Kat Snodgrass is mthree’s Head of Alumni Talent for the UK and Europe. She’s helped hundreds of graduates secure roles in Software Engineering and Production Support at global investment banks through our Alumni Programme. In this article, Kat shares what she looks for when reviewing applications and tells you how you can stand out from the crowd.
Feeling unsure what to say about yourself on your CV, now the world has changed beyond recognition? That’s understandable. Obviously coronavirus put a spanner in the works when it comes to internships and placements. Programmes were cancelled, and activities you might have talked about as a candidate in the past suddenly dried up.
The good news is that a lot of graduates still have some great additional points from the last year to put on their CV. But it can be hard to remember them, or even to realise what’s relevant.
In the talent team at mthree, we review thousands of applications. Managers are interested in all sorts of details you might not expect.
Any activities you do outside of your direct studies can help you stand out from others, so I’m keen to share some new remote-friendly ideas for adding content to your CV.
Many of us have found ourselves with a lot of spare time when we would normally have been socialising, holidaying, or generally… not being in lockdown! Employers will expect you to put some of that time to good use.
That’s why any personal projects you can include on your CV are so valuable. Employers want to see your enthusiasm outside of education, because it means you’re developing knowledge and skills.
For example, if you want to break into a career in tech, did you teach yourself a new programming language? Build an app for fun? Make a website for a friend? Have a think of a relevant activity you’ve done in the last year and be sure to add it in, stating that it’s a personal project.
Insight sessions or webinars
As these sometimes only last a few hours, graduates don’t always think about adding these to their CVs. However, insight sessions and webinars give you an overview about a certain topic or organisation, which is valuable experience. They also show that you’re on top of industry trends. So I’d recommend adding them in.
Have a think about the result of the insight session or webinar. What did you learn? How did it make an impact on you?
Only include the insight sessions that are most relevant to the role and sector you are going forward to. If you’re sending off to jobs in a couple of different sectors, it’s always important to tailor your CV.
Usually, these are online sessions that give you the chance to speak directly with employers. It’s face time with individuals who can explain more about the job roles out there.
Effective networking is a great skill to have, so if you’ve attended sessions like this, pop them in your hobbies/interests section of your CV. It’s another way of showing strength in your communication skills, which can be difficult to demonstrate.
Virtual work experience or Virtual Spring Week
Virtual work experience and virtual Spring Weeks have opened up opportunities to graduates and students who may have struggled previously due to their location. It’s become possible for you to boost your CV during an era of remote working, while also gaining knowledge on the sorts of roles that are available and getting an insight into an employer’s culture.
At mthree, we held a fully remote internship in 2020, as well as a fully remote Spring Week for students. We’re not the only ones. Most organisations are building out their virtual programmes. It’s worth applying, so keep an eye on company websites.
If you do complete some virtual work experience, make sure your CV mentions the remote collaboration tools you used. For example, Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Following industry news and forums
It may seem like nothing, but if you have a real interest in a certain sector, you probably read about it or listen to podcasts and follow certain websites or prominent thinkers on the topic.
I would add a short list of your favourite sources to the hobbies/interests section. It shows that you’re taking it upon yourself to learn more about the industry.
Have you completed any online courses that could be somehow relevant to your career? Do refer to them on your CV. This could be anything from self-paced programming to a leadership course or problem-solving course. These types of things were super important before lockdown, but are even more necessary to include now.
Fundraising and charity activities
Again, this has always been useful to talk about on your CV, and it’s now more useful than ever.
Were you involved in any volunteering to support vulnerable people in your local community? Did you take part in any fundraising efforts? We may not realise it, but all of these things involve transferable skills, even though they may not be directly related to a career.
Start keeping track of what you’ve done
We’re all a bit brain-fried from the impact of coronavirus, so I know it can be hard to remember everything you’ve achieved. Spend some time reflecting on the past year or so (maybe ask a friend or family member to jog your memory!). Note down what you can. Aim to make it a regular habit in the future.
To sum up
Bear in mind that what employers are looking for these days may not have been so prevalent a year or two ago. Remote work requires self-motivation, excellent communication and competence using tech. Anything you can demonstrate along these lines in your CV will help you get ahead in your career, and if you look closely, I bet you’ll see that you have more to talk about than you think!