As we approach the end of another academic year, very soon, the job market will prepare for an influx of fresh and enthusiastic academics looking for their first career break.
I am already seeing ‘Graduate Pending’ CVs land regularly in my inbox, along with school leavers too. And, staying mindful that Covid has denied young people the part-time work experience opportunities that usually prove how dependable and responsible they can be, the current crop of up-and-coming job seekers will be presenting to the market with little or no practical experience in the professional world.
Even with the high volume of vacancies we are seeing across the UK right now, it can be extremely hard to stand out and be shortlisted for an interview if there is nothing on your CV to link you to the job you have applied for. So how do you begin to tell new graduates apart?
One of the crucial areas I explore in any CV that helps me to decide whether someone stands out from the crowd is the ‘sport and interests’ section.
As a recruiter familiar with CVs of all shapes and sizes, my advice if you are preparing a graduate resume – or helping your children to compose theirs – is that while academics are important, what people look for most is what I call the ‘extra bits’. It is the volunteering, the charity work, or the discipline and dedication it takes to reach a certain level in sport.
I believe that the skills young people learn in these pursuits contribute greatly to their overall development. Especially through sport.
Not only does sport instil resilience and improve emotional intelligence, but it also helps to shape values and improve interpersonal and teamwork skills. Offering demonstrable examples of this in your CV is how you can shine as it offers recruiters an insight into the personality of the person they could be hiring.
Having spent a not-insignificant amount of time volunteering CV advice and hosting mock interviews in schools on behalf of Founders4Schools, I have found that it is the children who regularly do out of school activities that have the most to talk about. Often, they are more confident than their peers and, for the most part, are better communicators.
Only last week, I was sitting poolside at 7 am on the outskirts of Leeds while my son prepared to compete in a regional swim competition. Watching the children interact freely with others from their club and those in neighbouring cities and boroughs reassured me that all the early starts are perhaps not such a bad idea after all.
Perhaps my weekend spent sweltering on plastic seats amongst the blistering heat of a packed spectator gallery was a reasonable trade if it teaches my son skills that will build his character, shape his outlook toward a challenge, and be incredibly useful when the time comes to join the workplace.
Having recently helped a graduate who competed at a professional level in his chosen sport, not only did his CV shine out to me, but when I spoke with him, he was a long way ahead of others in terms of his attitude, professionalism, maturity, and drive. In many ways, he had seen more of life, and it has helped him immensely. He found a career opportunity very quickly.
Regardless of the activity, competing at an elevated level in anything takes a lot of commitment, dedication, and time. If you see this on a CV, remember that it also means people have more than likely missed events with friends to ensure they still are dedicated to their training routine and if they can do that, they can go the extra mile in the workplace too.