Organisation, Organisation, Organisation
I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of reading CV articles.
They all say the same bloody thing! “Get some experience”, “join a society”, “volunteer in the community”… That’s all well and good, I really appreciate the advice, but where on earth am I supposed to find the time to do all of these supposedly beneficial things whilst trying to complete a degree and work a part time job because I’m a poor student?!
Running myself into the ground from pure exhaustion is certainly not beneficial, I can assure you that. And, if like me, you’re currently in the midst of applying for grad jobs, it feels a little too late to be doing any of those things. I want advice now, action now.
I am a self-confessed organisation freak. I get it from my mum; her OCD tendencies are unbelievable (exhibit a: whenever the kitchen tap is on, she will immediately dry the sink with a tea towel afterwards). And while this might be slightly over the top and seem irrelevant to the process of job applications, organisation is key.
When applying for grad jobs, it is most likely you’ve narrowed down the field or industry you want to work in and the roles you’re applying for are all very similar. While I’m not suggesting you churn out the exact same CV and cover letter for every job application, it is likely there will be a lot of crossover in what you choose to include. With more and more employers requiring tailored CV’s, organising your CV and cover letter is more crucial than ever. Plus, it will half the time you spend on each application, allowing you to apply for more jobs or take a well earned nap.
The best thing to do – write a list of every job, internship, work experience, achievement, award and skill you possess. Anything that seems even remotely relevant, write it down. It’s likely the mid-application stress will cause you to forget things that should be included and help you stand out. When writing your CV and cover letter, consult your list and see what is appropriate to include. For example, if a job stresses strong leadership skills are necessary, definitely mention you were captain of the hockey team or led a team in organising a charity fashion show. However, this information might not always be top of the priority list and while it makes you look good, you could be sacrificing something else from the list appearing on your CV in an effort to keep it to two pages.
In my opinion, I want to apply for as many jobs as possible. This is for two reasons: I don’t want to limit myself by only applying for the specific jobs that are exactly what I want to do when I could apply for related jobs that might lead into exactly what I want to do with a few years of experience, and I figured the more jobs I apply for the higher my chance is of actually getting one. But more the first reason.
When it comes to keeping track of all the jobs I want to apply for, I created a spreadsheet to organise myself. Composed of the job title, the company, the application closing date and a link to the job advert, I have all the information I need for the application process in one place. And to make sure I don’t miss a deadline, I’ve arranged the jobs by date, the most recent closing date at the top of the list. And for added measure, I’ve colour coded the jobs based on the appeal of the role description.
Green is for jobs that really appeal to me, jobs I can clearly picture myself doing. In highlighting these jobs, I can remind myself to prioritise applying, ensuring I dedicate time to the application process and produce what is (hopefully) a good application. Orange is for jobs that I am quite interested in and I think I could be good at, but aren’t necessarily precisely what I want to do for the rest of my life. While I will schedule time to hone my CV and cover letter for these jobs, they are not as high a priority as jobs colour coded green. Finally, jobs in pink are jobs I would like to apply to, but will come second to any other work I need to do. Similarly, I wouldn’t be devastated if I weren’t to receive an offer for these jobs.
I know it seems a little ridiculous. But in order to send out the best possible CV and cover letter, writing them in a calm and organised manner will greatly increase the likelihood of this happening. Before Christmas, I was rushing to send out applications, reaching a stress level that resulted in me losing enthusiasm and submitting half-arsed applications. Take a little time to straighten things out, not just on the screen in front of you but also in your head.
I truly believe, organisation is the key to success. And as they say, it’s all about organisation, organisation, organisation!
Or is it; location, location, location?