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Making your CV stand out from the competition while studying, 8 ways how

In a tough graduate job climate, it's important for students to make sure they're getting a head start

Lizzi Hart
Monday 08 February 2016 17:51

It’s 2016, meaning the competition for top graduate jobs is rife. More students are leaving university with amazing grades, from good universities and great career prospects - but how can you make sure you stand out? Here are the eight ways in which students can get ahead of the competition and boost their CVs - while studying:

1) Get a part-time job


‘Get’ obviously makes this sound easier than it is, but especially during first/second year, having a part-time job will boost your employability - and your wallet. As to where to work, consider: retail, catering, hospitality, or bar work. These jobs are usually flexible during university term-times. As a student, you’ll find it more challenging to find a ‘relevant’ part-time position, but the fact that you’re able to hold down and flourish within a job-sector you don’t plan on pursuing shows a very respectable work ethic.

2) Get involved in a society or club

Do you feel passionate about something, and want to meet like-minded people at uni? Then join a society or, even better, run for an elected position - definitely a feat for your CV, even just for the leadership experience. Being part of a society’s operations will also help to show you have active hobbies, other than ‘socialising with friends’. If you can start your own society, you’ll gain even more experience and challenges to talk about it in future graduate job interviews.

3) Improve your skills


The ‘soft’ skills every graduate job-hunter should have have already been covered, so why not get ahead of the game now? Also, rediscovering an old skill - like a language, or software package - will show your proactivity to learn outside of university requirements. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could pick up a new skill, like learning to code - a very salient skill for this year. Or if you’re already seasoned in the basics, try your hand at a newer programming language. Any proof you have of self-motivated skill improvement will look brilliant on future job applications.

4) Tutoring

Becoming a tutor is a brilliant way to a) cement your own knowledge, by having to teach someone else and b) give back to the community and potentially change lives (or at least their maths grade). Get in contact with local schools or colleges, or even your university tutors, as someone will no doubt need your expertise. Plus, your CV will be grateful.

5) Become a student rep or SU officer

To further boost your work experience, get involved in your student rep programme; have your say on how your course and course tutors could improve. It’s not a big commitment but, again, shows your proactivity as a student. And if you’re up for it, why not run for one of the elected SU positions? You’ll gain valuable contacts, experience, and you’ll get paid to hang around in your university area after you graduate.

6) Become a brand ambassador


Brands are dying to get in front of students, and becoming a BA will wield wonderful benefits, and a great deal of experience. As to how you’ll spread the word, it can vary; from promoting a playlist on social media, to handing out newspapers or flyers, or working at a freshers’ fair stand. Look into the brands you love, and potentially those that are ‘appropriate’ to your future career path, and find out more about their on-campus opportunities.

7) Volunteer

If you’ve just got a few hours spare a week, consider spending your time volunteering. It could be for a local cause, a few shifts in your local charity shop, or a steward role at a local event or festival. This type of work experience shows your commitment to helping your community, without the desire for payment.

8) Freelance


Do you have a sought-after skill, or even just some free time? You won’t believe the sort of work the public advertise online, and some of it may apply to you. Such as: copy-writing, transcribing, dog-walking, babysitting, proof-reading, putting items on eBay, typing, software/web development. See what’s out there, and you might be able to make some money, as well as add it to your CV. Even if it’s not relevant to your future job-sector, you can boast about your go-getter approach, and desire to help others - even if it is just for the cash (we won’t tell, promise).

Lizzi Hart is a marketing assistant at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau

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