Graduate Blog

Standing out from the Crowd: How to make the most of your CV

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It’s the thing that most students dread – after most of your life spent in education, you now have to step away from writing essays and reports and enter the scary reality of graduate life and finding a proper job.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 92.1 per cent of university leavers were in employment or further study six months after graduating in 2012-13. A further study from 2013 however, showed that 47% of recent graduate were in jobs that did not require a degree.

Now more than ever, it’s important for graduates to stand out from the crowd with a wide range of skills and experience to differentiate themselves from the next applicant who also has a 2:1 degree. Even if you are graduating in the next few months, don’t fear, there’s still time for you to get some extra skills and experience in order to help you get your dream graduate job, such as;


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Volunteer experience – Volunteering can look fantastic on your C.V. and gives you a wide range of skills depending on what volunteering you’re taking up. Whether you’re working in a team, leading a team, or working individually these are all valuable skills that you can place on your C.V. and provide examples during interview. Volunteering can give you experience in organisation, communication, time-management and problem solving to name just a few. As a student, Students’ Union’s offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities, or find a local charity shop that’s looking for extra staff. There are countless volunteering opportunities out there and they all add an extra layer to your C.V.


Work Experience – Don’t get this confused with Volunteer experience. The work experience I’m referring to will be a work placement in an area you’re maybe looking to go into after you finish your degree. For example, if you want to carry on and become a teacher after you’ve finished your maths degree, why not contact your old primary/secondary school and see if they would consider taking you on as a teaching assistant to give you some experience? Or if you want to become a journalist reach out to some companies in an area you’re interested in and see if they would consider a work placement. Even though most of these opportunities won’t be paid work, the experience in the area will be invaluable and also reaffirm what you want to do after university.


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Travelling – The benefits of travelling may not be apparent as to why you should put this on your C.V. but travelling can benefit a graduate in so many ways. Many students/graduates who go travelling during their summers come back more grown-up and worldly, having discovered different cultures. It also means you’re disciplined, having travelled with just a backpack and a certain amount of money to your name. Perhaps you’ve also worked while you’re travelled, again leading to so many examples you can match up to questions in interviews such as ‘Give me an example of when you’ve had to think quickly in a situation’ or ‘Give me an example of when you’ve used effective communication’.

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Camp America – Something that fits in with travelling is the opportunity to go work in a summer camp in America. Think The Parent Trap, just without Lindsay Lohan as separated at birth twins. Your fellow camp counsellors can be from around the world and you get to meet so many different people because of it. Most also decide to delay their return home to go travelling across America, and often do this with people they’ve met at Camp. By doing something like Camp America, you’ve had the opportunity to work through the summer, and work on your tan whilst doing it.

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Learn a language – Particularly if you are entering a career where this skill would come in handy, what’s stopping you from taking a few night classes whilst at university. It can certainly help in the long run, and make you stand out from others.

So, there you have it. Develop your CV AND get some great experiences!

About the Author

Rachel Smith Rachel Smith

Hi I'm Rachel, I graduated from Northumbria back in 2012 and completely rediscovered my love and passion for writing -now that I don't have to write countless essays. I currently run an online blog writing on TV, film, books and theatre and contribute to Flicks and the City. A lover of chocolate, Diet Coke and being a complete geek, I often quote from TV and film and commit to far too many TV shows. It's all part of this great journey called Life :)

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