For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Jobs & Careers

How to make your CV stand out at university

Hoping to boost your employability while still at uni? There are so many things you can do right now to improve your CV. Try these tips and you might just land that dream job.

Student in a library

Credit: Roman Samborskyi (foreground), Suti Stock Photo (background) – Shutterstock

With so many students and graduates on the job hunt at this very moment (yep, even as you read this), you need to do whatever you can to wow future employers.

Thinking ahead and laying the groundwork for your career while you're still studying is a pretty solid way to go about it.

There are a lot of fairly straightforward things you can do while at university that will catch employers' eyes later in the game – all things that look good on a CV. Luckily for you, we've put all of the main ones together so you can get cracking.

Still unsure which direction you'd like your career to take? Have a look at the highest-paid jobs in the UK. It might help you decide...

How to improve your CV

These are the best ways to improve your CV as a student:

  1. Join university societies

    Joining uni societies and getting involved with events – be it your student newspaper, a football team or the Quidditch society – is always a good idea.

    What really boosts your CV, though, is when you take a leadership role in any of these groups. This shows an added level of commitment and leadership skills. Better yet, it gives you lots to talk about during job interviews.

    Getting involved with a society or group that's related to your chosen career path is helpful but not crucial. It's all about those transferable skills after all.

  2. Get a part-time job that fits around your degree

    What looks good on a CV? Other jobs!

    Part-time jobs give you experience in the working world. Plus, they'll look impressive to future employers as you're showing that you know how to balance work and study simultaneously.

    Whether it's showing prospective students around uni or working in a local coffee shop, you're instantly a step above the thousands of graduates who've never had a job before.

    Having previous employment (even if it's in a completely unrelated field) shows you know how things work outside of the university bubble. It also suggests you've got a grip on essential skills like punctuality and teamwork.

    If you're interested in looking for work during uni, we have some tips on getting a part-time job as well as a part-time student job search tool.

    If you haven't already, see our list of the best summer jobs for students.
  3. Volunteer in your spare time

    Group of volunteers packing food

    Credit: LightField Studios – Shutterstock

    Volunteering is always a great way to make your CV stand out from the rest (no matter how creative they are).

    Like holding down a part-time job, volunteering while you study shows that you have great time-management skills – with the bonus that you're devoting your time to a good cause.

    As a volunteer, you might even find that organisations offer you training and qualifications for your roles with them. Check out our guide to volunteering to find out more.

  4. Get to know your university tutors

    It's never too early to start making industry contacts, and your professors might be able to help you get in contact with influential people in your area. After all, they are experts in their field.

    They could potentially put you in touch with people before you graduate to give you advice on your chosen career, or even recommend you for a vacancy.

    Also, if you ask lots of questions and take an interest in your tutors' work, they might be more likely to write you glowing references when you do apply for jobs.

    Connecting with your tutors on LinkedIn is usually a good move, too.

  5. Use the careers advice service at university

    You may not be intending to enter the world of work for another few years, but that's not to say you can't start preparing now.

    Every university has a careers service, and they'll be more than happy to chat with you for half an hour about how to achieve your long-term goals, such as by using recruitment agencies.

    Make use of the careers service while you still can as it's one of the best free things you can get from uni.

    Many universities also run schemes to help you become more employable. For example, the University of Kent runs an Employability Points scheme to reward students for doing things that boost their job-hunting odds by giving them more experience.

  6. Research your chosen career

    Quite simply: if you know where you want to be, then find out what you need to do to get there and start working towards your goal.

    Get in contact with recent graduates in the sector who can tell you how they landed their gig, and take a look at current entry-level job adverts to see what's required.

    Even if you're not yet sure which career to pursue, do some research into a couple of fields you're interested in. Try to get an idea of the transferrable skills and experience you could start building on.

  7. Complete student internships and work experience

    If you have time, doing a couple of weeks of work experience or a short internship during your uni holidays will do wonders for your career.

    A lot of employers will be looking for examples of work experience in the field and evidence of your commitment to the industry. Demonstrating that you're serious enough about your career to devote your spare time to it will look great in job applications.

    Even if you're not sure exactly which path you'd like to go down, dipping your toes in one area will at least give you an insight into the working world.

    We have all the info you need to get started in our guides to getting work experience and doing student internships, plus how to cope if your internship is unpaid.

    Have you thought about the alternatives to an internship?
  8. Keep track of your achievements at university

    Throughout uni, it's a good idea to include your top achievements on LinkedIn.

    And make sure you're regularly updating your CV.

    By staying on top of your work experience and achievements, you'll save yourself time later down the line when you start applying for graduate jobs.

  9. Network with potential employers

    When looking for jobs, social media platforms can help, but meeting people in person makes it easier to have in-depth conversations and build strong professional relationships.

    It's worth sending a quick email to people in your chosen industry and asking them to meet for a coffee. If you introduce yourself and explain there's something specific you'd like to chat to them about (related to their work!), there's a good chance they will agree.

    Also, see if you can find a student organisation that's running a relevant workshop or event near you.

    The Student Publication Association, for example, is a free organisation for aspiring journalists. Or, if you're a law student, check out the UK Law Students' Association (UKLSA).

    Search for LinkedIn groups or even Facebook groups related to your field and get chatting.

  10. Start a business at university

    Starting a business at university will really improve your job prospects.

    Regardless of how successful the business is, it shows you have an entrepreneurial spirit. This will help you stand out as innovative and driven.

    It's a massive talking point for interviews (the more original the better) as well.

    If you're looking for a little inspiration, read about the student who owned and ran her own alpaca farm!

  11. Add extra qualifications to your CV

    cv on computer desk

    Credit: everydayplus – Shutterstock

    Taking a free online course is a great way to expand your CV. There's a huge range to choose from, such as ones on basic HTML, social media strategy and more.

    As well as doing a course online, you could also consider taking a short course over the summer to develop your skills. Or if you're short on time, look into one-day workshops in your local area.

    Try our CV template to get started.
  12. Go travelling during university breaks

    If your budget allows, going travelling can boost your CV. For example, it can help you to develop your planning, interpersonal and language skills.

    If you're thinking about taking a year out to go travelling, we have loads of gap year ideas.

    Even a short interrailing trip around Europe with friends can be a great experience, as can spending the summer working at a summer camp in the US.

  13. Work hard on your degree

    Last but not least, it's easy to get sidetracked by all of your exciting extracurricular activities – but try not to lose sight of why you're at uni in the first place. There's no point putting in all this work to improve your CV, only to fall behind with your studies.

    Employers will look for a good standard of degree as a benchmark for recruiting candidates. Make sure you put as much time into your studies as you can and do your best.

    Have a look at our tips on getting a first-class degree. They could come in very handy.

Of course, these aren't the only ways you can increase your chances of finding your dream job – but they're a good start.

Uni's a great time to start saving and making money and, if you're savvy, you could be a millionaire by 30.

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
Read more


Tweet / Instagram DM / Facebook DM / Email