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Monday, June 24, 2013

What part of your CV matters most to employers

What part of your CV matters most to employers


Last week we ran a poll asking you ‘what part of your CV matters most to employers.’ We knew you would think work experience was important, but it’s very striking how much you believe recruiters care about it. It trumped all other elements by a substantial amount of votes. Next in line are your academic performance and your personal statement. And judging by the number of votes, these two criteria are pretty equal in importance in your opinion.


Let’s investigate this further.
The graduate recruitment market, although improving, is still highly competitive. Once you would have been well placed to land yourself job and a high-flying career simply because you had been to university. Now more is needed to even get your foot through the door.



It is no longer the case that getting a good degree is enough in itself. Work experience is vital and judging by these results many of you feel it is more important than your degree result. Research by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit into the employment of 2009 graduates highlighted work experience as key to maximising chances of getting a graduate level job after university.

-          79% of graduates who had done work experience said their job was appropriate for someone with their skills and qualifications, compared to 61% of the overall sample.

Find more details on the survey here. 

Employers also use internships as part of their recruitment process.

The 2012 AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) summer survey showed how internships are an important recruitment tool for its members. Just under four-fifths (78.5%) of employers used the same selection process for their internships as for their graduate programmes, and on average 30.4% of all placement or internship students went on to become graduate recruits.

If you missed out on doing an internship as an undergraduate, you may still be in with a chance. The survey revealed that over half (52.0%) of employers accepted applications from graduates for their internship programmes, rather than limiting placements to those who are still university students.

It is no wonder then that at the end of May we reported on another TARGETjobs poll finding that the majority of respondents would work for free if the benefits outweighed being paid. (insert link) It is all about employability: your ability to find and keep employment. This requires both good academic results and work experience. And judging by these results, you would go to great lengths to boost your employability.

The good news is that universities are full of opportunities for you to get work experience. The earlier you start the better. Joining a student society for example can provide you with great employability skills such as team working, time management and so on. Your careers service will have an extensive list of resources for you to search for work experience, and more employers than ever are offering internships and placements. In more good news, as university holidays are particularly long, especially in the summer, there is plenty of time to get some substantial work experience.

If you are searching for a particular employer to see if they offer work experience, why not check out our A-Z of employers that provide this? 

Volunteering gives similar benefits to work experience, as you will still be picking up employability skills. Volunteering also shows initiative and self-motivation, two key soft skills that boost your employability.

A part-time job, even if unrelated to the career you are interested in can also provide you with valuable employability skills. Why not find out what great CV skills you can pick up from a retail part-time job, for example?

The pressure to get work experience is growing for students and recent graduates. Employers’ expectations vary depending on the career you are trying to get into. So make sure you have done your research. Remember that what really counts is boosting your employability skills, and a traditional work experience placement or internship is not the only way to do this. Extracurricular activities, volunteering and part-time jobs are all great ways to get the skills employers want. The key to strengthening your CV is knowing where to find all available opportunities and how to identify and sell your newly acquired skills.

-          Search for work experience, internships and placement here.
-          Find out more about a range of top graduate careers.