Get fit and get your CV into shape – join a club or society and boost your CV

Did you know that getting involved with a club or society is a great opportunity for you to gain experience and develop your skills, which you can use to demonstrate to recruiters that you have what they are looking for when you apply for a job?

Whether you are going for graduate positions, work experience or part-time work, recruiters look for evidence that you have the ability to do the job. This means they will be looking out for examples of the key skills (competencies) that they require for the role on your CV/application and at interview. So whilst you’re keeping fit, you will also be giving your CV a good workout too and getting it into shape for future applications!

How, you might ask?

First of all, being part of a club or society is a great example of team working, communications skills and initiative. Running events for a club or society can demonstrate organisation and planning skills, and contributing to a newsletter or blog will prove your experience of  written communication skills.

Joining a drama group can help enhance presentation skills, communication skills, thinking on your feet, team working… and the list goes on! Most of all, it shows enthusiasm to get involved with university life outside of lectures, helping you to stand out from the crowd when applying for a job.

Further down the line, there could be an opportunity to get involved with committee roles e.g. president… this demonstrates leadership, responsibility and commitment, all of which are highly valued by employers.  These positions could also be an introduction to management skills.

Once you have had a taste at trying different things and developing new skills,  you can also think about what you have enjoyed and what you have been good at – a great way of working out what sort of jobs you might want to do when you graduate.

Head to Freshers Fair or contact the Students Union to find out what is on offer this year. If you think there is something missing, you could always start your own club or society.

Good luck and have fun!

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The Basics: CVs

What is a CV?

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a record of your experience, skills, achievements and education, and is an important document which is a crucial part of applying for a job. It’s not simply a list of everything you have ever done, but instead a way of “selling” your skills and experiences to an employer, in relation to a particular role.

CVs for most jobs in the UK should be two sides long, however there are two exceptions to this rule: if you are applying for a job in the financial sector, or for a position in the USA. Check the individual job application in these cases, but unless otherwise stated, your CV should be only one side long for these applications.

The golden rule for writing a CV is that it must be tailored to the role you are applying to, i.e. you write a new CV for each role and demonstrate how you match what an employer is looking for.

What should you include?

Personal details

  • Your full name should come at the top of your CV, preferably in bold and in a larger font than the rest of your CV.
  • Next comes your address, but try to fit this on one line if you can – space is valuable! On the next two lines include your telephone number and email You do not need to include your date of birth.
  • You do not need to write ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top, as it is clear what the document is.

Profile

  • You may wish to include a short profile (or personal statement). While this is not compulsory, it can make your CV stand out from the crowd by providing employers with a summary of your key skills. It’s also an opportunity to highlight any particularly relevant achievements or experiences you want to draw the recruiter’s attention to. Make sure that this is relevant to the role you are applying for.

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Ten skills your part-time job has given you

ssWhen it comes to writing your CV, an application form or answering questions at interview, don’t under-sell your part-time job. Working in a shop or restaurant etc. will have exposed you to situations that required you to use skills which graduate employers value. The key is knowing how to then make these relevant to the graduate job market. See our examples below. If you’d like to find out more or to get feedback on what you’ve written, visit the Careers & Enterprise Centre.

1. Customer service
Businesses are only too aware that providing excellent customer service is vital for retaining customer loyalty. Demonstrating that you know how to deliver friendly, polite and considerate service to customers will help you when you are applying for jobs after graduation. Don’t be shy to talk about times when you have gone that extra mile for a customer either.

2. Problem solving
What did you do when problems arose at your workplace? Did you decide to tackle the issues yourself, or work with colleagues? What did you learn from the experience? Being able to solve problems when they arise is a skill needed in every type of employment. Using the STAR technique (Situation Task Action Result) is particularly useful when structuring your answers to demonstrate the skill to employers.

3. Initiative
There may have been times when you used initiative in your part-time job, so why not show this off! Did you spot a way of making customer care more effective, for example, or of increasing sales in your department? Perhaps you came up with a way to motivate the rest of your team? You might think that your idea is not much to shout about, but to a potential employer it demonstrates initiative and commitment to improving your work environment.

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Student story: My QConsult experience (applications open now!)

Thinking about autumn term already? Don’t forget that QConsult starts again in September and applications are open NOW. 

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Carola (2nd from left) & her QConsult team

Carola Bigogno (2nd Year Biomedical Sciences student) took part in the spring round of QConsult, working on a project for a local housing charity. Here’s what she had to say about her experience on the programme:

Why did you get involved with QConsult?

When I found out about QConsult I was thrilled. I thought it would be a great chance to improve my skills and gain new transferable ones, to learn more about a particular job profile – consultant, which I found extremely interesting, and also give back to the community in a different, but still valuable way.  And I was definitely not wrong, the overall experience was incredible!

Did you enjoy the programme?

The best part, for me, was working together in a team: putting together ideas and opinions and using our skills to present to our client and write up the best report possible. I think that I’ve always worked pretty well in a team, however, working with other people can be extremely challenging. Luckily enough, everyone in my group was very professional. We also became friends, sharing not only the experiences of the programme but socialising together too.

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WATCH: Isabel’s QConsult Story (& apply for the autumn round)

Looking to get some work experience on your CV?

Want to do more than photocopy and make the tea?

Why not apply to the autumn round of QConsult?

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The QConsult programme involves students working in a team of 5 to conduct a research/consultancy project on behalf of a business or charity, helping to solve a real problem and working as a team to conduct research and analysis before presenting their recommendations to the client. Past projects have involved research, marketing, product development and evaluation.

To hear more about what it’s like to be on the programme, see previous QConsultant Isabel’s video below, where she tells us about her experience and gives her top tips for those thinking of applying. Read on for more details about the programme …

The programme will take place over 9 weeks in the autumn term, from 18 Sep – 17 Nov. Students work part-time and are paid London Living Wage (£9.75/hr) for 20 hours of project work, with additional training sessions on top. All undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the programme and we welcome applications from all schools.

We will also be releasing two video diaries from students who just finished the summer QConsult programme. Follow us on Twitter (@qmcareers) to catch diary updates throughout August.

To find out more about the programme and apply visit careers.qmul.ac.uk/qconsult.

Applications close at 9am on Tuesday 29th August.

The value of volunteering

There are many reasons to volunteer, like wanting to help others, keeping up a hobby, making use of spare time, meeting new people etc. Often people forget that volunteering can also be an important step to getting that desired job or place on a postgraduate course.

Volunteering can give you structured opportunities to establish, improve or maximise general workplace skills like time management, communication or more specific skills that an industry demands – see Prospects’ Job Sector information to identify some of these. Volunteering can introduce a range of scenarios that you could use as examples to help answer competency questions for job applications and is a great addition to your CV, showing an employer that you have gained valuable work experience and taken the initiative to get involved in different things outside of your studies.

Work experience through volunteering can be vital to being accepted on a postgraduate course especially if the degree is more vocational or it’s a change in career direction.  For example it is likely that an IT graduate wanting to do an Masters in Social Work would need to build up practical experience of working with vulnerable people. Volunteering can also be an information-gathering exercise to know more about the area you are hoping to study as a postgraduate.

Remember that there are some practicalities to consider before you start volunteering like commitment, location, financial support and application processes. There are many different ways to volunteer – for example, being a member of a society committee, being a course rep or helping out at your local community centre.  Here is a brief list of places to look for volunteering opportunities to start you off:

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Enhance Your Employability & Develop Your Skills in the SU Elections!

nominations_17_facebook_post3Are you looking for a role where you will have a meaningful impact? Interested in working at a multi-million pound charity and social enterprise? Then look no further than the 2017 Students’ Union elections. There are over 40 positions you can nominate yourself for including full-time paid positions (salary £24.5K per annum) and part-time voluntary positions. Elected students will have a unique experience that gives them an incredible insight into the workings of the University, Union and commercial services, boosting your CV and enhancing your employability.

Elected students set the direction of the Students’ Union, deciding on student policy and running campaigns and projects to improve the student experience. For a full list of the positions available, click here http://www.qmsu.org/elections/positions.

Becoming an elected Officer at your Students’ Union offers excellent work experience that can be applied to a number of sectors, including the Civil Service, NGOs, the voluntary sector, social enterprise and the commercial sector.

Running your own campaigns and initiatives is a fantastic way to prove your initiative, resourcefulness and creativity to a future employer. You are supported to fulfil your ideas and take responsibility for your own projects, allowing you to stand out from the crowd and develop skills which are highly desirable in today’s competitive jobs market.

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