As another year passes us by, it’s time to set some goals for the New Year. And while you might have already set your mind on eating healthier, heading to the gym more often or spending more time with your family, it’s well worth setting yourself a few careers-related challenges, too.
Whether you’re still in university or have just entered the graduate job market, you’re probably aware of how stiff competition for graduate roles can be. But there are numerous ways to make your CV stand out from the crowd and prove to employers that you go above and beyond - so why not kickstart your January by doing exactly that?
With that said, here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions that’ll boost your graduate CV and increase your chances of career success. All you have to do is set them, stick to them and achieve them. You’ve got this!
I will… learn a new skill
If there’s one thing you should never do, it’s stop learning. Picking up new skills and knowledge makes you a more well-rounded person, and can work miracles for your career in the process.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Or is there a skill that you know would give you an advantage in your field? Whether it’s learning a new language, mastering a specific software, refining your writing prowess or working on your public speaking ability, investing your time into a new skill will help you bring more value to future employers.
Plus, learning a new skill doesn’t need to cost a penny. There are thousands of free resources on the internet — from YouTube tutorials to free courses, as well as Bright Network Academy, — and they’re all waiting at the tip of your fingers. Pursuing this type of professional development shows a great deal of self-motivation and initiative — and trust us, graduate employers are always on the lookout for that!
I will… take every application seriously
If you’re on the market for a graduate job and haven’t had much luck, overhauling your job application technique would make a worthwhile resolution. And this shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all task; to get the most out of the job hunt, it’s essential to adapt your graduate CV and cover letter for each and every role you apply for.
So, how do you do it? When a new role pops up that takes your fancy, have a careful read through the job description. As you do so, note down any key skills, knowledge, qualifications, programmes or character attributes mentioned. Next, go through your list and tick off any that you hold or can match.
Now that you know exactly how your skills and experience and complement the role, use your findings to write your CV. Your overarching aim should be to match their requirements as closely as you can and make sure that everything in your CV is actually relevant to the role you’re applying for. That’ll leave you with a perfectly tailored CV and a seriously boosted chance of gaining an interview!
I will... boost my digital know-how
We’re living through the digital revolution, and life as we know it is becoming more digitised by the second. Organisations and businesses now rely heavily on digital technology — and moving forward, they need to employ people who can understand it.
This might sound nervewracking, but it actually puts you in a great position. You have the ability to improve your digital skills, and if you do, you’ll seriously improve your employability. This covers all sectors, too — even if you feel your dream career isn’t particularly technology-related, you’re still likely to be working with IT systems, computers and software on a daily basis.
As with our previous point, boosting your digital skills won’t put you out of pocket, there are countless opportunities available in a single click of a button.
I will… start a side-project
You know the drill. All the graduate jobs seem to require experience, but in order to get experience, you need to get a job. Catch-22, right? Well, not really!
The truth is, experience doesn’t necessarily mean working in a full-time role. Freelance work, starting your own mini business or running an industry-related blog can all count as experience, too. And, even better, projects like these show graduate employers that you’re a serious self-starter who goes out and makes their own experience, rather than simply waiting for it to come to you. And what’s not to love about that?
So, if you’ve got a business idea you’d love to put into action, feel you could try your hand at some freelance work, or have been meaning to set up your own blog, now is the time to do it. As well as boosting your graduate CV, you might even be able to make yourself some extra cash. Win-win!
I will… volunteer my skills
The benefits of volunteering are quite literally endless. You get that feel-good factor or helping out a good cause, you meet interesting people and you can work on something which means a lot to you. But did you know that volunteering is also a fantastic way to boost your grad CV?
You’re bound to have picked up plenty of useful hard skills during your time at university, and these can be particularly valuable to charities. A marketing graduate might offer to overhaul a local charity’s branding, an English graduate could help to write the copy for an organisation’s website, and a sports science graduate could offer to run a weekly sports event for a society.
See what we’re getting at here? Volunteering can prove a great way to build sector-specific experience whilst also doing your bit to make the world a better place. Browse the major job boards for opportunities in your local area, or simply pop in and tell them what you can offer - they’ll always be pleased to have you on board!
Are you ready to set your CV-boosting New Year’s resolutions?
No matter what your current situation, setting yourself at least one careers-related goal will pay dividends for your future. Once you’ve decided what you’re aiming for, write it down and stick it somewhere that you’ll see it on a daily basis. If you push yourself to reach your goals, you just might find that this year will be your most successful one yet - good luck!
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.