Thursday, 19 April 2012

A helping hand?

For the last ten years or so, The X Factor has been essential Saturday night television. Every Autumn we see hundreds of wannabes lining up to audition for their five minutes of fame. I can't say that I follow the series religiously but will admit that my guilty pleasure is watching the early shows so that I can enjoy some good old-fashioned car crash tv. For the first few weeks, it is less about those with talent and more about the talentless, who egged on by family members proceed to embarrass themselves to a huge television audience.

A supportive family can sometimes make the difference to a student when applying for placements. A lift to an interview or a little advance for a train fare can provide that little helping hand which enables a student to focus on the task ahead and be successful. However, there can be well meaning interventions that are less helpful, and which are more akin to the blind love shown by a mother to their tone deaf daughter on The X Factor.

I am of course referring to parental input into CVs. Now I'm all for having someone check your spelling and grammar before you press the send button, but when it comes to the content of your application, the best people to go and see for advice will be in your placement or careers service. There will be exceptions of course, for example your mother may work in recruitment or perhaps your father is a consultant at the company you want to apply to. However, for the most part, they will probably not be able to add significant value to your CV.

It is therefore a source of frustration when students come in for appointments but do not want to take on board the constructive criticism that is offered to them because a loved one has already given them the thumbs up. My colleagues and I do not pick up on things that could be improved simply because we are pedants. I look at CVs, applications and covering letters every day. I talk to employers to find out what they are looking for, and this is reflected in the advice provided and in the handouts I produce. I will offer an objective view and tell you what needs to be said rather than what you want to hear.

Does your sister work in recruitment?

You are not obliged to take on board everything we say, but in the same way that Simon Cowell (generally) knows more about music than your family, the Placement Officers and Careers Advisers at your university are best placed to provide meaningful guidance as you embark on your search for internships