Over the last ten years students graduating with first-class honours degrees has risen significantly. More than one in six graduates in 2012 left with a first-class degree, a huge 16% rise from the previous year. What’s more, two thirds of all students are now graduating with an upper second-class degree.
Although the figures look impressive, it’s sparked a debate as to whether or not the university classification system is working.
So what does this mean for you? If you are a graduate or still in higher education, this rise of first-class graduates is sure to affect your employment prospects by raising the bar on those all important graduate jobs.
With a 5% dip in students enrolling at postgraduate level in 2012, it’s really a time to be thinking how you can make yourself stand out amongst the sea of top-level graduates. We’re here to look at other ways to of writing a student CV, making it stand out and push your application to the top of the pile.
University work experience is your best ticket to obtaining that job you’ve worked so hard for. If you are still in education, use your long holidays wisely. If you have a month off at Christmas, work it, if you have spare time in your Easter break, volunteer! Take any opportunity that is given to you, the more experience you get in your field of work the more impressive your CV looks.
If you’re a graduate and you’re working full time in a field completely irrelevant to your degree, it may be time to bite the bullet, apply for unpaid work and move back home with your parents. We understand that’s a hard decision to make, but if you’re unhappy in your current place of work, sacrifices have to be made to land your dream job.
The best piece of advice we can give you during your work experience placements is to be enthusiastic. It is often asked is having a placement good for you – Offer your help at any time you can and don’t for one minute stand around twiddling your thumbs. Have a positive attitude, always look presentable, show initiative and keep asking the question ‘Is there anything I can do?’
We know it can be demoralising working for free, especially if you’ve given up paid work to gain the experience, just keep your mind on your long-term goal, it will be worth it.
Another way to distinguish yourself from the other upper second-class graduates is to ensure your CV is the best it can possibly be for each job. What we mean is tailor your CV for every single job you apply for. It’s not enough to write one amazing CV listing your grades, skills and work experience and send the same document out to hundreds of employers. Read each job application carefully and understand what type of person they are looking for, then tweak your CV to ensure you come across as that person.
It’s no use writing you are an amazing radio broadcaster when you are applying for a job at a local paper. Draw on any skills you have relevant to the specific job.
The same rule applies for sending out cover letters; make every cover letter specific to each job you apply for. Before applying, research the company and use this information to your advantage and explain why you are suitable to work for them. It isn’t enough to say you want to work in the industry, mention that you want to work for that specific company and list your reasons.
If your application gives you the option to attach a cover letter or not, always do. A cover letter allows you to convince the employer that you have the qualities required for the job. Take the opportunity to make a statement about yourself, introduce the qualities you have that a CV doesn’t allow you to explain.
Keep your cover letter neat and confine it to one A4 page; you want to enhance your CV, not bore the employer. Use your own words; applications full of long worded cliché’s are often overlooked and use this opportunity to tell the employer when you are available to start work.
Once you have both your CV and cover letter perfected, ask a friend or family member to proofread before you send it. Staring at the same document for hours means simple spelling mistakes are often overlooked and this looks messy and unprofessional to employers.If you aren’t successful straight away don’t give up, keeping a positive attitude is the key to being successful. Continue to get work experience wherever possible whilst you wait for your perfect job offer, if you work hard enough it will come around eventually.
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