How to Update Your CV at University

Here's how to update your CV as a student.

CVs are an easy thing to forget about - especially at university. With assignments, exams and general student life taking over, it’s tempting to sit back and think “I’ll do it later”. But, if you’re coming to the end of your time at university, it’s probably time to look at updating your CV at university for future job applications.

Having a fresh CV in your job-hunting toolkit is vital for finding your dream job. After all, it is the first thing potential employers will be looking at. So, how should you properly update your CV? What makes a good CV? And how can you use your CV to make the most of the job market?

We’ve put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to properly update your CV while at university, including details on what to include and how to structure it. Plus, we’ve put together some details on how to find your dream job.

How to update your CV at university

Start from scratch

You probably already have a CV of some sort, but going straight in and editing your current version is not going to produce the results you want. It’s likely that your current CV was written a few years ago and isn’t suitable for the kind of jobs you’re applying for at the minute. So, it’s best to start fresh.

You’ll want to have a fresh perspective on your new CV, as re-writing an old version can cloud your judgement on the final product. That being said, it might be worth checking your old CV after you’ve written your new one, just to check you’ve not missed anything.

As CV Library suggests, starting from scratch will put you in good stead towards creating a modern, relevant and comprehensive document.

Have a brainstorm

Before you go full steam ahead and brain dump all of your skills, jobs and achievements straight onto your CV, it’s a good idea to have a quick brainstorm first. 

Spend 10 minutes mind-mapping your previous employment history, transferrable skills, education, and other experience onto paper. There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason to what you’re writing, just get it all down on paper before starting to put it into your final document.

Do your research

Before getting into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth researching some of your dream roles. Having an idea of the jobs you want to apply for will help you to appropriately tailor your CV.

Here’s how to do some effective research:

  1. Take a look on popular job sites, such as Indeed, Reed and LinkedIn, to find some of your ideal jobs.
  2. Note down the key responsibilities and skills which are stated in the job specification. 
  3. If any of these skills are relevant to you, add them to your above brainstorm.

Tailoring your CV to your ideal jobs will give you a higher chance of succeeding when applying, as you’re more likely to demonstrate the skills that the roles are asking for.

TIP: It’s likely that you won’t meet all the requirements when applying for some jobs. Glu Recruit recommends considering the daily tasks of the role, and whether you’d be suited to these. They may be negotiable.

Find a template

While you shouldn’t completely plagiarise a CV template, it’s good to get an idea of how CVs are usually laid out. To get started, find a template that you like the look of online.

Zety has some great examples of CVs that look professional, are formatted correctly, and are full of the right kinds of information. If you’re looking for a simple version, check out this downloadable word document template from Reed.

After you’ve found a template that works for you, ensure you make it your own. Recruiters have seen every CV in the book and will be able to recognise if you’ve used a generic template, so making yours personal to you is important. Try to make it look simple but professional.

What to include: the dos and don’ts

So, what should you include on a CV? Here are some dos and don’ts.

Do include:

  • Your contact info
  • Previous work experience/job history
  • Education history
  • Skills
  • Qualifications
  • Certifications and awards
  • Relevant courses
  • References (if appropriate)

Don’t include:

  • Irrelevant experience or skills
  • Lists of hobbies, if irrelevant
  • Colourful graphics or hard-to-read fonts
  • More than 2 pages
  • Clichés or common phrases
  • Spelling or grammatical errors
  • Inaccurate information

Use the above as a guide when writing your CV. Depending on your industry, experience and the job you’re applying for, some of these may not be relevant and there may be other points that should be added. When doing your research, keep this in mind.

TIP: Even though it can be tempting to load up your CV with as much information as possible, this can actually be a hindrance. Having irrelevant experience can detract away from your appropriate skills, so avoid putting things in your CV for the sake of it. 

Get a second opinion

Getting a fresh pair of eyes on your final document allows you to see it from a fresh perspective. Try asking your friends, lecturers or even current employers what they think of your CV. They might even let you know of any skills you forgot to add, or pick up on any spelling errors which you didn’t notice.

It might be worth offering to look over your friend’s CV in return for them looking at yours, so you can both get ideas from one another to perfect your final versions.

Register your CV

We spoke to CV-expert Rob Shaw from Glu Recruit, a personal recruitment agency, who recommends registering your CV online. He suggests creating profiles with online job sites. This allows potential employers to see what you’re looking for, so you don’t get bombarded with the wrong types of opportunities.

Sites like Indeed, Reed and CV Library offer the ability to create these profiles, and potential employers can reach out to you if they think you’ll suit their roles.

How to make the most of your job hunt

Get on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is packed full of professionals who could be a potential future employer. The site is dedicated to the professional market, and with over 600+ million people on the site, you’re likely to make some great connections

It’s likely that, when you apply for a job, the person recruiting for the position will check out your LinkedIn profile, offering you another chance to show yourself off even more than on your CV. This gives you a second chance to put your personality in front of your potential employer. So, use it regularly to share things that interest you, comment on relevant posts, and connect with people in your industry.

Work with recruiters

It’s a recruiter’s job (literally) to help you find your next workplace. They work by matching candidates to job vacancies, and directly working with companies to fill their open roles. So, by registering with a recruitment agency and connecting with one of their team, you’re more likely to find your dream job.

Registering with recruiters is absolutely free, and you’ll be given personal advice on what kind of jobs are out there. They’ll get to know you and your preferences, and have a library of jobs in your area to match you with. Plus, they can give you advice on how to adapt your CV.

Tailor your CV to the role

It’s important to tailor your CV to whichever role you’re applying to. This way, you’ll give yourself the best chance of securing the job. 

If your CV isn’t personal, the employer will be able to tell. They’ll want to recruit someone who really wants to role, and not someone who’s sending the same CV to dozens of employers all at once.

Pay attention to what the company is looking for in the job description, and make sure you’ve addressed the majority of these. Simply changing some wording here or there can make a big difference.

It’ll take more time to adapt your CV to each role, but it’ll be worth it in the long run, and help you to land more interviews.

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