Outline:Writing your first CV: When the time comes to make the first CV, after years of academic studies, most students are faced with a common problem: they have no work experience. This is increasingly important in order to get a job and it’s an important factor on the employer’s preference for a candidate who has experience over another that does not. Thus, one of the main things that the students put on their CV when they have no professional experience, are the university clubs and the respective activities they attended during their academic life, thinking that this could give them an advantage over the other candidates who are in the same situation, but do not have these extra activities. Moreover, even the students who have some work experience, whether it be little or much, also insert the university clubs in their CV with the hope that it will help them get a job.
They don’t care
In fact, companies, especially large enterprises and multinational companies, do not care at all for the students who attended various university clubs or who participated in multiple extracurricular activities of their university. They do not consider these details when looking for their ideal candidate.
As large companies have several jobs and hire several employees at the same time, the human resources department does not waste much time analyzing the numerous CVs it receives to the various job opportunities they may have, because, as they say, time is money. What they’re really interested in the first phase of recruitment is whether candidates have the required experience or the training relevant for the position offered and the human resources department does not seek further details in the CV.
So if students have no experience or graduation in the area that is requested, they’re quickly discarded. Having the information of university clubs and extra activities in the CV will not mean anything to the companies, nor will be given due attention to it. In fact, companies do not care if students lose valuable study time or worked a lot to help these campus clubs.
More of the same
Nowadays, access to clubs and extracurricular activities of universities is increasing. The information of these events is easily shared and disseminated using the various online social networks. So if accessibility to clubs and university activities is so easy, any student can participate.
Thus, students who put the same activities and the same events in their CV, do not have information that really stand out from the rest, although they may think so. In professional terms, there is no benefit in providing time and effort with numerous university clubs to have greater success with the employer.
Process of recruiting
What the vast majority of companies is looking for is not the activities of academic clubs, but what is in the rest of the CV. For most jobs, the recruitment process is always based on professional experience in the desired area, years of experience intended, the intended area of education, the university attended and the final grade obtained.
If you meet the necessary requirements, an interview will be made, whose issues vary according to the type, area of intervention and the size of the company: with large companies there is often a series of formal interviews to test the ability to think for yourself and for small companies, the interview turns out to be more informal to see if the candidate fits the company. For smaller companies, the university groups help to understand the candidate’s personality but do not have as much importance as the professional experience, graduation and the interview’s performance.
Of course it helps to have done something out of the class period, since the absence of any activity will hurt the candidate because interviewers can see him as antisocial. But these are just details. The key is to have a full CV of demanding activities but that really have importance to what is required. However, other factors are most important to be noticed, as mentioned above, since they have greater weight in the equation to pick up a candidate or not.
What can be done
Most companies like to see relevant work experience, so it is important for students to try and do internships or jobs during the summer holidays. It is thus possible, for students to find their first job through personal and business contacts, and thus, once again, university clubs do not enter into the equation. The responsibilities that they have in an academic club will have a small role when applying for a job and, moreover, doing many things at the same time will not allow an advantage over others. The best thing to do during the academic life will be to join a group of a few activities but that really matter and allow being around different people with different experiences to create new relationships and contacts, a network.
There’s no need to make a large number of extracurricular activities and no need to lose too much time with the obligations of the academic club since the main purpose is the fun and contact with others. Therefore, anyone should be part of a university club only to increase their personal experience rather than planning to get a job with it. Being part of a university group that is really worth it, students can develop certain activities and events that will help to attract the interest of companies. One of the main things that provides added value to their CVs will be the development of a fundraising solidarity funds or other actions that are able to raise a large sum of money, organize events and conferences with renowned speakers and organizing activities and events regional or national level. Moreover, to achieve a CV that stands out from the others, it is essential to invest in differentiating or creative projects and have experience in the CV that nobody else has.
One must realize that nowadays, employers seek employees with knowledge and expertise that can contribute with something new and creative to the company. Creativity turns out to be the keyword for success but we must take it into account not only when making the CV but when seeking new opportunities to improve professional and personal life.
Author: Isa Rafael
BSc in Political Sciences (Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, ISCSP, Lisbon University) and currently attending postgraduate studies in Digital Strategic Communication at the same university.