Moving into the professional workforce as a student or recent graduate is an exciting time. After spending years studying and preparing yourself to step into your chosen profession, you are finally ready to make the leap; but how do you go about landing that dream job or internship?
Although knowing how to write a student CV is important, it’s not the only thing to consider when it comes to taking your first step. Just like every product, service and company have a brand, we as professionals do too. Our personal brand is a reflection of our attitudes, values and morals, and it is what helps us shape our careers. Whether you are seeking full-time employment or an internship, you will need to develop your brand as a professional.
When looking to hire or place someone into an internship programme, employers are assessing who you are as a person and what drives you. Are you focused and hard working? Do you possess the key skills and abilities to excel within a particular role? Internships are an investment and as such, if you are selected to join a graduate scheme, so are you, which is why it’s important to sell yourself as a valuable asset.
So, how do you build your brand? Through a well-written CV, cover letter and carefully constructed social media profiles.
What is your brand?
Before you can begin to build your brand through a CV, it’s important to determine your unique selling points (USPs). These are the things that make you a top candidate for a position. As a student or recent graduate your USPs are likely to be your soft skills.
Soft skills, also called transferable skills, are skills that can be applied across various aspects of your life, both professionally and personally. These skills, are those you might pick up through school activities, your personal hobbies, participating in sport or even from your family.
Key skills to build your brand
Working in teams is often a very significant factor for many roles. The ability to work well within a team is especially important in roles where you are required to collaborate with your colleagues to deliver set projects. If you have had a part-time job, then your experiences working as part of a team can be used as examples of your ability to work well with others. If you have not worked in any kind of employment, think about the team sports or school projects you have participated in and the skills you have gained from these experiences when it comes to working with other people.
In a workplace, regardless of your position in the team, a time will come where you will need to take the lead. Whether that be to complete a simple task, an aspect of a project or to ensure an entire project runs to schedule. Again, if you have worked in a part-time job and have had to step up in your manager’s absence or are regularly set as a shift manager, think about exactly what you have learned and draw out the key abilities you have developed as a result.
Working to a timeline
Another key life skill that is also vital for success in the workplace. Having the confidence to speak in front of and present ideas or debate in front of a crowd is seen as a very beneficial skill in the office. You might be needed to create a presentation or share detailed progress on your projects via email.
Your written communication skills can include your competency in writing or ability to construct professional emails. In school, you are required to write all the time and on social media you are posting, and communicating constantly; therefore this can demonstrate that you have plenty of written communication experience. The language you use, your skills in grammar and spelling as well as creativity in writing content, are all important capabilities in the workplace.
Constructing professional emails
Social media posts and private messaging
Verbal communication refers to your ability to effectively talk to other people or present to an audience clearly and confidently. In almost all forms of employment, your verbal communication skills are hugely important; getting across an idea in this way is very different to presenting it in a document, over email or via instant message.
Voicing thoughts and ideas in a group
For you to be an effective communicator, listening is key. There is a big difference between hearing what someone says and actually listening to build understanding. Employers want to know that you truly listen so they can trust that you will be able to receive instructions then go away to deliver.
This is a key skill, not only for the workplace but for everyday life. Being organised means you are able to effectively manage your workload, will be on time for work and are likely to produce timely, quality results. Are you someone who schedules their study and starts assignments early to be sure you have plenty of time to research, produce and edit your work leaving plenty of time to submit? Then you’re (very) organised. Wherever you developed these skills and how you use them to manage your personal, work or study plans can be used as examples of your capabilities.
Adaptable and flexible
Efficient time management
As a student, you are likely to be very tech savvy which is an extremely positive attribute in this increasingly digital-focused world. Your understanding and frequent use of technology means you naturally have skills many employers seek. Further to this, any unique or more specific tech skills that you have picked up in school, other training or through your own personal interest are an added bonus.
In many roles, the ability to effectively research topics, fact check, gather information and build a solid foundation of understanding from first or second-hand research is a very beneficial skill. During school or university, you will have been required to conduct research to complete projects and study for assessments. Recognise the skills you developed when you were conducting this research and use examples to show how they can be used in your role.
Providing solutions based on research
The ability to solve problems and offer effective solutions is a great workplace skill. Each day at work will be different, new challenges will arise and new solutions will be required to solve them. Individuals who can develop creative solutions to everyday issues or specific projects make highly valuable employees.
In a workplace, resilience is essential. Being able to receive constructive feedback or criticism without it impacting your work flow or drive is a positive trait. By not letting any setbacks upset you personally, you enable yourself to grow and improve; it’s how we learn.
Drive and initiative
Your drive for success and the initiative you take to get there highlight to an employer your work ethics as an employee. If you are someone who works hard for what you want and are able to identify what needs to be done in order to meet your goals, be sure you make this known to a potential employer.
These are a few of the many skills you may have developed throughout your life. Take the time to sit down and think about things you are good at, the skills that you have gained and how they can be applied to the workplace, and the particular role you are applying for.
Now that you have determined what makes you a top candidate, it’s time to build your brand. Start by crafting a tailored CV following our top tips in ‘Build your brand: how to write a student CV’.