When your son or daughter is about to finish their studies, it’s natural for them (and you) to start thinking about what comes next. By now, you’ve probably invested a lot of time, energy and/or money in helping them get them this far, and of course you’d like them to find a good job. An important part of this is making sure that their CV (Curriculum Vitae) really works.
If you’d like to offer a helping hand with that but it’s been a while since you last went job-hunting, these tips might help.
Get the length and structure right
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for CVs, it’s basically about showcasing skills, experience and character, without overwhelming the reader with information. A CV should be only two to three pages long and well structured for easy reading. If in doubt there are many examples available online.
What to include
These are essential:
- ID number
- Home language
- Contact details including phone and email
This should be an overview, including:
- Schools attended and when
- Details of post-school studies, including:
- Name of the institution and years of study
- Subjects studied
- Any research papers submitted
This is also the place to mention any special achievements or involvement with clubs or societies. For example, belonging to the Debating Club could imply good communication skills.
List the basic details of any work done, even if it was only part-time or on a volunteer basis. At this early stage of their career, work that doesn’t relate directly to what they studied also counts as it can show solid character traits such as a sense of responsibility.
This is where to mention things like computer skills, as well as anything unique your son or daughter can do. For example, perhaps they speak three languages or have a photographic memory.
Employers like to know that their employees are well-rounded, so list hobbies and interests here, for example, sports, crafts, volunteering, healthy living or preserving the environment. Note that something like “computer hacking” probably won’t help them get the job!
References are one of the best ways for a potential employer to get to know more about someone. Include a list of references in the CV, and have the written references themselves available on request. Letters from current or previous employers (even part-time), a mentor or advisor from a place of study, organisations where they’ve volunteered, or even the local pastor or someone else of good standing in the community all count. Include the contact details for at least two or three of those people who will definitely have good things to say.
A covering letter
The covering letter should explain why they want the job and why the company should give it to them. It needs to be factual but also show passion and personality, as this is what will first catch a potential employer’s attention.
Check, check, check
Once the CV and covering letter are drafted, offer to check through them, or suggest they ask someone else they trust to do it. A spelling or grammar error in a covering letter can be enough to get an application thrown out without so much as a glance at the CV that took hours to put together. Don’t push though – in the end, it is your child’s responsibility.
Now all you have to do is hold thumbs that they get a call asking them to come for an interview!