Earlier this week, on behalf of Freshminds Scotland, I was delighted to be asked to take part in an employability panel at Edinburgh University alongside Accenture and PA Consulting. The session took place at the Edinburgh University Business School.
Presented by Ros Claase from the university, the event gave advice to students on what to put on CVs, applications forms and cover letters. One of the main issues that all of the panel returned to several times was the phrase ‘So What?’
In writing any type of application or CV think about your audience and what the document is saying to them. If there is something extraneous or irrelevant then take it off and prioritise what is important.
As the session was aimed at Masters students who, in many cases, will be making their first job applications we had a real focus on demonstrating abilities rather than just knowledge. If you do not have the exact work or internship experience it does not mean that you do not have the capability to do a job. It is this capability that you can show on your CV by considering what skills are transferrable and how they relate to the company and role in question. As with all narrative writing, show, don’t tell, always evidence your strengths.
All panel members reiterated the importance of spelling and grammar, particularly in the current graduate application environment where recruiters (internal and external) often need to be able to filter a large volume of CVs in a short amount of time. There was a quite shocking statistic given; 56% of applications to IBM are rejected due to spelling or grammar mistakes (and they are generous, allowing applicants up to three mistakes). Proof check, get someone else to proof check, then check once more.
One thing that did surprise all three of us on the panel was that after the session not one of the students approached us for a business card. Here was one specialist recruiter and two leading consultants to create relationships with.
Writing CVs, cover letters and sending out job applications is one way of starting, or furthering your career but combine this with intelligent networking and you will see much better results.