How to make your CV stand out after a year abroad in the UK Finding a new role after a year studying abroad in the UK doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are four easy ways to help your resume stand out to recruiters.
1. Put your education at the bottom – but your Chevening experience at the top
One of the biggest mistakes candidates make when applying for new roles is putting their education at the top of their CV.
Employers want to know you have good credentials, but that’s not the first thing they’ll be interested in when reviewing your resume—especially when they’ve got a stack of 100 more to go through right after.
Instead, they want to know what experiences and skills you have that are relevant to the role they’re hiring for.
With this in mind, move the “Education” section to the bottom of your CV, but highlight your year as a Chevening Scholar at the top, as you would with a job.
Be sure to include any extracurricular activities you have participated in. For example, have you taken over our social media channels? Chaired a networking event or university society? These are all the things you can include.
You can mention key facts about the award, for example that it is awarded by the UK government to develop international leaders and that researchers are selected based on factors such as networking ability and a clear career path.
This not only explains the gap in your CV from your degree, but highlights your skills and the experience you have gained from your Chevening award.
2. Tailor your resume for each application
Another important step in your resume checklist should be aligning your resume with the required skills listed in the job description.
Many employers now use electronic scanning systems to sift through resumes and select promising candidates, so be sure to use the specific phrases provided by the employer, as these are what the software’s decisions are based on.
Do they want Python programming language skills? Project Management Certificate? Social media management training? Be sure to use these exact words in your resume.
3. Use numbers where possible
Another way to make your resume more persuasive is to back up your claims with hard evidence wherever possible.
For example, instead of saying that you were an “effective team captain” for your college football team, try mentioning how many consecutive games your team won under your leadership. Instead of describing yourself as the “successful president” of a networking club, include exactly how many members you grew the network with. If there’s a number that can prove how good you are, make sure you use it, rather than just vaguely telling them.
You can also use numbers to highlight impressive achievements. For example, in the Chevening section you can mention that only 2-3% of applicants are accepted each year, which makes it a very important award.
4. Emphasize skills over other qualities
Finally, be as specific as you can about what you would bring to the table in this role. We already know you’re polite and a team player – that’s part of the reason we gave you the scholarship.
The hiring manager, on the other hand, will be looking for the skills you have that will help him further his organization’s goals.
Instead of saying you’re a ‘good leader’, you can break it down to specific skills, for example:
- Project management
- Communication and negotiation
Be as specific as you can about your skills – then impress them with your personality in the interview. Your Chevening award already proves that you can do it.
How to present yourself during a job interview
It’s not just what you say that affects your success in interviews. How you present yourself through body language, attire and even your handshake makes all the difference.
Job hunting can be a difficult and challenging process. It takes a lot of confidence and determination to land your dream role, as well as a lot of time spent researching the company and preparing for the steps of the interview process. So what can you do to better present yourself and maximize your chances of securing the job?
Dress for success
Before your interview, think about what clothes will be most appropriate for the environment. This generally means wearing business attire and avoiding clothes that don’t fit well or that might look flashy. Don’t choose something too tight, as it’s also important to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. Not being able to breathe properly won’t do you any favors!
Arrive on time
An interview scenario is stressful enough without adding a mad dash to make it on time. Give yourself plenty of time to find the building, find the reception and familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Delaying or cutting it off will make you look disorganized at first. Chevening alumna Wendy Phuong even advises allowing plenty of time to talk to yourself – “To ease your nerves before you step foot into the interview room, tell yourself that whatever happens next, the interview will still be a valuable learning experience for you.”
Give a proper handshake
The old classic – a firm handshake is an essential part of the first impression you make on an interviewer. According to National Geographic, handshakes are a custom that started as a sign of peace.
Try to make sure your hands are clean and dry going into the interview, no matter how nervous you are!
In general, it is best to use a moderately firm grip that shows that you are confident, but not too aggressive or overbearing. The right pressure will show your confidence and professionalism.
Remember to make eye contact
It may sound obvious, but eye contact is an important part of connecting with your interviewers. Eye contact is a sign of active listening and understanding. It shows that you are giving your interviewer your undivided attention, which in itself shows respect. It just comes naturally to some people, but for others it can be helpful to follow the 50/70 rule: Aim to make eye contact 50% of the time you’re talking and 70% of the time you’re listening.
To remain still
A common expression of nerves is fidgeting, which is both noticeable and annoying to interviewers. A survey of more than 500 hiring managers from a US-based workforce solutions company found that of the candidates they rejected for a position, over a fifth of them were consistently upset, indicating a lack of confidence and interview preparation.
It may not be possible to completely stop agitation, but you can minimize it. Try to keep your hands free. Holding a pen, wearing rings or even your watch can tempt you to start fiddling. You can also try training yourself to twirl your toes instead of your hands – it might sound silly, but it will release some nervous energy and your interviewer will be none the wiser.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t cross your arms – crossing your arms could lead the other person to feel like you’re putting up a barrier between the two of you—and that could also lead them to think that you don’t trust them or don’t want to be there.
- Switch off your phone – the last thing you need in a high pressure interview situation is your phone ringing and distracting you mid-answer. Don’t risk it, switch it off!
- And finally, remember: