I transferred universities for many reasons, but predominantly, I wanted to take part in the placement scheme Bournemouth University offer. Undertaking a minimum of a forty week placement is just the thing missing from many graduates’ CVs. An argument often presented is what use is the degree without the experience to apply it too, and then there’s the vicious circle of finding your first placement with no experience.
So how do you fix that? How do you make yourself the person your ideal organisation wants to hire? James Caan, most popularly known for his appearance on Dragon’s Den has published a book, Get the job you really want. “It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude.”
Creating the perfect CV
Often the first impression any company will ever see from you, so it needs to be your absolute best. This is something Bournemouth University are definitely good at; running CV workshops and checking your CV with detailed feedback.
- Your CV should be absolutely no more than two pages in length.
- We’re advised to keep your typeface in size 11.
- Relevant Employment Experience should appear first.
- No colour.
- NO SPELLING MISTAKES OR GRAMMAR – this may be the most important. Particularly with industries like PR, your writing skills need to be to a high quality so this is your chance to impress. Check, double check and check again.
- Research the company’s recruitment process, when I did this for the organisation I want to work for, I found that they’re not a fan of personal statements. Your CV should be presented for the company you want and apply to, not a standard template you resend.
- Research the company. Know their clients, their brands, their recent campaigns and recent coverage.
- Remember they may be researching you too. The internet is a wonderful thing, but it does work two ways.
- Preparation – whether the organisation in question has asked you for specific preparation or not, you need to be prepared for anything. In a recent interview, I was given four products and told to write a press release in ten minutes.
- Interview wear – quite simply, it’s better to look too smart than not smart enough. Even if you know they have a smart-casual policy, you haven’t been hired yet – you still need to impress.
- Ask questions; ask how many people they’re interviewing, where the recruitment process goes from here on in, what aspects of their job do they enjoy the most. The interview is not just for their benefit, you need to decide whether this company is right for you. Asking questions will also make you appear more interested in the role and pro-active.
- Practice. With friends, family or online. There are many sites that give example interview questions and questions you should ask back.
Again, something I can’t fault Bournemouth University for. They organised a Meet the Fourth Years afternoon for us to hear about their placements, applying for placements and ask them questions. This has been extremely beneficial in my applications this year and I’d recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to speak with other students returning from their placement year. The one thing that really stuck was don’t wait for the applications to come through the university, if you know where you want to be, contact them yourself. This will show your enthusiasm and you to be pro-active. This also gives you the edge over any competition from your classmates also wanting to apply but waiting.
And my personal favourite, and possibly the most important:
Every company and professional you speak to always enforces the fact that work experience will make or break your application. As good as the degree at Bournemouth University is, the sole foundation of my Public Relations knowledge came from completing work experience, firstly at AFC Bournemouth. Witnessing the chaos from behind the scenes of a football club first-hand is certainly something you do not forget and I’m not going to pretend I didn’t take it purely to boost my CV and get an insight to PR in-house, but what I learnt in those five months set me up for the career ahead of me and it even made the theoretical side of my coursework easier to understand.
Why am I glad I got involved in the work experience Bournemouth could offer me?
Every thought I had on my career and lifestyle, every gut reaction I ever had was all confirmed to me in that initial placement. That drive, that passion and that commitment to your brand, client or organisation is what Public Relations is about, and ultimately why it’s an industry I know I want to be involved in. Once you’ve had a taste for that one thing you really want, you learn exactly where you want to be and I now know I’ve never wanted anything more in my life and I will do everything it takes to make sure I succeed. That’s one thing University cannot instil in you.