How Your Degree Can Help Your CV
The majority of us go to university in the hopes of getting a good job afterwards: but when you graduate, you might find that your degree doesn’t necessarily lead straight into a career.
While some courses – like dentistry or law – might have a more obvious end job, non-vocational courses like Psychology and History may be harder to pin down to a specific career.
There are also those who might decide they want to do something that’s entirely different from their degree – but this doesn’t mean your studies are wasted.
Studying for a degree means you have the skills that every employer is looking for – the trick is knowing how to demonstrate this. These are the ways your degree can help your CV.
Break your degree into skills
A degree course is usually broken down into a number of modules for each year you study, and these modules can often cover a range of different areas.
When applying for a job, it’s well worth reflecting back on the different module titles you undertook at university, and working out if any are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Look to see if any themes or key content align with the interests of the company or the role specification you’re applying for.
By doing this, you can show you have prior knowledge and an understanding of topics or skills that may just win your potential employer over. If a module is particularly relevant, you can even highlight it on your CV as part of your ‘education history’.
So, you’ve just rolled out of university with an English degree, but now you want a career in journalism. Surely you need a Journalism degree for that, right? Not necessarily.
Studying English teaches you different skills, such as research, communication and creativity, which are all skills that a journalist would also need.
The Guardian emphasises the importance of pushing your own set of unique skills, learned from your degree, in helping you to get a job. Whatever the degree you have, you’ll have built up a number of abilities that you can promote on your CV.
From analytical skills from studying History to being good with numbers after three years of Mathematics, these skills can become your unique selling points to employers, so make sure you highlight them on your CV.
The broader skills
Specific skills from your degree are great, but having been to university at all is something that you can really use to promote your abilities. Every single course will require you to be do certain things that you can turn into winning attributes for your CV.
If you met all your coursework deadlines, this can be seen as good organisational skills. If you turned up to all your lectures on time, this means you’ve got good time-keeping skills. If you ever had to do a group project, you’ll have developing your teamwork skill, and if you had to get that team in order (especially if someone wasn’t pulling their weight), you’ve got leadership skills.
These are all skills that every company wants from their staff, meaning you’re already well on the way to being their perfect employee.
Show your grade
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s also something people often overlook. Make sure that your CV shows that you’ve got a degree, including what it’s in and the classification (particularly if you did well).
Having completed a degree is an accomplishment, no matter what the end result was, so it’s definitely not something to be hidden away. Having been able to finish a degree shows employers that you’re capable and motivated enough to complete a university course, which will make you a viable job candidate by itself.
Look at your extra-curricular activities
So, this isn’t strictly related to your degree – but the chances are that, while at university, you’ll have done more than just study. These extra-curricular activities can be just as important as a degree on your CV, so make sure you include them.
If you joined (or even better, ran) any societies, highlight this and the skills you learned by doing so. If you were in a sports team, talk about your teamwork skills. If you had a part-time in the student union, use this as part of your past work experience.
Even if you didn’t do much except make lots of friends, place this on your CV as showing your exceptional ‘interpersonal’ skills. Plus, by showing you were able to do these activities alongside your studies, you’ll demonstrate that you can multitask and develop in different areas, which employers will love.
University boils down to much more than just a degree title: there’s numerous skills, abilities and activities involved, which can all make valuable additions to your CV. Be sure to make your CV work for you by shining a spotlight on it and all it’s components: your job prospects will thank you for it!
Shannon Carey is a copywriter and blogger at The Usual Shannanigans, who enjoys writing about everything from Game of Thrones to feminism.