20 things to do to make your CV stand out when you leave uni

The crisp autumn air, the leaves turning red, the smell of new pencil cases. September is a nostalgic month for many. A month of new starts. Whether you are heading off to Uni for the first time, or starting to look at what you’ll be doing when you leave, it’s never too early to think about how you can get ahead of the competition when it comes to finding a job. Here are 20 things you can do right now to boost your chances of landing that job when you leave.

  1. Work hard – make sure your grades are consistent at whatever you are studying. Often skills are transferrable, partying and poor results aren’t.
  2. Show an interest in your area. If you want a career in coding or engineering, get involved in any coding or engineering clubs or a project in your spare time.
  3. Make use of your vacations. One of the best things about university is the long vacations. Make the most of them by finding industry-sponsored opportunities to stretch your skills. There are a variety of STEM schemes offered by leading organisations aimed to reach out to undergrads and encourage new skills.
  4. Try out the job you’re hoping for. Write to an organisation or two that you would love to work for and offer your skills for free. By shadowing someone already in the role, you’ll have a realistic expectation of what’s required. You might even have the opportunity to ask some useful questions too.
  5. Attend any speaker events and differentiate yourself with carefully considered questions. You never know when businesses start scouting for new talent.
  6. Like writing? Consider setting up a blog on your chosen subject and building your reputation for knowledge in that area.
  7. Start building yourself a LinkedIn profile now. Recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates these days.
  8. Once you’ve got your LinkedIn profile all set up, add all of your work experience and ask each person you work for or with (even if it’s volunteering teaching children at a coding club) to add a testimonial to your page.
  9. Start your CV now. It may feel like you don’t have a lot to put on there yet but there’ll be more than you realise, and if you start it now, you won’t miss essential elements.
  10. Speak to the University Careers Advisor. Understand what recruiters look for and where you might fall short. Now’s a good time to find out what you’ll need if you are to land that dream job.
  11. Build your industry knowledge. Any company interviewing you for a placement scheme or for a job will be mightily impressed if you already have an industry awareness.
  12. Find out about Milk Round. The Milk Round is the annual graduate recruitment schedule. Often, for graduate jobs, companies have a time of year they start getting out and about to careers fairs. Sometimes there’s an applications window and missing it is a cardinal sin.
  13. Educate yourself on starting salaries too. There’s nothing worse than finding the image in your head doesn’t match up with what the industry offers in the real world.
  14. Get involved in broader activities. No one likes a one-trick pony. Follow other interests. At the end of the day, you’re a person being recruited to be a member of a team. You need to be able to show any potential recruiter that you’re a valuable team player.
  15. Build your network. Link to people in the industry, read articles on areas of interest, meet people at careers fairs and connect to them online. Build your network now and it’ll stand you in great stead later.
  16. Keep your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles clean. Potential employers will check up on your profile so make sure you don’t get involved in online arguments or embroiled in slanging matches with old employers as these will deter recruiters.
  17. Read broadly around the subject that you’re interested in. As well as market knowledge, read blogs, whitepapers and eBooks on the area. It’ll help you to become more aware of the key debates and issues in the industry.
  18. Create a longlist of companies to target. Sometimes it pays to be proactive and to target companies even if they aren’t looking for someone. You could be their perfect solution.
  19. Get to know your lecturers. Often lecturers come from industry and bring with them a great network of untapped resources and connections. Get known for your reliability and enthusiasm – you never know when it’ll pay off.
  20. Start a business. In this day of ecommerce and online businesses, what’s stopping you? You can do something you’re learning about and something you enjoy and even make some money on the side, whilst demonstrating your indispensable entrepreneurial flair!