Career Advice

WHAT IS CAREER?
There is no single definition for the term “career”, however for the sake of our explanations, we will narrow it down to the key words in the term.
A career is an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life time or working age mainly with the aim of making progress and consequently a means of living. It can also be defined as a path, direction, vocation or profession chosen as one’s lifetime work. 

You may be an artiste, singer, IT professional, business developer, medical doctor, engineer, architect etc. The profession you choose for yourself as a lifetime work is your career. 

Do You need a College Degree to succeed in your Career?

The answer to this question depends on your overall career goal. haven said that, let us not forget that education itself educates the human mind beyond the benefits of a career alone. Let us look at this in full.

Depending on the professional you intend to build your career in, chasing your dreams can happen with or without a university degree, but getting a good degree will immensely make things far easier for you with numerous opportunities to explore. A degree will help you thrive within your competitors and peers.  It will give you the confidence to stand out or operate confidently when in the midst of other highly qualified competitors. If you don’t have a college degree, you may fall out when placed in a pool of highly diversified and qualified individuals with great talent due to low self esteem.

Having a degree can improve the chances of employment. Although a degree does not guarantee success, it does improve chances of getting noticed. This can be a good stepping stone to success. Also if you need to work and save some money before starting a company, then a college degree will get you a higher paying job than the latter.

A literate society is a rich society. Wealth most times flows in the direction where there is quest for knowledge. A university degree can help boost the literacy rate of an individual, community, country and beyond;  and these therefore helps with economic growth. Most of the richest countries in the world are also top in education, this is in sharp contrast to the poorest countries in the world. The main reason for poverty in some of the poorest countries of the world is lack of education, skills and work experience. Countries in Africa often lack the resources to provide proper education and this has affected the standard of living.

The philosopher Plato once said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life”. Degrees may not be essential for success but they surely make it easier.

Let us briefly look at two rich countries with their literacy level by university degree.

Here is the United States of America which has about 4800 colleges and universities (2018 report). The USA is by far the richest and most advanced country in the world.

Let us also look at Germany which has over 380 highly equipped universities and other hundreds of colleges. Germany is the largest  economy in Europe and one of the highly educated countries in the world.
 

Creating a professional CV and cover letter can be a tricky and a stressful task, especially if you have litthe or no work experience or a gap in your work history. For the best chance of securing a job interview, target your CV and cover letter to the company and job that you’re applying for and take a look at our example CVs and cover letter advice

 

What is a CV?

A CV (curriculum vitae) allows you to summarise your education, skills and experience, selling yourself to employers.

In the USA and Canada it’s known as a résumé, and tends to be a more concise document.

The first opportunity to tell an employer what you can do, your CV is a vital part of your job hunt

How long should a CV be?

A standard CV in the UK should be no longer than two sides of A4.

Only include the main facts; if your CV is just one page, that’s fine, as employers only want to read relevant information. Some medical or academic Cvs may be longer depending on your experience.

What to include in a CV

  • Contact details – Include your full name, home address, mobile number and email address. You do not need to include your date of birth or a photograph unless you’re applying for an acting or modelling job.
  • Profile – Placed at the beginning of the CV, a profile is a concise statement that highlights your key attributes or reasons for deciding to work in a particular field. Pick out a few relevant achievements and skills, while clearly articulating your career aims. It must focus on the sector you’re applying to, as your cover letter will be job-specific. You should keep it short and snappy – 100 words is the perfect length.
  • Education – List and date all previous education, including professional qualifications, placing the most recent first.
  • Work experience – List your experience in reverse chronological order, making sure that anything you mention is relevant to the job you’re applying for. If you have plenty of relevant work experience, this section should come before education.
  • Skills and achievements – This is where you talk about the foreign languages you speak and the IT packages you can competently use. Whatever you list should be relevant to the job and not over-exaggerated, as you’ll need to back up your claims at interview. If you have got lots of relevant experience you should do a skills-based CV.
  • Interests – Simply writing ‘socialising, going to the cinema and reading’ isn’t going to catch the attention of the recruiter. However, when relevant to the job, your interests can provide a more rounded picture of you and give you something to talk about at interview. Examples include writing your own blog if you want to be a journalist, or being part of a drama group if you’re looking to get into sales.
  • References – You don’t need to provide the names of references at this stage. You also don’t need to say ‘references available upon request’ as most employers would assume this to be the case.

CV format

  • Avoid fonts such as Comic Sans. Instead, choose something more professional such as size-10 Arial.
  • List everything in reverse chronological order so the recruiter sees your most impressive and recent achievements first.
  • Keep it concise and easy to read by using clear spacing and bullet points. This type of CV layout allows employers to skim your CV and quickly pick out the important information.
  • If you’re posting your CV, go with white A4 paper. Only print on one side and don’t fold your CV – you don’t want it to arrive creased.

How to write a good CV

  1. Use active verbs wherever possible. For example, you could include words like ‘created’, ‘analysed’ and ‘devised’ to present yourself as a person who shows initiative.
  2. There should be no spelling or grammar mistakes in your CV. Use a spell checker and enlist a second pair of eyes to check over it.
  3. Avoid using generic phrases such as ‘team player’, ‘hardworking’ and ‘multitasker’. Instead, provide real-life examples that demonstrate all of these skills.
  4. Take a look at the company’s website, local press and the job advert to make sure that your CV is targeted to the role and employer.
  5. Decide whether the chronological, skills-based or academic CV is right for you.
  6. Don’t put the term ‘curriculum vitae’ at the top of the page.
  7. Provide a professional-sounding email address.
  8. Never lie or exaggerate on your CV or job application. Not only will you demonstrate your dishonesty to a potential employer, but there can be serious consequences too. For example, altering your degree grade from a 2:2 to a 2:1 is classed as degree fraud and can result in a prison sentence.
  9. If you’re posting your CV online don’t include your home address, as you could be targeted by fraudsters.
  10. You should always include a cover letter unless the employer states otherwise. It will enable you to personalise your application to the job. You can draw attention to a particular part of your CV, disclose a disability or clarify gaps in your work history.

Get help with your CV

If you’re a student or recent graduate then you can get professional CV advice from your university careers and employability service.