Having attended the University of Manchester’s Computer Science Jobs Fair this year a number of students have asked for advice as an experienced Talent Acquisition Manager in a high-tech market on how to make their profiles and CV’s stand out in the sea of graduate applications. Throughout my years of working in recruitment I’ve worked with high calibre candidates of all levels from stand-out student and graduate placements to c-level executives, so I thought I’d write a quick blog that might be helpful to graduates applying or preparing to apply for their first roles.
The first thing I want to say is “Congratulations!”. You’ve successfully completed several years of intense education in a competitive market and have demonstrated the intelligence and tenacity needed to succeed. So, how do you stand out as a superstar in the making amongst your fellow graduates and career hunters?
Network, network, network: this is important on two fronts. Attending relevant events and getting to know people in your chosen industry will put you on their radar. Secondly when you add these events, seminars etc. onto your CV it shows you are a proactive networker and potential ambassador for your prospective employer. You don’t have to list all the events you attend, something like “always learning latest industry news and trends by attending tech-based networking events around Manchester” and maybe give a few examples. Websites like http://www.meetup.com are great for events in your local area.
Personal Projects / own websites / blogs: this is one of the most important things that I look out for on a graduate CV, especially on the technical / marketing side. This is your chance to show off your unique skills and what you can do to help convince me (or any Talent Manager) to pick up the phone and want to speak with you. This is even more important when you don’t have a wealth of work experience, so please, make sure you put your best work on display and be proud of it!
GitHub / Stack Overflow Accounts: this is a must for tech graduates, make sure you are active on these types of sites, have sample code on their, get involved with conversations. GitHub: https://github.com/ Stack Overflow: https://stackoverflow.com/
A picture speaks a thousand words: far too often to highly skilled graduates fail to clearly articulate their unique value because they use far too many words or dilute the impact with unnecessary buzz words / phrases. Keep your CV sharp and easy to read. Where possible, could you replace a list of bullet points with an eye pleasing timeline image, detailing your key achievements and skills learnt during your education. Or pie-charts showing how you split your time between tech-research, coding, and testing. It certainly makes it easier to read and stand out from the crowd.
LinkedIn: Your profile should always be up to date and be easily digestible, highlighting your key skills and biggest achievements. For completeness add a professional picture, and ensure there are references from respected people who have worked with you on projects, fellow students, tutors etc. Have links to your own websites, even add your CV and media to your account. Make connections to people you meet at the aforementioned networking events, connect with people at companies you’d like to work for and when you have researched what they do, contact them and reference what you have found and why you would like to find out more about life at their company.
Internships: a lot of companies are open to people interning at their companies. A number of years ago a junior android developer came to me for help, he was struggling to get his foot through the door when applying for developer roles, he had the intelligence but unfortunately no work experience. So, I put him in touch with one of my clients who saw his potential and one month after joining as an intern they offered a permanent full-time position. An internship might not lead to a job but it’s experience you can add to your CV and relationships you can build for the future.
To me, that is what makes a graduate CV stand out. Show you are passionate and proud of what you do, be proactive, and get yourself out there! Please do drop me an email if you’d like any advice around the above topic, always happy to help.