I want you to think about this right now:
If a graduate employer looked at your CV, would they find relevant experience and skills for the graduate job you just applied to?
Or would they see this information written clearly on your CV without having to guess and work it out for themselves?
The thing is employers and HR professionals are super busy and see 100’s of CV’s and applications for their graduate roles, and don’t have the time to read every single word on your CV before they consider whether you are a worthy applicant.
Here is why having relevant experience is crucial
Speaking from experience previously working as a recruitment consultant, we would look for key words and phrases on a CV before putting them in a “Potential pile” to review in more depth later.
Your goal when constructing your CV is to get yourself into that “Potential pile” so that later when they look at it in more detail you have a higher chance of being called for an interview. The thing is you only have seconds to do it.
I always advise international students I work with to try and gain some form of relevant work experience during their studies. This may be a part time job, a year doing a sandwich placement or some form of summer internship, so if you have done any of these, that great, you just increased your chances.
Employers love to see this stuff and you should clearly write this on your CV so that when you start applying for post graduate jobs you have a head start over those who didn’t do anything while studying.
Will my CV fail the “Relevant Experience test” if I didn’t get work experience in my target industry?
The reality is some industries are easier to get related experience than others. That doesn’t mean that if your industry is one of those that you need to be fully qualified to gain work, you shouldn’t bother at all.
There is a term in the careers advice scene called “Transferable skills” which basically means that there are skills that can be gained that are applicable from one industry to the next.
The key is this, even while you are studying you should have an idea of the types of required skills needed in your target industry. If you are studying in one of those industries where it is hard to gain related experience, you should aim for a part time job or voluntary work which covers related and transferrable skills.
To find out what desirable skills need in your target industry you can search and check the database at the National Careers Service Website
Once you have gained some transferrable skills, don’t forget to add and highlight the most relevant ones to your industry on your CV.
Take an in-depth look at your CV right now and conduct a Relevant Experience Test. Does it pass or does it fail? If it fails you need to look at the work you have previously done and highlight some skills relevant to your target industry before you start searching for graduate jobs in the UK.
Don’t forget to share this with other international students that may need to check their CV.
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