Hidden CV jewels and getting ready for life after college

Q: Any unlikely piece of information I should have on my CV? (CD ).

A: This is an excellent question. Many people make poor use of their volunteering experience, believing that their CV should only contain professional career events.

What you do in your spare time says a lot about you. I’ve heard senior HR personnel talk about how they quickly go to the community and voluntary experience area in a CV to get a proper feel for a candidate.

Giving time to your community shows a generous side and suggests that you're a hard worker who likes to get things done. Apart from the fact that you contribute to your local area, making it better for those who live there and for generations to come, you may also be developing relevant skills through your community or voluntary involvement – people management, strategic planning, event planning, public relations, marketing and so on. Don’t take that experience, or the skills you’re developing, for granted.

I don't know your situation, CD, but I urge you to look at your community and voluntary involvement to see what parallels you can draw between that part of your life and the kind of roles you are chasing. I would be very surprised if some gold doesn't lurk there. But the onus is on you to find and broadcast it.

Q: I’m in college. I’ll graduate next year – what should I do immediately after graduation to advance my career? (IK ).

A: I will throw this question back at you: what should you do now?” As I said in a recent column, “the time to fatten the calf is not the morning of the fair.”

In college, you are starting to build a strong profile that you hope will be of interest to employers. Document your projects well – take photographs, making videos and retaining feedback from tutors or others who evaluated you.

If you get something published while in college, keep that for your CV or portfolio. If you have been chosen to work on a special project, pop it into your CV.

I attended journalism college many moons ago, and virtually of all us focused on having a strong portfolio before we left college. The job of building your career doesn't start on the day you graduate.

After graduating, understand the value of interacting with other people in your sector. Any chance you get to attend an event in your sphere of interest, take it. Get to know people. Introduce yourself. Ask others to make introductions for you. Comment in relevant groups in LinkedIn discussions.

Can you do something in your community that shows you as someone with relevant skills in your area? If you are a finance graduate to be, volunteering as treasurer of your local hockey club could be a little extra for your CV.

Think about how others see you. When they look, what do they see? They should see someone embedded in their sector.

Have you references from employers who hosted you for placements during your college years? Think about creating a profile, both online and in person, of yourself as someone keen to portray a deep interest in your area of work and who wants to now learn more in this crucial phase of your career.

Slí Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) offer full online services, including CV preparation, LinkedIn profile optimisation, interview training and mock interviews. Email your questions to [email protected].


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