This is terrible advice for your CV, please ignore it

Apr 28, 2017

This week, journalist Jenni Russell debunked the views of two experts that parents should worry less over their children getting a graduate job as terrible advice for your CV.

Writing for The Times, she said advice that parents should allow their children more slack “might be good for the soul” but is “extremely bad news for the CV”.

As someone who receives the poor souls who come out at the other end of university bruised and wide-eyed once the dawning realisation of how poorly equipped they are to get a good job hits them, I can only agree.

Why advice not to be concerned with getting a graduate job is poor CV advice

For your convenience, here’s the rationale from Jenni Russell’s article (find the link at the end) on why advice not to concern yourself with getting a graduate level job is bad advice for your CV:

  1. Advice that parents should be less occupied with whether a university course will lead to a graduate job is flawed and places young people at a disadvantage.
  2. It is true that education should be more than just about grades and that one should embrace the journey of discovery.
  3. While ideal, however, these ideas are extremely dangerous unless you have comfortable, achieving, confident parents who can bail you out when you fall on your face (i.e. you can’t get on the property ladder because you can’t get a decent job to get the mortgage you need).
  4. This advice doesn’t work in a graduate marketplace where tough competition is the raw reality.
  5. So, it’s good for your soul, but very bad news for your CV.
  6. The advantaged know this, and that’s why they push their children to get good degrees, and why their children get the better jobs.
  7. The advantaged also know you need to start early because small wins add up throughout your school and university years.
  8. The advantaged also know that a degree from some universities is worth a lot more than a degree from others – something working class parents tend to overlook.
  9. Therefore, if you follow this ‘expert’ advice and slack off, you’ll fall increasingly further behind and find it harder to compete for a graduate job.
  10. You should ignore this advice if you want to get ahead.

No experience on your CV, no graduate job

Russell also mentions research I’ve often quoted, that more than 30 per cent of the UK’s top employers say they are unlikely to employ you if have no work experience. You need to develop your skills and experience by making sure you have a good few internships under you belt – well before you even leave university.

This means that yes, university should not be all about grades, but also, neither can it be a time of coasting or slacking off. As Russell pointed out, “in banking, [for example] almost 80 per cent of graduate jobs go to interns”.  That means if you apply for a banking job after you’ve left university without having already done an internship, it’s too late.

You need to start building your experience in the job market long before you leave university. This has become the norm.

Then, and only then, are you positioned to get that high-flying management job as soon as you step out of university which, as Russell says, builds the confidence, experience and contacts you need to move ahead quickly.

So, here’s what you should do if you are a young person still at university: start building a better story for your CV. Think about what employers want and begin to equip yourself with those skills. Get those skills from internships, voluntary opportunities and other relevant work experience. Start networking and planning for your future now.

Here’s Jenni Russell’s article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chilled-out-students-let-the-privileged-win-lrdbjmb9l.

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