Which common errors are holding you back from completing a successful job search?
Being unable to distinguish the difference between a skill-based resume and an academic CV is where most grad students first get in trouble, says Kara Renaud, Brock University’s resource coordinator and faculty liaison for career services.
Very often I may be asked by students to meet with them because they are unsuccessful in getting an interviews whatsoever, and I think a contributor to that misfortune is that CVs are being submitted to employers who really are looking for skill-based resumes. So, in a CV you’re highlighting your academic achievements – listing courses, degrees or titles of publications or things like that. Yes, great achievements, but really its not speaking the right language to the employer. So it means a lot to perhaps faculty and senior administration within an academic institution. But outside of that, it is a foreign language. It’s not really telling them “well, what can you do for me?”
So, a lot of times it is about making sure that the document, the resume, is tailored to each individual job and to each employer. And that you’re not submitting a three, four, six or 10 page CV for an employer who is really looking for a one or two page skill-based resume. That is probably one of the number one issues that we see. And the same thing goes for communicating skills and experiences in a job interview. Time and time again, graduate students will go for job interviews for opportunities outside of the institution, and really have a hard time answering the questions that the employer is asking. They’re looking for stories that would provide that evidence that they have the skills, that they have the abilities, and the drive and the motivation and all of those key skills that I talked about earlier, to do the job that they are trying to fill.
I think its important to utilize your university career centre. I think in many cases it is an underutilized service, not even just for graduate students, but for students in general. The people working in those centres have the skills and the aptitude for really wanting to help students succeed with their future career goals. Whether that’s trying to identify what those are, and exploring options, helping students understand their skills, their interests, their values, and what that could mean in terms of translation to an occupation. Just all about getting prepared for the world of work. So making sure that the CV is in place and is used appropriately. That a resume is also developed. That you know how to successfully find work…And that’s something that all career centres have available for students.