending the CV-writing seminar, for example, bolstered what I had already learnt from the website.

The final step in composing my CV was to attend a drop-in session – a 10-minute appointment bookable at 8am on the day, during which an adviser will look over your CV, cover letter, or application form. This meeting was particularly insightful as the appointment was one-on-one, and the adviser provided honest advice and helpful suggestions, such as the use of ‘action words’ to make my CV more engaging.

For me, the entirety of the Careers Service has proven invaluable, helping me each step along the way. From the days when I didn’t even have a CV in hand, I am now able write this blog having just been given my first ever interview for a vacation scheme with one of the Top 100 Law Firms in the UK…!

So – if you’ve recently graduated from Bristol, and are looking for advice or guidance with any aspect of your career we can help. For more information visit our Graduate page today!

Ten Tips to make the most of your Christmas Holidays!

Now that the end of term is approaching and the holiday season will soon be upon us, have you considered how you might spend the break from University? If you want to make the most of the time, this can be a good opportunity to continue your Careers and Employability journey.

Have a look at our top 10 tips to help you maximise the break from University….

  1. Know yourself – choosing what to do after you leave University is a process that takes time and requires self-investigation, self-reflection and focus. If you’re really not sure where to start spend some time doing some homework on you! Ask yourself questions like: What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What motivates you and how does this fit with your beliefs and values? You may want to chat to friends and family about what they think your skills and strengths are, you may be surprised! There are lots of tools to help you start career planning including the Windmills Career and Life Management resource.
  2. Do some research – investigate the career options that are open to graduates from your degree using the Prospects ‘options with your subject’ Also take a look at the Careers Network to see what Bristol graduates from a range of courses have gone on to do.
  3. Volunteer and boost your transferable skills – December can be a busy time for the voluntary sector with lots of opportunities available, ranging from Charity shops to homeless shelters and residential homes for the elderly. Have a look at Do-It to see what opportunities exist.
  4. Earn some money – part-time work at this time year can be a great way to help you spread some festive cheer and also help you to enhance the skills that all employers value; for example working in a team and communication skills. Lots of companies require an extra pair of hands at this time of year. The Careers Service has information on how you can find part-time work.
  5. Keen to find out more about an area of work that interests you? Contact local employers to see if you would be able to do a day work-shadowing to gain an insight into their organisation and sector. There are employer databases on the Careers Service website to help your research into organisations.
  6. Personal Skills audit – look at graduate job opportunities in a field that interests you and list the skills employers are looking for, then audit yourself against these skills. Once you have identified any gaps, start to plan how you can fill them.
  7. Re-visit your CV – make sure your CV stands out. For more help on CVs look at the Careers Services resources on applications and Prospect’s resources. Maybe one of your parents or family friends would read through your CV for you!
  8. Develop your Social Media presence – LinkedIn is becoming an increasingly popular tool used by recruiters, so it’s important to have an effective profile. LinkedIn publish lots of useful resources for students and some fun clips.
  9. Apply for a summer internship – relevant work experience can be a great way to ‘test-drive’ if a career-path is right for you and help you explore your career options. The UoB Internship Scheme is aimed at Small and Medium size Enterprises in the UK, including charities, social enterprises and Non-Governmental Organisations. There are also opportunities available through the Careers Service website and sector-specific websites like Gradcracker for Science, Technology & Engineering students.
  10. Relax – Don’t forget to enjoy your break from University!

The Careers Service website has lots more support and information.

How to sell your skills and experiences to potential employers. It’s not as difficult as you think!

Spent this year working part-time in Burger King, and wondering why graduate recruiters would be interested in your application? However irrelevant you think your experience might sound, you might be surprised to discover that for a number of graduate and entry level positions, recruiters are more interested in identifying potential. Yes, it’s true that some jobs require specialist knowledge that only specific work experience or a degree can provide. However, at this stage in your career, transferrable skills can play a big part in how employable you are: the key is to make them sound relevant to the job you’re applying for.

So what are transferrable skills?
Transferrable skills refer to the competencies you gain in one particular setting, which you can carry over into other areas of your life. They particularly come in handy when you’re starting your career and don’t have directly relevant experience of working in a specific sector or a similar position before.

There are a number of core skills that most employers are after. Here are a few examples:

  • self-management,
  • communication,
  • problem solving,
  • team working.

When putting your application together think closely about the skills you’ve developed and the experiences you’ve had and how an employer might view them. Remember to provide specific examples of where these skills were gained. Doing this will make you more memorable to employers and will stop your application from sounding too generic.

How do I gain them?
The good news is you will already have some!  Skills are picked up throughout your life: through education, work experience, extra-curricular projects or volunteering. If you’ve worked in a bar or in retail then you will have had experience of providing customer service. Being friendly and approachable and solving customer problems effectively are key skills relevant to all employers. Also being punctual, reliable and trustworthy demonstrates good self-management – these skills will be an attractive prospect for any potential employer.

Alternatively if you’ve ever been involved in a group project at university, or if you play sport, then you’ve worked as a team. This is an opportunity for you to tell employers about how you can recognise and understand the viewpoints of others, appreciate the contributions made by all, and how you have built strong interpersonal skills. Furthermore if you ever had to settle disputes or disagreements while working with a group of people, this would show employers that you possess the ability to problem solve.

Help, I don’t think I have any transferrable skills!
If you feel that you lack some key skills, there is still plenty of time to gain them. Being at university is a great chance to build upon your talents. If you want to improve your communication for example, there are a variety of societies you can join which will help you with this, such as debating societies, drama groups or even the magic society. Additionally you can develop your communication skills by delivering presentations as part of your course. By getting involved in this type of activity, you will be able to demonstrate to employers that you can adopt your style to suit different audiences, and that you are able to speak publicly while overcoming nerves.

The important thing to remember is- you should not be discouraged from applying to something just because you haven’t been in a similar role before. Recruiters look for potential. They want someone who has the right aptitude for the role. So if you can show in your job application or at an interview that you have previously used the skills that they’re after, that you have enthusiasm and the ability to absorb new knowledge, then you will have a great chance of being considered.

Pagan Aspinall, Graduate Intern

Using Video Resources at the Careers Service

The videos provided by the Careers Service are not a resource to be ignored – hearing from graduate recruiters themselves about what they are looking for in graduates is valuable information. The videos are split into several easy to understand sections; CVs & Cover Letters, Interview Techniques, Assessment Centre Advice, Job Hunting, Self-Employment, & more! Each video focuses on a specific aspect of employment, like ‘How to write Work Experience on a CV’, and features testimonials from the people who see hundreds of CVs and Cover Letters everyday – this is the information YOU need to know to land that dream graduate job!


In currently trying to land my dream graduate job and facing the prospect of scary assessment centres, I found the videos explaining what tasks and activities I should expect to happen at an assessment centre particularly useful. Assessment centres can vary widely in terms of what tasks they ask you to complete, from presentations and straightforward group tasks, to trying to convince others what celebrities to put in a hot air balloon! When tasks can be as strange as this it is important to understand what key skills employers are looking for: prioritisation, confidence, communication skills, listening skills, persuasion etc. Assessment centres aren’t just about how you compare against others, succeeding in the task is not always about being correct, it is about demonstrating your skills.

Another important tip I learnt from the videos is that you are being assessed outside of the assessment tasks too – from the moment you enter the centre to the moment you step out of the door to go home, your behaviour and how you communicate with others is being carefully analysed, even during coffee breaks! Make sure you have an in depth knowledge of the organisation, as well as their partners and competitors – having commercial awareness will help you stand out over other candidates.

I definitely feel more confident and prepared for my upcoming assessment centre now that I’ve received this advice from employers themselves. Whatever aspect of employment you’re struggling with, I recommend using the greatly informative videos provided by University of Bristol Careers Services.


Madeleine Dwyer, 3rd year Psychology student 

Ready for your close-up? Video interviews, your chance to shine on the small screen.

Does the idea of a video interview fill you with dread or are you secretly excited by the prospect? However you feel, they are becoming increasingly more popular with graduate recruiters. Don’t panic they’re not looking for the next movie star – actually they are just saving themselves some effort!

So what is a video interview?

A video interview is an interview that you record and send to the recruiter to view at a later date.

So why are video interviews so popular with graduate recruiters?

Time efficiency:  Trust me, having been a graduate recruiter, attempting to organise a phone interview in just two people’s diaries can be a nightmare, times this by 30 or 40 potential candidates for just a handful of positions and it adds up to several days’ worth of back and forth rescheduling. Video interviews do away with this. Recruiters set up one interview, send it to an unlimited number of candidates and give them a deadline to complete. You get to conduct the interview when it suits you and the interviewer can watch them at a convenient time for them.

Personality: Recruiters can’t read a candidate at the end of a phone, but on screen body language and personality come across. So make sure you are engaging and remember to smile.

Consistency: Every phone interview is essentially a different conversation, in comparison a video interviewer asks all the questions in exactly the same way to all candidates. This means that there is a more balanced evaluation of all candidates via this method, so it works in your favour.

Review and sharing: It’s easy with this format for recruiters to take a second look or share your interview with others if they want a second opinion. This is really helpful for them, so they are not just relying on their notes.

However remember, once the interview starts you can’t rewind or review your answers – it’s exactly the same as a face to face interview, without the interaction. So here are some tips to help you get it right first time:

Top Tips

  1. Check your background, take down the posters, remove that 3 day old mug and pick a room with clear bright lighting.
  2. Silence the house, warn your flatmates, silence your phone and close the door.
  3. Look presentable, just because you are in your bedroom this is not an excuse for PJs.
  4. Look into the camera, not the screen to ensure you are making eye contact.
  5. Timing: there may be a delay in the questions so make sure the ‘interviewer’ is completely finished before responding to avoid talking over them.
  6. Practice: see how you come across on video, do you fidget or wave your hands around, try to limit distracting gestures.
  7. Like a scout: be prepared. Are you using a laptop, is it plugged in with enough power, test every aspect of the equipment.
  8. Clean the camera lens, the slightest smudge can be very distracting for the interviewer.
  9. Sit still, be aware that the microphone picks up all the noise in the room so don’t tap your pen or shuffle papers.
  10. Have notes in bullet format to prompt you and place them at eye level, so you are not constantly looking down or reading from them.

As always the Careers Service is here to answer any questions or help you to prepare for your interviews so get in touch if you need more help or advice.

Good Luck!

Claire Wrixon, Careers Adviser

How to write a winning statement for postgraduate study


This post is intended to help you get that all-important personal statement right when applying for Masters programmes and other postgraduate courses.  To make sure you get the appropriate tone and content, you need to think about your application from the perspective of the admissions tutor.  I see a lot of statements written in the style of academic essays, offering lengthy thoughts on key concepts in the field, but this isn’t what is required.  The tone and points you make should resemble a job application more than academic arguments.  Here are my tips for keeping your statement in the ‘yes’ pile.

  • First, I’m assuming that you have done your homework and thoroughly researched the course.  Does the teaching style suit you?  What jobs do graduates of the programme go on to do? Have you talked to potential future employers to find out if you need to do the course, or are you satisfied that you want to do it for your own development? Can you fund the course and your maintenance costs throughout?  If you haven’t thought these questions through, then visit our Postgraduate Study pages for advice.  It is also a good idea to telephone or email the course admissions tutor if you have any questions before applying.
  • Now, structure your statement around the following points to make sure you’re including what the admissions tutor wants to see:
  • An introduction that gets straight to the point

Be clear and direct at the beginning of the statement, and don’t waste time discussing the ins and outs of academic debates within the subject of the course.  Go straight in with why you are applying for the programme and get their attention.  It’s ok to personalise this as genuine motivations will really stand out over those applications where people are applying for courses without having thought it through, or just can’t think of what else to do.  Mentioning an inspirational person you met or a life experience that got you interested in this area can grab the reader’s attention straight away.  For graduate medicine, for example, many students have experienced life-changing events that led them to choose to become a doctor.

  • Do you have the academic capability to complete the course successfully?

You need to provide specific evidence here of the skills and knowledge you have gained during your undergraduate studies that will provide a good foundation for a postgraduate programme.  Provide clear examples of when you developed specific skills, such as managing your dissertation, learning about team work in a group project, or improving your problem solving abilities, using the STAR framework to capture what you learned.  Highlight units that you studied that are relevant to this new programme and how they will provide you with useful foundations.  If you are applying for a programme that is quite different from your undergraduate subject, then you will need to spell out how your skills and learning are transferable to this new discipline.  Don’t assume that the tutor knows what you have to offer; they need to see that you can articulate this clearly to them, rather like making a sales pitch.

  • Why have you chosen this particular programme at this particular place?

Just as if you were applying for a job, you must show that you have researched both the institution and the department offering the course and be clear about why you have chosen them.  Are there particular specialists you are looking forward to working with?  Why does the teaching style appeal to you?  Are there individual units that attract you?  If you are applying for a course at your current undergraduate institution, you still have to do this!  Be clear about why you want to stay, as it is by no means given that you will get a place on a Masters just because you’re already studying in the same place, especially if it’s a popular programme.

  • What are your future plans? What will this course lead to?

The admissions tutor will want to see clear evidence that this course is going to help you get further towards the career you have in mind, as this means you are more likely to be motivated during your studies and complete the course.  It’s ok to have more than one job option in mind when you apply and it’s also perfectly fine to change your mind later, but it helps if you can demonstrate a goal towards which you will be working by completing this programme of study.

  • What else do you do that could have given you relevant skills?

It’s important to leave space for a paragraph that talks about your co-curricular interests and activities, as many of these can provide valuable skills and experience you can bring to a postgraduate programme.  Any client-facing experience from shop, café or event work can provide the essential people skills needed for teaching, social work or legal training, for example, so it’s important that you explain specific occasions when you enhanced these skills, again using the STAR framework.

So, when completing a postgraduate statement, it’s important to keep in mind the perspective of the admissions tutor and their requirements.  That way, you’ll hit the right target and stand a better chance of getting that place.  If you need some more inspiration, you can:

Good luck!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

(Image: http://www.postgrad.com)

The beauty of your CV is in the eye of the beholder

Curriculum Vitae

We see a lot of students at the Careers Service asking how to produce the ‘perfect’ CV, but the truth is that there is no such thing! How you should present your CV and the information you choose to include will be determined by the industry to which you are applying, the specific role you have chosen, and by how you want to present yourself on the page. A colourful and ‘creative’ CV will not be welcomed in investment banking, whereas you could well be expected to produce something unusual and eye-catching if you want to work in advertising.

We have run many exercises where we ask students to play the part of a recruiter and assess a range of CVs for a particular role, and these tasks always highlight how CVs are subject to our personal preferences; the opinions on what makes a great CV differ wildly between individuals as much as between employment sectors. It is possible for a particular CV to attract one recruiter and completely repel another.

A good example of this variation came up earlier this week when a group of second-year Computer Science students taking our Career Management Skills Unit presented their own research in how CV layouts are perceived. After sending six sample CVs to various engineering and IT employers, it was clear that the recruiters in the personnel division of the companies favoured a more traditional CV, whereas the engineers with whom the applicants would actually be working preferred a much more personalised CV, so that they could get a sense of how that individual might fit into their team.

So, how can you produce a CV that is the best possible match for the organisation to which you are applying?

Do your research! It’s crucial to talk to people in the industry that interests you to find out what they expect to see in applicants’ CVs. Don’t just assume that you know what they want. Use Careers Fairs to meet recruiters as well as our Careers Network to get you started with contacts. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter are also great places to ask industry experts for advice.

Target your CV. Make sure that the skills you are showcasing match those that your intended employer is looking for.

Get some feedback. Don’t just send in your CV and keep your fingers crossed! Come into the Careers Service and ask if an adviser can look over your efforts. We can help you to target your CV appropriately as well as highlight what you have to offer.

Have a look at our CV examples to get you started. We have a CV booklet that you can download from our web site containing different styles of CVs to give you some inspiration. It’s also worth getting onto Google and seeing what’s out there; sites such as Slideshare can offer examples using tools such as Powerpoint to create more colourful and interactive CVs, if that’s what you need.

Finally, remember that your CV should be your best representation of what you have to offer, so the person who needs to be the most satisfied with your CV is you!

Dr Tracy Johnson, Careers Adviser

(Image from www.writersandartists.co.uk)