There you are, staring at a job description which is perfect for you (or at least a job that will do for now!)…you click ‘Apply’ hoping to upload your CV and get through this application quickly as the deadline is at midnight… when you suddenly remember that you never quite got around to writing that CV. Or perhaps you did, and it’s saved on a USB stick somewhere, but you cannot remember the last time you updated it…you realise you are in for a long night <<groan>>
Before you start, take a look at these 5 common pitfalls to avoid when drafting your CV.
Mistake #1: Maybe we have been thinking about CVs all wrong
Most of us see CV writing as a chore, and fall into the trap of starting from an online template, or copying a friend’s CV, without too much thought.
But what if you flipped this process around and allowed your creative juices to flow? Why not start by asking yourself the question ‘What is it that I want a prospective employer to know about me?’
One way to do this is to forget about your laptop or CV template for a moment and grab some post-its (yes actual paper!) and write down those things that you would want an employer to know about you. They might be things like
‘I studied abroad and now I find it easy to connect with people from different backgrounds’
‘I have done a variety of customer service roles and I’m really good at dealing with awkward customers’
‘I am great at…?’
Only after brainstorming what you want your CV to say about you do you then think about where these would go on your CV by sticking the post-its on different sections of a template.
Another way to do this is to ask a friend to write down things they think an employer should know about you as it’s often easier to big up your friend than it is yourself. Which leads nicely on to the next point which is…
Mistake #2: Not blowing your own trumpet
Why do some of us find it so hard to let others know about our own achievements? Whatever the reason, your CV is not the place to be shy. You got a First? Then make sure you say that in your profile. You have the SALA award from Hope? Make sure it goes on there.
If you find it uncomfortable, then use the Careers Advisers here at Hope as your ‘critical friend’. We can talk to you about what you’ve done to get a full picture of your achievements and uniqueness and then review your CV to check that you are doing yourself justice and that it truly reflects the value that you bring to an employer.
Mistake #3: So what?
I am a team player and can also work on my own.
I am a people person.
I am hardworking and quick to learn.
So what? If you have any of the above or similar statements on your CV, do they pass the ‘so what’ test? These statements have become clichéd and overused. They take up valuable space on your CV and add nothing if not backed up with evidence.
Another example of failing to pass the ‘so what’ test is mixing up responsibilities/what you did/job description with actual achievements/skills. For example, which of these following statements would come across well to a prospective employer?
A I worked as a waiter in a restaurant and delivered food to the tables and cleaned the kitchen.
B I worked as a waiter in a restaurant in a customer facing role where I dealt with members of the public in a fast-paced environment, delivering excellent customer service whilst ensuring that quality and health and safety guidelines were adhered to.
Both are true but clearly B illustrates more of the transferable skills gained.
Re-read your CV applying the ‘so what’ test after each statement. If it doesn’t pass, then rewrite or delete!
Mistake #4: Matching (alternatively known as the ‘Jedi Mind Trick’)
When you get busy or under time-pressure it is easy to just send off a standard version of your CV and hope for the best. What this means is that you miss the opportunity to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for.
The purpose of matching is not simply to engage in buzzword bingo on your CV, mindlessly throwing in the words that are in the job description. Instead, this is about making it easier for the employer (and any recruitment software they might use to screen your CV) to see that you are a match for the job, at least on paper.
Using the same job title on your CV as in the job description (if appropriate) can help, as can identifying key action words from the job description and using them in your CV.
Mistake #5: Not using the right CV format for you
Did you know there is more than one type of CV? From a chronological to a creative CV, and everything in between, it is possible to choose the format which provides the best showcase for your experience. Trying to land a job which is unrelated to your degree subject? Then maybe a skills based CV will work for you. Looking to start a career in the creative industries? A specific creative CV for your sector or even a visual CV might be the best way to showcase your portfolio.
Whichever format you choose, try to avoid the above pitfalls. You have (according to research) about 7 seconds to impress a prospective employer with your CV. How will you do it?
For help creating your CV, use Hope’s CV Builder on MyCareersCentre here https://mycareerscentre.page.link/CVbuilder Once you have a draft and would like feedback, drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Networking in its most basic form is talking to people and exchanging ideas. In a professional sense it involves meeting with specific professionals or experts for the purposes of sharing information, gaining exposure, building and maintaining future relations.
Even if you haven’t ever considered yourself part of a formal network we all have them but don’t realise! At the very least this will include family, peers and lecturers – can you think of any others that already exist within your network?
In turn, the members of your network will also have their own network. Confusing!?! When networks cross like this new relationships can be formed. Think about this like a marriage where two families join together.
“Two networks for the price of one”
Having your own network automatically gives you access to the network of others – meaning having access to people or groups to talk to and exchange ideas.
“No man is an island”
It gives you the chance to expand your knowledge and develop new ideas and in the long term equip you with a sustained presence and community.
The networks that we interact with can heavily influence our relationship with career and future employment options; how you decide on a career path; and, the approach to develop your career prospects. Varying who is in your network will provide a broader source of information and influence in both directions.
“Skills in action”
By actively engaging in networking you will be able to demonstrate and enhance a number of employability skills, such as: confidence; communicating; negotiating; using initiative; making decisions and demonstrating your commitment to professional development outside of your studies.
Ability to connect you with others Share some of your values
Promote your work or skills Willing to provide insights
Influencers within other networks Act as a critical friend
British Science Week has arrived and Liverpool Hope University is delivering a range of activities, workshops and talks throughout the coming days.
If you are anything like me the word Science can feel irrelevant at first glance, creating connotations of immaculately sterilised labs with Sheldon Cooper calling me a “puny human.” Or still having nightmares about having to memorise the periodic table for GCSE Science….aaaggghhh!
If you are still reading, I will allay fears like these and tell you why British Science Week isn’t just for students here studying so-called hard sciences or even those that belong to the Science Faculty. British Science Week is for everyone and here’s why.
A simple definition of Science is that it is the systematic study of something through observation and experimentation in an attempt to discover, prove or disprove something.
Consequently, regardless of whether you study the Arts or Biology, Social Work or Nutrition, History or Robotics the approach to learning at University is always scientific.
The events at British Science Week are an opportunity for you to explore something you may not have considered before. Being curious and acting on it is an underpinning feature of growth, development and discovery. It demonstrates open-minded thinking and is the gateway to connecting ideas across disciplines.
Curiosity has led to a variety of accidental inventions from the downright silly to life saving treatment: Play-Doh; Slinky; Cornflakes; non-stick pan; Velcro; the Internet; and, Penicillin.
A range of workshops being hosted by Mathematics, Psychology, Computer Science, Geography, Health Sciences and Sport, inter alia, on themes such as Robotics; Cryptography; Modelling wind flow; and, Sports drinks.
To see events taking place please access the link below: http://www.hope.ac.uk/media/studywithus/departments/healthscience/documents/British_Science_Week_FOR%20PRINT%20(1).pdf
Ahead of our Teaching & Education Fair on Monday 25 February let’s take a quick look at what is involved in a career in education, from why people do it to how to get started on your teaching career.
Whether you are studying your BA QTS, your PGCE/PGDE, or a non-teaching degree, if you are considering a career in education then this (and the fair!) is for you.
Why teach anyway?
Yeats wrote ‘Education is more than the filing of a pail, it is the lighting of a fire’. Indeed the desire to inspire others is often cited as the main reason for following a career in teaching.
Without inspirational teachers we might never (arguably) have had the poetry of Maya Angelou or Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’.
Other reasons given for pursuing a teaching career range from wanting to make a difference to the lives of pupils from all walks of life, to seeing that lightbulb moment in a pupil’s eyes, or for the sheer love of a particular subject.
Perhaps you have always felt you were born to teach, or your desire to teach has been a slow burn. Whatever your motivation, you need to be clear on what that is as you will need to be able to tap into that motivation as you embark on what is undoubtedly a rewarding yet challenging career.
Who do you want to teach?
The concept of lifelong leaning means that there are many opportunities to be an educator, outside of the traditional primary or secondary teacher that most people think of when they think of ‘teaching’.
You may want to help refugees settle in to the UK by teaching English and other necessary skills; to help offenders to learn valuable skills whilst in custody to help them reintegrate after their sentence; or use teaching as a way to travel and see the world. You might want to pursue a career related to educating others but don’t fancy standing in front of a class of students, such as teaching assistant, SEND coordinator, schools liaison officer in a museum…the list is endless.
Even amongst the more ‘traditional’ routes the focus can be varied. You may be drawn to teaching young people with particular needs, or drawn to an alternative style of education (e.g. Montessori, Human Scale) that aligns with your personal beliefs.
As you can see, there are many ways to be an educator to suit your interests, personality and career plan.
What is the current teaching landscape?
It would be remiss of a blog that discusses teaching to ignore the elephant in the room. Teaching is not for the faint-hearted so let’s not pretend that this is an easy job. We hear on an almost daily basis in the media about the drop out rate, with newly qualified teachers pointing to workload, Ofsted inspections and pupil behaviour as key factors in feeling compelled to leave the profession.
What is clear, is that when teachers are able to have headspace and freedom of creativity, as evidenced when Andria Zafirakou won the 2018 Global teacher Award 2018, they can provide truly inspirational and impactful educational experiences.
However it is not all doom and gloom and there are signs of progress. Job sharing and a 4 day week are being mooted as ways to alleviate some of the workload pressures, improved mentoring for new teachers is being suggested, and Oftsed is looking into its own assessment procedures.
To thrive in this profession you are going to need a good level of self-awareness to answer the following questions – how resilient are you? what environment suits you best? what type of student and teaching style will help you be the best teacher you can be?
The best way to discover the answers to these questions and more is to get as much experience in an educational setting whilst you study, whether or not you are currently studying a teaching qualification. Check out our current placements here https://mycareerscentre.page.link/Placements or contact our placements team on 0151 291 3246 who can help you with your search.
The Teaching & Education Fair gives you a chance to meet face to face with over 15 local and national teaching organisations, recruitment agencies and local authorities. You will also have access to workshops and seminars from leading industry experts. There is no need to book, just pop along to the EDEN building on Monday 25 February.
Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. As with any weapon, its impact depends on who wields it. What type of educator are you going to be?
Questions about teacher training? Why not come along to the Initial Teacher Training Q&A drop in this Wednesday 20 February at 1pm in the Employability Hub, to ask any question about teacher training.
The Teaching & Education Fair takes place on Monday 25 February in the Eden Building from 9-3.
Drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at email@example.com
The dissertation will likely be the most thorough and in-depth project you will have ever done and perhaps will ever do in the future. In a congested graduate labour market where degree subjects are very similar between universities the dissertation is one way to stand out from the crowd.
An undergraduate dissertation is essentially an extended piece of research and writing on a single subject. It is typically completed in the final year of a degree programme and the topic is chosen based on a student’s own area of interest. It allows the student to explore a narrow topic in greater depth than a traditional module. The typical length of a dissertation is between 10,000 – 12,000 words.
Carrying out the dissertation can be more than just academic research and can help develop and demonstrate skills that employers value along with the opportunity to work with professionals within your area of interest. This blog will explain some of the main benefits of carrying out the dissertation and the potential opportunities to improve your employability before graduation.
In your final year of study it’s easy to see the dissertation as a huge task to clear however you can, but this would be a mistake. Firstly, consider how you could relate your research interests to an occupation or profession or a part of their practice.
Creating an in-depth insight into the work of a particular organisation or profession can be a great way to demonstrate your skills and knowledge around the area and can provide a strong counter-argument to experience.
Meeting with professionals has two obvious benefits to your dissertation and employability.
Firstly, working alongside professionals can give you an industry-related opinion on where to take your research and potential access to participants and practices within the industry. This can only strengthen the credibility of your work.
Secondly, using any contacts made as part of your research are also introductions to you as a future professional. This is an opportunity to get an insight into a particular profession or company and particularly what qualities they would look for as a graduate entering the profession – LinkedIn can be an invaluable help with this.
This is also a great opportunity to discuss creating a mentoring relationship and/or shadowing work to help prepare yourself for graduation. An employer could also see this as an opportunity to consider recruiting you in the future.
There could be an opportunity for an interested party to use the outcomes of your research.
Lastly, this can be a way to get access to other professionals and organisations in order to create more opportunities.
Enhanced insight into the particular functioning of a profession and associated language
Planning Proposing Research methods Enhanced sourcing techniques
Using software and IT Report writing Editing Applying theory and practice
Problem-solving Using data Communications Project management
Decision-making Organisation Initiative Critical thinking
Why not come to see the Careers Team to discuss further? Drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (10.30-12.30), or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at firstname.lastname@example.org