Tuesday, 26 March 2013

We sold our souls to the man

Something that my students often struggle with is selling their skills. Often when you scratch below the surface they have brilliant things to talk about, but on first viewing their CVs can look pretty ordinary. If given the chance to meet with a recruiter there is an opportunity to rectify this by putting meat on the bones of an application, but that can only be done if the first review is passed. As such it is hugely important for aspiring placement students to sell themselves from the word go.

It is not just my students who find this a difficult craft to master. I'm as guilty of underselling myself as anybody. Standing on rooftops and shouting about the good work I'm doing or recent achievements just doesn't come naturally, but it is something I'm determined to conquer, hence the addition of some personal achievements to the Desktop version of this blog.

When making my submissions for the NPIAs last autumn, rather than limit myself to just words, I decided to create a short video clip to highlight some of the work I've undertaken as The Placement Officer. In the months since then I've attempted several articles in which I hoped to portray this vid as an example of how to make an application stand out, but they all felt pretty narcissistic and so never saw the light of day.

However, determined to make sure I work towards my 7 C's of digital career literacy I'm not going to discard the promo now that it has served its initial purpose and been played in front of a judging panel. Instead I am going to publish the clip here for all and sundry to watch.

So what do we have here: A useful marketing tool? A Placement Assistant with a chip on his shoulder? A clever way to demonstrate I don't take myself too seriously? You decide.

For anybody interested in the technical side, this clip was put together using nothing more sophisticated than Windows Live Movie Maker, images captured using print screen and a little imagination.
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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

4 Ways to Improve Your CV

We all know that a good CV can make the difference in getting a foot in the door with an employer. Judging by some of the drafts I receive from my students, there are varying degrees of interpretation on what makes for a good CV! This guest article courtesy of provides 4 simple straightforward ways to improve your CV, and hopefully get you in front of a recruiter.

When it comes to searching for a job, your CV is one of the most important tools that you have. It’s the first impression that you’ll give most employers, and if you want to fight off the competition, it needs to be well written and showcase your skills in the best possible way.

Let’s take a look at 4 ways in which you can improve your CV.

Focus on results, not tasks

This is a mistake that most people make. Rather than simply listing the tasks that you carried out in your previous roles, focus on the achievements that you made. For example, a restaurant manager focusing on tasks might say ‘I managed the restaurant during busy service periods’. If they were focusing on results though, they might say ‘I increased daily sales by 25% over a three month period’. Even if your CV mainly includes trainee jobs without a great deal of responsibility, there will be ways to showcase the results that you helped to achieve.

Include a personal statement

Many people don’t bother to include a personal statement in their CV, but it’s a great way to get noticed and stand out from the crowd. A personal statement is basically a couple of short paragraphs at the beginning that tell the employer about your skills and experience, before they get into the nitty gritty. In this section, back your claims up with brief evidence. Rather than just listing qualities such as ‘team player, strong communicator and problem solver’, explain how you’ve acquired these skills or developed them.

Cut out the waffle

When you’re applying for a job, it’s likely that not everything that you have on your CV will be relevant. If this is the case, be ruthless and cut it out. If you have a Masters degree and ten years experience in your sector, for example, it’s not necessary to list all of your GCSE results and the groups that you were involved in at school. Most employers are inundated with applications for every job that they advertise, so make their job easier for them. Stick to the relevant and useful information, and if possible, keep your CV to 2 pages of A4.

Tailor your CV for each application 

You should never send exactly the same CV to every employer. Recruiters will be able to spot this from a mile away, and it gives out the message that you aren’t really interested in their company or this particular position. Before sending your CV, read through the job description and person specification very carefully. Consider how you can make some tweaks and changes so you’re meeting all of the requirements. It could take less than half an hour to do this, and it could be the difference between being invited for an interview and having your application rejected.

Have you updated your CV recently? What do you think are the most important aspects?

This article was brought to you by Ruth Hinds on behalf of AllTheTopBananas. ATTB allows you to search for and browse through UK jobs in one place, from IT jobs in Cambridge to receptionist jobs in Liverpool. You can also upload your CV to increase your chances of being headhunted.