4 Things That Make You More Employable In 2017

If you’re feeling like your CV is a bit average, and your work experience is okay but nothing special, you can hardly expect employers to get excited over it. To make you more employable, and more impressive as a candidate, you need the kind of skills and background that’s attracting managers right now.

Travel Experience

Cosmopolitan has recently published details of a Hostelworld study that found people with travel experience are perceived to have better job prospects. An impressive 82% of recruiters surveyed thought that having travel on your CV makes you more employable.

For those of you who didn’t climb Everest in your gap year, remember there’s plenty of value in smaller-scale adventures. If you completed a TEFL course and taught overseas, or you spent a year studying abroad during your degree, you can draw on those experiences and demonstrate that you’re a self-starter who isn’t afraid to be out of their comfort zone.

This applies even though your actual experience overseas might not have been a laugh a minute. Some people do struggle with the reality of being far from friends and family, and following another country’s work or education style, with potentially longer hours and fewer rights. Your CV doesn’t have to reflect this – focus on what you learned, and what you can take forward to your next job.

Digital Skills

Today’s workplace is increasingly dependent on machines and gadgets, and we’re all spending hours on our computers and smartphones every day, so everything from accounting to tourism can involve tech skills. Children are being taught to code in primary school, for goodness’ sake. If you have any digital background, make the most of it in your job applications to get ahead.

Any digital presence you have, such as a blog, a photo stream (on Flickr or Smugmug), a vlog, a website or a Twitter account, can be an asset if you share it on your CV and keep it updated. However, if you don’t want to be found, or your account is more light-hearted than serious, tighten your privacy settings and consider using a pseudonym. Keeping unprofessional content open for HR managers to find is a big mistake.

Of course, if you want a specific digital job, that’s a no-brainer these days – in fact, digital technology is Scotland’s largest growing economic sector, there’s a new Digital Knowledge Exchange programme in Leeds, and Google Academy has just launched in London. Basically, you’re in good company.

Voluntary or Charity Projects

Voluntary work will always look great on your CV, but it becomes extra important if it relates to your industry, especially if you’re targeting the type of job that has far too many applicants in the first place. As a volunteer, especially in a small organisation or charity, there will be room to take on extra responsibilities should you be interested in them.

You can easily build your skills – for example, if you want to work in events, you can volunteer to marshal, promote or organise charity events nearby. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, extra tasks might include managing other volunteers, or attending meetings with full-time staff. Being a volunteer shows future employers you’re willing to muck in and you aren’t just motivated by money, company perks or starry job titles.

Events careers aside, there’s a huge gap in public sector volunteers (working in libraries, local hospitals, and other settings), so your help could make a difference. You’ll find plenty of national and local websites listing local opportunities, or you could approach charities and local groups directly with your CV and a brief cover letter. Having made a great impression, you could secure a useful reference for jobs and internships.

A Video CV

Video CVs are becoming popular with recruiters, because they allow your future employer to see what you’re really like straight away. Though you still need to take things seriously when making a video CV, you have the chance to really sell your personality and individuality.

Practice selling yourself in short soundbites, without dropping in those clichéd CV words and phrases like ‘team player’ and ‘hard-working’. Give snappy, simple descriptions of your experience, with facts and figures backing you up wherever possible and, as the Guardian highlights, don’t use a script.

When making your video, choose the right space and background – don’t have the remains of last night’s dinner in full view, for example. Put your computer, tablet or smartphone at the best angle so you’re not looking up or down at the camera but fully facing it, with your face well lit. Dress smartly and focus on positive posture: sitting up straight (not hunched or slouching), without crossing your arms or fiddling with your pen.

Now you’ve got your digital CV ready, your voluntary work is underway, and your travel and digital skills are being put to good use, you’ve got extra ammunition for those job applications. Go get ‘em!


Polly writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency specialising in matching career starters with graduate jobs. For everything from marketing internships to graduate jobs Manchester, click here.