Getting a job when you finish college isn’t the easiest thing to do. In fact, you’ll probably find that most graduate jobs will expect a certain amount of experience before you’re even considered for the role, which might seem a bit contradictory but that’s the way it is these days.
Fortunately, there are numerous activities that you can do to make your CV stand out and demonstrate that you have the skills that employers are looking for. We’ve put together a list of our favourites so that you can pick which ones suit you best – you never know, you might find one or two that you even enjoy.
1. Part-Time Work
Although securing part-time work takes effort, it’s one of the most beneficial activities for both you and your CV. While you’re earning yourself a few extra euros, you’ll also be learning essential skills that will help you out when you start your career. Most part-time roles will require you to work as a team, manage your time and communicate with others – all of which will be welcome additions to your CV.
Some customer-facing roles call for an ability to work under pressure, deal with difficult situations and handle cash, proving that you’ll be a reliable and trustworthy member of staff.
Charities such as Oxfam are always on the lookout for volunteers, which means your next CV-enhancing opportunity could be just around the corner. Volunteering gives you the chance to expand your skills and often shows good communication, teamwork and dedication.
Having volunteer work on your CV is a good indication to an employer that you aren’t afraid to commit to something – plus you get to contribute to a cause that you believe in.
Sport is always a strong addition to your CV, as it demonstrates a wide range of skills – and keeps you healthy at the same time. Group sports show reliability and teamwork, whereas individual sports show dedication and (healthy) competitiveness. These are all elements that will strengthen your CV, especially if you or your team perform well in competitions.
Take further advantage of your sport by assuming a leadership role, as this will prove your ability to analyse the strengths of others and delegate appropriately. Be sure to place emphasis on the skills that the sport provides you with, highlighting the ones relevant to your particular career choice.
When you went to your freshers’ fair, you probably noticed enthusiastic third-years promoting various societies. College societies cover just about every topic from accounting right through to video games, so you’re likely to find something that will interest you.
Like volunteering, being a member of a society proves that you are enthusiastic and dedicated, with a willingness to learn more about a specific topic, making this a useful point to put on your CV. If you get in touch with your students’ union and find that there’s no society that you fancy, you can always apply to start your own – through recruiting prospective members and writing a case for your society, you can secure funding from your college (which would be another useful fact that’d look great on your CV!).
Writing a blog is a great way to voice your opinion and connect with like-minded people. What first-time bloggers will find is that it takes determination, hard work and a lot of time to both set up and manage a blog. Bloggers have to be prepared to spend time planning, researching and writing for their sites, which demonstrates to a potential employer that you’re committed to your content. Blogs with good traffic can sometimes be monetised through advertisements and partnerships with relevant businesses – so you might be able to make some extra cash on the side as well.
6. Learning a Second Language
We live in a globally connected world where businesses span continents and therefore the need for multilingual staff is on the rise. Learning a second language could present you with more job opportunities in the future, and could even give you the option of moving abroad for work – with that second language under your belt you’ll be living it up on the Costa del Sol in no time at all.
Popular languages include Mandarin, Spanish and German – all of which provide good opportunities in business hubs across the globe.
7. Become a Student Rep
Future politicians, we’re looking at you for this one. A good student rep is the type of person who can listen to the needs of their fellow students and assess the impact of their college’s efforts while being unafraid to voice their opinion to the powers that be.
Representing other people is a huge responsibility, as you’re trusted to manage both opinions and expectations. Adding this to your CV will prove to potential employers that you’re a competent leader and communicator, which are both highly desirable qualities in any employee.
8. Job-Specific Activities
If you’re lucky enough to already know the career that you want to go into, you can make use of your time in college to get on with some CV-enhancing activities. Using your three (or more) years in higher education to build some form of experience in your chosen area will significantly improve your chances of employment once you leave – for example, if you want to pursue a career in journalism or video production, you can get involved with student media, which would give you solid experience to discuss in job interviews. Don’t worry if you don’t know yet, because you can still make use of clubs and societies to build on your more generic skills.
Use Your Time at College to Get Things Done
Regardless of whether you do or don’t know what you want your future career to be, it’s important to use your time at college wisely. This is a point in your life when you’ll have plenty of free time in between lectures, and proactively finding activities to do that will enhance your CV. This can have a huge impact on your changes of securing the job that you want in the future. So if you can sacrifice one night down the pub to instead spend an evening in a homeless shelter, or you can use that hour between lectures to write an article for the student newspaper, you’re one step closer to the perfect CV.