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5 invaluable things you can do outside of work to boost your CV
July 23rd 2015
Want your CV to stand out from the crowd? Here are the extra job skills that can increase your employability and help nab you your dream job
Competition for jobs is fiercer than ever nowadays. So what job skills can distinguish your CV from the hundreds of similar ones out there all vying for the same spot? We asked Career Coach and Joint Managing Director of Personal Career Management Corinne Mills, for her top career advice for giving your CV writing skills an added boost and transforming your application from ordinary to extraordinary.
1. Get involved in the community
As well as increasing your teamwork skills, it also demonstrates a willingness to help those in need. “What it shows is your team spirit,” explains Corinne. “Being community-minded is very appealing to employers as it illustrates that you’re not selfishly looking after your own ends and are more mindful to the bigger team picture. It could be something to do with your Faith community, helping out at a local school or campaigning for Amnesty,” recommends Corinne.
One word of caution though - only include on your CV if it’s unlikely to spark a negative reaction. “You don’t need to share your political views with your employer, but I would suggest that the kind of campaigning that is included on your CV should be something everybody thinks is a good idea and isn’t too contentious - for example saving the planet, building safer roads etc. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but perhaps don’t necessarily put it on your CV if it’s very political.”
2. Do some further studying or learning
To show a desire to grow and work on your skill set in more creative ways, further studies could prove to be the ticket to making your CV more interesting. “This could be an online course or something completely unrelated such as crafts, learning a new language or studying something like Art History for your own interest,” says Corinne.
“It shows an employer a love of learning - that you’re intellectually hungry and that you’re willing and able to take on new information. This is really important as any employer wants to see versatility and the ability to adapt to change. It also shows an energy to learn extra skills in your own time, which is incredibly appealing to an employer.”
3. Attend networking events
“Network!” recommends Corinne. “Talk to people outside of work and attend professional events. If you’re in HR, you might go along to a CIPD event or if you’re in finance, you might attend events about the ACA or ones held by the ICAEW. Professional institutes or bodies will hold these kinds of events regularly.
“It shows you are active within the professional arena; and by attending events in your own time and making yourself visible in the community, it will give your CV more credibility.”
4. Boost your personal development
“This might be about building your personal effectiveness and impact such as becoming more assertive or increasing confidence,” explains Corinne. “You acquire a lot of these skills through life - not a lot of people are born with them - and no matter how good you are at your job, if want to progress, you have to be able to articulate yourself clearly to your team.”
If your current job doesn’t offer courses that teach these skills, there is help available elsewhere. “You could work with a Career Coach or take a personal impact course, sign up for voice coaching or hire an Image Consultant - something that is about helping you present yourself in a professional capacity that will also help you in your career.”
Not only will your newfound confidence increase the power of what’s on your CV, but also how you communicate it on your CV too. “Your CV will read better due to the fact that you’ll be feeling more confident in yourself,” explains Corinne. “You’ll feel better about speaking about yourself in a positive light and the tone of your CV will instantly change as a result of, for example, your choice of language which is often very reflective of how confident a prospective employee is in their capabilities. That doesn’t mean to say that those who are confident in their abilities are always better, but when it comes to CVs, confidence really does make a difference.”
5. Do a gap analysis
Lastly, mind the gap and put some proactive steps in place to fill in the missing pieces of your CV that could be holding you back from progressing up the career ladder. “This involves looking at your CV and what is on it at the moment, looking at your next role and what you would like it to be and then looking at the gap between the two - what do you need be able to offer in order to increase your employability? Do some research - speak to agencies and recruiters, talk to friends that work in the industries that you’re interested in or other professional contacts, look on the internet to find out information about those kinds of jobs and then look at how you benchmark against that and what you can do to get there,” advises Corinne.
“Get a career action plan together including further training, work shadowing, volunteering, reading up on the subject, taking a course or taking on some additional duties at work to give you more exposure to the kind of things you want to do more of.”
When it comes to asking for additional responsibilities at work without alluding to the fact that you may be thinking about leaving, what is the best way to go about it? “Talk to your manager and say it would be really useful for your own personal development for example, for you to sit in with the finance team to understand the company from their perspective,” advises Corinne. “However, be mindful that they may or may not give you the time to do it, so you may need to do it in addition to your current duties, whether that be working through lunchtime or working later to finish another piece of work,” says Corinne. “Position it as good for your current role and helping yours and the team’s performances,” she adds.