By Samara Dunn
Have you ever sat down to apply for a role and realised that your resume is as empty as it was when you were 15-years-old and applying for your first job? Yeah, me too. These are some of the things I did in my final year of university that probably helped me get this very job. Look at me now - semi-professional blog writer and employed! The millennial dream.
1. Get involved in extra-curricular activities on campus
I spent my first years of university revelling in the fact that I only had three contact hours per subject. I came in, did my work, and left. What I didn’t realise I was missing out on was the plethora of development opportunities that extra-curricular activities entail. Check out the list of current clubs on campus – join a club and actively get involved. I have a friend who skipped the screening process for a graduate recruitment program (yep, no psychometric quiz or awkward video interview – straight to the assessment centre) based on a connection he made in a workshop a club offered.
Apart from these perks, being involved in a club on campus shows an employer that you’re passionate, can work in a team, have well-developed leadership skills and take the initiative to get involved – all things that can be outlined on your resume.
2. Take on student leadership opportunities.
At UTS Careers, one of our student leadership opportunities is the Peer Network Program (otherwise known as those students in the bright orange t-shirts hanging around the foyer in the tower). Ever wondered how your friend got that totally awesome job on campus? They probably spent time volunteering in a student leadership role that helped them access the elusive ~hidden job market~
(TLDR - more than 50% of open opportunities aren’t actually advertised).
However, the program itself is a great feature on your resume, with the ability to highlight skills such as communication and leadership.
3. Go on an international exchange
This point may have come to me out of a moment of envy (someone at work is about to spend a semester abroad in Copenhagen and I am insanely jealous), but it’s also an amazing experience that develops a load of skills that can be flaunted on your resume.
Imagine this: you’re on exchange. You’re meeting new people, you’re travelling and, just maybe, you’re actually going to your classes. You haven’t gone out of your way to do this, but you’ve now inadvertently acquired valuable skills such as intercultural communication, cultural awareness, as well as self-sufficiency and independence; all of which you can focus on in a job application.
4. Focus on transferable skills
Students generally believe that relevant work experience is one of the key criteria to landing a role in your desired industry. Although this can help, employers are increasingly seeking soft skills that students can develop almost anywhere.
Consider how you can make your hospitality/retail/life experience relevant to the role you’re applying for by looking at the keywords in the job description (I personally like to copy and paste the entire advertisement into a word cloud generator). Then, look at your experiences and work out in what way you developed and/or used these skills. All those customers that you low-key just wanted to punch in the face but didn’t? That’s the ability to stay calm under stressful situations. The time you were understaffed and literally had to do everything yourself? Working under pressure (and time management!).
Focusing on transferable skills gives more depth to your resume and shows that you have reflected on what these roles actually taught you – not just what you did.
5. Look at your accomplishments
Two things that employers love seeing hand in hand on a resume are numbers and results. Even if you haven’t touched a calculator since the HSC and have no intention to ever have to use math again in your life, it’s still important to know how to quantify your achievements.
A simple one is looking back at your university projects – is there any assignment that you got a good mark in and is relevant to the role you’re applying for? Highlight it in your resume. Spent hours perfecting your Fortnite technique to finally hit the solo Victory Royale? Maybe not, but use the momentum of personal achievements to draw similarities in your professional life and remember: they don’t need to be industry-related, just relevant.
If you feel like you don’t have the aligned capabilities, get involved or draw on things from your education and personal experiences to sell yourself to your future employer. Don’t make the mistake of not realising that you get experience and develop skills in so many more ways than the traditional job – and that employers actively look for these outside experiences!
Samara Dunn is a Recruitment Administrator within the Business Development Team at UTS Careers. With experience working closely with students to increase their employability skills, Samara now works with employers to increase and develop opportunities on CareerHub.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash