Using your experiences to write a great CV

Kieran Corcoran explains how to mine CV gold from your interests

It doesn't take much research to realise that there's no simple formula to turn yourself into the perfect graduate job applicant. While academic prowess is a given, it's only the first step.

Recruiters are looking for the proactive, the team players, the leaders. Luckily, there are many ways to demonstrate these traits by turning a wily eye to the things you do in your everyday university life.

The message from the graduate recruitment community is reassuringly clear - you can prove yourself with an almost endless spread of activities. Jessica Booker, a recruitment manager at law firm Freshfields tells us: "Many firms won't be concerned about what activities you're involved in. They're far more interested in the reasons you've got involved in those activities and the skills they've helped you to develop.

"Recruiters are looking for team-working, strong communication skills, ability to organise your time effectively, challenging yourself, investigating something thoroughly, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone and doing something to the best of your ability - as well as your general enthusiasm and interest."

So, all extracurricular activities are valuable as long as you can relate them to what you can offer in the workplace. To help you start showing yourself off, we've run through some of our readers' most popular pursuits, and where they might take you in the business world...

University politician

Whether you're in a party political group, a debating society or your students' union, you'll be used to public speaking and having your ideas interrogated.

If you've been elected to a position then you know how to win people over and what it's like to represent the members of your union or society.

Dealing with high-profile speakers, and maybe even sparring with them in the occasional debate or Q&A session, puts you in a good position to deal with important clients in the professional world, too.

Where next?

With your debating skills and experience representing people, you'd be a great lawyer.

Student journalist

The noble pursuit of hackery makes you a solid asset in the workplace. Your ability to find information, select your facts and write concisely are applicable to any research-heavy role.

If you make it on to your paper's editorial team, then not only will you get the chance to work in a dynamic group and hone your decision-making, you'll also sharpen up your management skills by leading a team.

Any interactions with the world beyond your university bubble - calls for comment from experts, organising interviews with PRs and arranging advertising - also help get you used to a business environment and cultivate your professional persona.

Where next?

Life as a research analyst in banking would let you put your skills to good use.


The number of City firms that sponsor university sports team should hint that this is a great route to follow.

The dedication and rigours of training show someone with the graft to put in serious hours at a major bank or City firm. You'll have teamwork sorted too.

The competitive edge and emphasis on results that comes from being in a sports team will also mean you'll fit right in to the fast-paced environment at City firms.

Where next?

You're dedicated, driven and know how it feels to win big. How about being an investment banker?

Drama queen

Dreams of the stage and rapturous applause might seem a long way from traditional career paths, but you actor types have a lot to offer.

Playing your part well takes confidence and dedication, and these attributes are very applicable to business - it's no coincidence that a lot of well-known businesspeople have a touch of the theatrical about them.

And as well as being confident in yourself, rehearsing and performing with your co-stars is exactly the sort of teamwork that's a vital part of being involved in almost any business.

If you've ever done time as a director or producer, then chances are you can spot a business opportunity, manage finances and deliver a product - exactly what City firms and their clients do every single day.

Where next?

Your confidence and ability to understand people means you'd do well at a consultancy firm.

Part-time worker

It's often undervalued by students, but spending your free time behind a bar, in a shop or as a club promoter has a lot to be said for it.

Having a part-time job demonstrates a commercial drive, the ability to turn up on time and put in the hours and, more than likely, customer service experience that easily translates to dealing with clients.

A bit of worldly experience outside of your university environment also counts for a lot, and you'll seem more of a professional than your peers.

Where next?

It'll depend on exactly what you do, but if your people skills are up to scratch and you're used to dealing with money, then professional services could be the way to go.

Business/finance/law society

You hardly need us to tell you that this is a good idea. Not only does it show a direct interest in the kind of work City firms do, the great connections these kinds of societies tend to have means you'll be making great contacts within your industry of choice.

There are also plenty of opportunities for honing "soft" skills by taking a leading role in your society's committee and organising their events, all while learning about your dream career.

Where next?

Your extra knowledge will give you a great head start in whatever sector your society specialises in.