As a graduate, you might not always have lots of experience to add to your CV, especially when applying for your first job straight after finishing your education. It’s a common dilemma faced by nearly everyone at least once in their life. How do you get your foot in the door? How do you stand out in a stack of applications when you don’t feel you have much of an edge?
Employees know that graduates won’t have 15 years of industry experience, but this doesn’t always mean they won’t offer an interview. Show them potential and they might believe that you will grow. In this situation, you have to work with what you’ve got. If you have a list of interests and achievements from your time in education, however insignificant they may seem, you can include them on your CV. The key is knowing how.
First, have you created any income streams?
Online and freelance work is evidence that you can work independently and find solutions to support your own education. Even small streams of income show a self-starter attitude. You can include any small business ventures on your CV along with full or part-time work experience.
Even unusual income streams should be included, especially if they are shown relevant to the job. This is the 21st century, and there a lot of ingenious ways to make money. There are millionaire sports stars, and poker players like Daniel Negreanu take home millions in tournament winnings. If you are successful in sports or gaming, write it in your CV.
The trick is to make sure everything you talk about on your CV is achievement-focused. Don’t just say that you play sports or poker, talk about your impact on the game — events you have won and ways that you helped the team win. Emphasize skills that you learned, such as patience and the ability to understand people, or focus and teamwork skills. Quantify everything. If you run a small SEO business, talk about the percentages of increased organic traffic or conversions that you achieved for your clients. For example, ‘The company increased client traffic by 50 percent and sales orders by 20 percent.’
It’s debatable whether you should include hobbies on your CV. Whether you do or not may depend on how much relevant experience you have to discuss, and the function of the job. Usually, graduates can discuss hobbies when applying for entry-level jobs, though this should always be done tactfully, achievement-based and relevant to the position. Industry-specific hobbies carry more weight than generic ones. For example, crafts and modelling are worth mentioning when applying for construction or engineering jobs, computer programming is ideal for IT-related jobs and martial arts is worth mentioning if you trying to get into the police academy or a security firm.
Again, remember to quantify your achievements and relate your hobbies to the job, either directly or through the skill-set. For example, ‘Achieved a black belt in karate, giving the necessary physical fitness and technique for self-defence on the job.’
Sometimes, hobbies are worth mentioning if they can be related to the job. If you play for a sports team, this could be an example of teamwork. Mental strategy games like poker could demonstrate focus, mathematical prowess and the ability to plan. A travel trip in which you helped in another country shows community spirit, teamwork and ingenuity and the ability to thrive in a new and challenging environment (drinking on a beach in Thailand, not so much!).
Even being a social media influencer is valuable in some industries these days, so write it down if you have thousands of followers — especially if they follow you as an authority within a niche.
The only hobbies you shouldn’t mention are those that have no value in the working environment. ‘Socialising’ and ‘watching films’ rarely catch an employer’s attention, unless of course, you are applying for a media job. You should also never lie or exaggerate your achievements, never talk about your personal life and never include outdated or irrelevant information. Apart from that, it all depends on what you are applying for and how much experience you have to put on your application. Hobbies and unusual achievements can give your CV the boost that it needs immediately after graduation. Good luck on the job hunt!