Thursday, April 2, 2015

5 reasons your CV doesn’t matter when you’re job hunting

With at least 40 graduates chasing every job, you need to think bigger than the box and get out there as a person, not a piece of paper. The jobs & money experts at Save the Student show you how.


Fancy font? Check. PDF version? Check. Considered making an origami swan out of your CV or having it rapped by Stephen Fry to demonstrate your ‘bags of initiative/bulging contacts book’? Stop. Step away from the desperation. The fact is, you can have an all-star CV and still not get callbacks. It’s not just you. These days almost every job hunter could wallpaper an entire room with rejection letters – and that’s with a perfectly formatted, error-free CV. While we can’t magic you up an interview, we can give you a fresh perspective on your career foraging plan. 

1. People are more memorable than paper

A while ago the trend was always to call ahead before sending in a CV, or try to wangle a Q&A with an employer to get ‘career advice’. Why? Because recruiters find it easier to hang an application on a real person than a piece of paper.
Don’t think that means you can just slap a dodgy selfie on a CV and be done with it, though (some employers may even discount applications with photos, for fear of discrimination wrangles later on). Instead, think getting your face known in context of what you’re good at or would like to do.
LinkedIn (a kind of Facebook for job hunters) lets you post updates, photos and projects to your profile for free, making it an interactive CV without the hassle. You can follow key employers, get introduced to new contacts or generally learn more about your industry from the inside out.
Top tip: Join a few groups and contribute meaningfully to conversations to get noticed. You can use your ‘job title’ to help you here, for instance by describing what you do or love, or that you’re looking for work.

2. It’s (still) who, not what, you know

Just as we wouldn’t have the musical joy of Whip my Hair if Willow Smith’s dad weren’t a certain Fresh Prince, folk with connections tend to get a foot in the door faster than the rest of us.
If your dad’s not a major Hollywood player, though, there are other ways to get networked. Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game? Supposedly we’re all connected to anyone else to the planet by just six people – you just don’t know it yet. So, make sure you spread the word about your career plans, and share the job-hunting load.
If you’ve already scored an internship or volunteering gig, these are prime places to show you’re keen, reliable and looking for work. Don’t leave without getting a reference, a LinkedIn recommendation, or an introduction to the manager of another department.
Finally, while making small talk can be as pleasurable as ripping off a toenail, introducing yourself at career events and job fairs should become second nature. Being memorable is much about confidence as a creative CV: fake it till you make it.

3. Opinions open doors

If you’ve felt even a smidgeon of envy for baby-faced bloggers who get talent-spotted and shoved into million-pound book deals, there’s a trick or two you can borrow.
What these folk demonstrate is that they love what they do, and what they do can interest or inspire others. If you enjoy talking about your passions, there’s no reason you can’t have your own blog or YouTube channel. We’re not saying to pin your hopes on being discovered by ITV. We are saying getting known as an expert in your field is no bad thing.
Other ways to get a presence include writing for newspapers and magazines, or – if you’ve got the knowledge in the bank – offering yourself as an expert source to journalists: check out sites like

4. Showing beats telling

Lots of CVs just list a load of key skills lifted from the job ad, check-box style. Savvy job hunters show how they excel in them, while the really big hitters show they can already do the job – like Alec Brownstein, who nailed Google Ads to nab his dream Marketing gig.
Finding a way to show, and not just tell, your passion makes your application more memorable. If you want to get into web work that means hosting your CV on the site you built or designed. Photographers and artists can link to Flickr, DeviantArt or any other stock or portfolio site, while retail wannabes can spotlight an Etsy shop.
Again, context is key. Don’t think employers will check out your Pinterest just because you’ve got one (although they may well snoop on your Twitter or Tumblr if they later consider hiring you!). Make sure you’re showcasing the stuff that relates to the job you want, not the people you got off with.

5. Jobs don’t just happen in offices

So you really, really, really wanna be an accountant. We hear you. It’s good to know what you want to do and commit to making it happen – but is tunnel vision blinding you to other opportunities? The fact is, some industries are over-subscribed and incredibly competitive. If you’ve got your heart set on being the next Anna Wintour, or whatever, that probably doesn’t bother you. But here’s the thing: if your goals are to work for a great company, to get famous in your field or just to earn enough to be able to afford nice things, you don’t necessarily have to work for someone else to make it happen.
Whether you kick-start the next publishing revolution or just build a better burger and sell it from a mobile van, don’t discount starting your own business. Pierre Omidyar sold a broken laser pointer on his personal website: a few years down the line he was trading as eBay. The lesson is to start small, stay passionate and just see where it takes you. Good luck!

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