Careers Fair Top Tips for Students

We recently attended the University of Bath’s Careers Fair and it was fantastic event, with lots of different businesses and opportunities for students. Having a load of recruiters together under one roof can make things a lot easier for job-hunting grads, it’s like Gradsouthwest come to life in the real world. Great opportunities and a good chance to get some exposure to different companies, to put yourself out there and make yourself known, after chatting to the recruiters at the fair we’ve put together our top tips to make sure you make the most out of your day.

To find out what our top tips are, go to Our Careers Fair Top Tips for Students and make the most of your day!


Nick Crawley



10 life-prompts for updating your CV to keep it alive – from Nick Luke at Unlocking Potential

  1. Starting or ending a job – Obvious? Yes – and important! When you start a new job, pop in your end date of your old role – it’s so much easier than rooting through old P45s! Then summarise your new job description and start date. Moving jobs is risky; people and companies do make mistakes. If the worst happens and it doesn’t work out, at least your CV will be useable, quickly
  2. Starting or achieving a qualification – Just like jobs, it’s hard to remember all the details about the qualifications you are doing. A qualification in progress is often very close to the value of a qualification completed, so make sure it goes on your CV. This habit will also force you to consider how your CV could be formatted to accommodate all these accolades!
  3. Achieving something significant at work – Often forgotten on CVs are achievements you secure whilst working. If you have made something positive happen, consider including what and when e.g. ’won the 2015 ABC award for …..’ or ‘Shaved 20% off advertising costs in 2014 saving the business £20,800’.
  4. Being given new responsibilities – Job roles evolve and change and as such, this means that your CV needs updating to reflect any new responsibilities you have taken on.
  5. You learn a new skill  – How often are we shown how to use new software, equipment or asked to step in and do something which involves new skills? Add the skills to your repertoire – you never know when they might come in handy.
  6. You undertake a training course – Internal and external training which is not qualifications based can be important. In larger organisations, with mandatory training requirements, it may be crucial for the ‘what and when’ of these to be included on your CV.
  7. You upgrade your mobile or change your contact details – You would not believe how often contact details are not correct on CVs – a big ‘No No’ with recruiters! Be conscious of your phone upgrades, your changing email addresses and new homes and update immediately
  8. You achieve something significant in your personal life of value to your career  – If you join a significant committee or group which is offering you additional skills and experience which you need/want to demonstrate, personal commitments offer employers valuable insights into your wider abilities. So the PTA, being a local Councillor, Scout group, Football team captain etc should be included.
  9. You see a new CV layout you like and want to have a play – So often, I have heard people look admiringly at other peoples’ CVs. If you feel like it’s time for a change, or maybe it’s got to the point where quantity needs to be edited down, going for a new look is a great excuse to update.
  10. You feel that your CV no longer represents you as a person –Sometimes, you can look at your CV and it doesn’t feel congruent with who you are. If so it might be time to consider why and what you want it to be instead. Remember to keep a copy of your old CV when chopping and changing, though or you might find this is a longer job than you anticipated!

Make sure you keep a master copy of your CV which includes everything that you have ever done.  It doesn’t matter how long this CV is – it’s more of a record than anything so that you can keep a note of all the important information.  That way, when you are tailoring your CV to be relevant for a role, you won’t cut anything out you can’t go to your master copy and retrieve.   Enjoy!

Nicky Luke, Head of Talent Development, Unlocking Potential

10 Top Tips on how to tailor your CV – from Nicky Luke at Unlocking Potential

  • Before you start writing your CV, read and understand the job description – and I mean really understand. When reading a job description and person specification, it is good to tick off the requirements, but even better, you should take time to understand the kind of characteristics and personality that would be needed in a job role. Lots of people might have the right skills – but having the right attitude and being a good ‘fit’ is just as, if not more important. If you include a personal statement in your CV, this is the perfect place to describe your(genuine)self as the ideal candidate.
  • Draw up a matrix – compare yourself directly with the job in question by drawing a skills matrix with your skills, experience and attributes across the top row and the role requirements down the left hand column. Where are you ticking their boxes? This should give you a focus for your CV and cover letter structure and will help you identify your best examples for inclusion.
  • Read about and research the business – get very familiar with your next potential employer; what they do, who for and how they make their money… How will this job fit in? What does the company believe in? Why does the job exist? How will this job help make the organisation more profitable and why would you be great for this? Is this a company you feel an affinity with and you feel you would ‘fit’ into? – Why? Nail that information and start constructing your ideas for your cover letter based on this.
  • Write a unique CV (and cover letter) each time you apply for a new role or to a company – keep a master copy of your CV and use that as a starting point for each new job you apply for. Pull out the relevant information that an employer is going to be interested in for their job role in question or for them as an organisation.
  • Put first things first – make sure the key skills and requirements needed for the job feature at the top of your CV. Make it easy for employers – your relevant skills and aptitudes should shine out! If they have to ‘dig around’ in lengthy text to find out if you can do something, they will give up. Refer back to your matrix and make sure you share your best examples.
  • Use their language – when employers are shortlisting, they are looking for their requirements or to be bowled over by your potential. Sometimes employers (especially large employers and recruitment agencies) use software to help shortlist, which picks out key words in your CV. Even with software-free shortlisting, employers, in the short time they have, will respond positively to you ticking their boxes in terms they understand.
  • Make your CV navigable – choose the right headers for each CV you put together. If employers know where to go in your (neatly laid out) CV to find the information they are looking for, this will pay dividends. Spend time considering what will work for the job you are applying for and consider what will engage the reader; it’s flattering for the recruiter to see a CV which is thoughtfully targeted and your application will stand out.
  • Quantify and qualify – make sure you add contextual information about your achievements and activities in previous jobs, especially where they support your application and demonstrate your understanding of the job in question. For example: I increased new business sales by 32% between 2014 and 2015 OR I supervised a team of 3 people within the marketing department.
  • Make every word impactful – every word in your CV is using up precious ‘real estate’. Is every word worth it? Make sure you keep adding value with your content, avoid repetition and align what you are saying with everything you have researched about the role and the business. Remember that being concise is often more effective than adding volume for volume’s sake.
  • Remember Could I do it, Will I love it, Will they love me? – if you put yourselves in the shoes of the employer, these questions will be most important to them to understand, so make sure your CV and cover letter are reassuring them of those three key things.

And finally… if all that seems a bit over the top, remember that targeting like this for your dream jobs will take you a lot less time than reading endless job ads and sending out generic job applications.  This approach, when undertaken whole-heartedly will attract more attention and more success, more quickly.  Good luck!

Nicky Luke, Head of Talent Development, Unlocking Potential

HE Graduate Employability Conference at Petroc

We enjoyed meeting students at Petroc this week to highlight graduate opportunities in the south west. Some great feedback with one participant commenting “the ladies are very passionate about helping grads from the south west”. We certainly are and we’re glad it shows!

Here are three photos from the day and a bit about what we did.

Our stand just before we opened – looking tidy and organised for a few minutes before a few hundred Petroc students joined us.  P1030029

We ran two workshops too. Here’s Fiona in full flow explaining the services Gradsouthwest offers!  We discussed graduate resources; current top employment sectors in South West England; and career development tools.


We got attendees working too… here one of them is doing our personal values and motivation exercise.


By the end of the session we had lots of happy students – here are a few more of their comments:

“Useful, will definitely log onto Gradsouthwest.” 

“Friendly faces + good advice 🙂 Helpful tips for the future. Thanks x” 

“Useful! Activities were helpful.  Thank you.” 

“Useful interactive strategies to help and assist people in starting to think + prioritise one’s stepping stone into the right work environment for us as individuals. Thank you!” 

“Informative and helpful.  Information on looking for jobs and skills needed for future applications was helpful.” 

“Looking forward to checking the website for jobs! 

And the last comment sums it up nicely – now go to to look for graduate jobs in the South West!

Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.

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