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6 Ways to Improve Your CV Before You Get to University

18th May 2017 Posted by: Kate Istead

AS COMPETITION for spots at university and jobs in the workplace increases, good grades are just not enough anymore. Like employers, university admissions officers like to see a candidate with experience on their CV. While it isn’t easy to overcome the catch-22 of getting an education without experience or experience without the right education, there are lots of relevant and meaningful opportunities that can help you stand out from the crowd – and the earlier you start, the better.

Volunteering

Volunteering for a cause and consistently sticking to it shows commitment and dedication, and it proves you’re willing to work for something you believe in. While ideally your volunteer experience will be relevant to your dream job or university course, this might not be as important as the transferrable skills volunteer work will give you. Many opportunities require role flexibility and give volunteers the chance to gain skills and experiences they’d otherwise not yet be qualified for in the workplace, which can help fill the gaps in your CV.

Hobbies and activities

Our early experiences before we enter the workforce may not seem to hold as much weight as later employment opportunities, but having extra-curricular activities on your CV can be a way of demonstrating personal goal setting and achievement. Depending on the activity, it also shows an ability to gain useful skills. For example, joining the school newspaper will give you journalism skills that will come in handy when you’re writing papers at university and being on a sports team shows you are a team player, an important skill that is sought after both in university courses and in jobs.

Continuing education

Nothing is more impressive that someone who is proactive in seeking new opportunities to learn and improve themselves. Taking further education courses not only expands the knowledge you gained in high school, it is also a way of keeping gaps in your CV to a minimum while you’re looking for a job. Continuing education courses are offered at many universities, but these days, online courses are even more prevalent. Coursera offers online courses in just about every subject from some of the world’s top universities, while Udacity offers both courses and nanodegrees designed to give you the skills necessary for specific job roles.

Part-time job

This might be obvious advice, but getting a part-time job can help improve the appearance of your CV. Not only can it remove any unwanted gaps, but it also shows that you’re a person who is capable of demonstrating basic skills like showing up on time, offering excellent customer service or managing money. If you’re in education at the same time, having a part-time job also shows that you’re capable of multi-tasking – a skill that every university course and future job role will require of you.

Club Membership

If you’ve already started applying for jobs, you’re likely to have noticed that many application forms ask if you belong to any professional institutions. Membership to a club or society demonstrates that you have important networking skills and that you’re willing to make a commitment. While some memberships will require more experience or fees you don’t have, other organisations are run for students, by students. Joining the student union shows that you are proactive, while joining a society for a particular course or cause shows your passion. If you can take on a leadership position, or other activities relevant to your future goals, for example taking on the social media marketing if you’re interested in digital communications roles, even better.

Gap Year

Gap years are an ideal way to explore different experiences and discover your own passions. They are more than just time off – they are often a combination of job experiences, hobbies, travel opportunities and volunteer roles, all rolled into one. They can also be an opportunity to round out prior experiences – for example, you could spend 6 months in South America practicing the Spanish you first learned in high school. However, even if you don’t learn a new language, gap years show future employers or admissions officers that you are capable of communicating effectively within diverse environments and cultures, a skill that is increasingly necessary in our globalised world.

No matter what you do to build up your CV, how you convey the information is the most important thing. Make sure you fully describe the skills and knowledge you gained from each experience, making each section of your CV as relevant as possible to the position you’re after.

Once you’ve got the experience, be sure to check out our Top Tips on Applying to Study Abroad and 6 Tips to Inspire Your Essay.

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