It goes without saying that the job market is incredibly competitive. High level jobs always have been, but now there are hundreds of applicants even for jobs with minimal requirements and proving yourself to be different to the others is more important than ever before.
A degree can only take you so far with employment opportunities – you need to have more to you than just education. Employers value skills outside the requirement for the job, experience and hobbies, and often rely on these factors to help them sift through the enormous pile of CVs on their desk.
Something that has always been admired is a second language. This is especially valued in retail, customer service and call centres, or in jobs with international clientele, and is incredibly handy in a medical environment too. You might have dribs and drabs of French from high school and wish to build on this, or you might choose to learn an entirely new language from scratch. There are many apps and programs available to help you do this in bitesize chunks, and many colleges also run night classes in a range of languages for all abilities.
Volunteer work is another boost to your CV as it shows off several facets to a person:
- You were willing to work for free for a good cause
- You may have done something outside of your existing skill set
- You will have worked as part of a team
- You will have learned new skills which can transfer into other areas of your life
Linking to your time as a volunteer during an interview is attractive to an employer, and by mentioning it on your CV, they are more likely to ask you about it. List some key facts about it on your CV (your role, skills you learned) but leave it a little vague to keep them wanting more.
Do you have a keen interest in cycling? Or are you an avid birdwatcher? Maybe you have a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. Mention your hobby on your CV, whether it is relevant to the role or not. From many hobbies, you learn discipline as well as demonstrating a passion for something. It is also recognised that people who have hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress because they have an outlet.
But the most vital thing you can do to boost your CV is to tailor your CV to the specific role you are applying for. Almost every job vacancy now has a Person Specification. Print it, read it, highlight it, understand it, and USE this information to make the parts of you that are relevant to the specific role stand out. NEVER just send a generic CV to lots and lots of companies. They hire and fire regularly and they absolutely know whether you’ve just sent the same waffle to everyone on your list. Focus on the specifics, and throw in a few little extra bits (as long as they are true, relevant or transferrable, and you’re willing to talk about them at interview!) if it comes naturally.