Mentor corner: Recommendations to students

Rebecca_LauAuthor: Rebecca Lau (QMentor)

We’ve all been that child in school who fell over in the playground – we might cry originally but after a while we pick ourselves back up and go play again. Finding a job is pretty much that case, we might get some rejections to begin with and feel very let down, but after a while we’ll move on and carry on. Before you know it, you’ll look back and realise you are no longer that child anymore.

The reason I’ve mentioned this is, looking for a job or building on your own self-confidence in general is not easy, but the drive all comes from yourself and how you proceed with the decisions you make. The struggles are real – yes, the journey is tough; but think to the future – it will only get better.

Here’s some recommendations I would suggest taking on board and that I’ve noticed a lot of my mentees found useful:

  1. Attention to detail – very basic, but I would say this is the number one element to be considerate of. You need to make sure anything you submit should be 100%. Make sure there are no spelling / grammatical mistakes, the formatting of your document(s) are consistent and that everything is literate. Consider using existing tools to help you, such as a quick ‘Spelling & Grammar’ check on Word.
  2. Read out loud – sometimes the voice you have in your head makes total sense (which is fine!), but when you read a sentence out loud it just doesn’t flow as smoothly. An employer is going to judge you solely on your CV / covering letter to begin with, so having that positive tone of voice will not only make you stand out but also demonstrate your fluency and confidence.
  3. Make yourself stand out from the crowd – there’s many ways you can make yourself stand out from the crowd when writing a CV or covering letter, but also remember to not go overboard. Demonstrate the skills you have by listing out the programmes or systems you’ve used. This is always an impressive and quick win for employers as you’re instantly telling them you are capable of using certain systems or similar systems to what they have in-house.
  4. Add some personal touches – I know some advisors will say having an ‘Interest & Hobbies’ section in your CV to be a waste of space. However, I personally find that having this brings out some personality in you. It’s also a nice conversation to have and sometimes it can relate to the role you’re applying for.
  5. Be confident – if you get to the stage of interviews. Make sure to be confident. Confident in the sense that you’re comfortable with what you’re saying and comfortable with the role you’re applying for. Essentially, if you’re comfortable with what you have to say and how you feel, it will automatically transcend into confidence.
  6. Test and learn – first stab at writing a CV or covering letter will not be perfect. I remember my first CV, and believe me it was not presentable in any way or shape; if I received a CV like that, I wouldn’t have hired me either. However, we can only test and learn in realising what the best format and wording is appropriate. How I learnt, is through the process of applying for jobs, take notice to the job descriptions that are published. Instead of reinventing the wheel, learn to pick out key points from employer’s job descriptions and adapt that to your own CV / covering letter. This way, you’re tackling the key components an employer is looking for and potentially, in another role – more!
  7. Get help – it is fine to seek for help when you need it. Whether it is a mentor, a consultant, teacher, peers, siblings or friends. Getting some help to proofread, or even to talk things through a little will help you to see things from another perspective. It is rare any one is judgmental, but instead the toughest judge of all is yourself. So getting the help from others will help – you will always learn something from speaking to others.

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