I’m no recruitment guru, but even I can tell you how important it is to have a CV that outshines your competitors. Whether you’re going for the role of CEO at a multinational tech corporation, or a week of work experience at your local scaffolding firm, you’ll need your first impression to be exceptional. With so much free time, and the warmer weather reinstating people’s smiles and generosity, summer is the perfect time to take your CV from Reliant Robin to Rolls Royce.

While none of us know the secret of how to succeed at every job you ever apply for, I can share the things that I feel have worked for me.

Create a portfolio of written references

When applying for jobs, placements or internships, you’re almost always asked to supply at least two referees which the potential employer can easily contact with regards to your experience and general working style. Referees can sometimes hinder your chances of getting a job as much as they can help. It’s common for referees to respond late, or even not at all to the enquiring company. Having no references can massively impact your chances of securing a position in a company if referees are unable to give information on time.

Instead of hating on your referees, I’d recommend using some free time over the summer, and asking as many managers, tutors or other suitable contacts as possible to write you a brief, general reference, signed and printed on official company paper. This will give potential employers something to work with and a general feeling on how you are to work with.

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Refine your social media

With so much time off, now could be a great time to polish your online presence and ensure the image you portray on social media is a good one, as this will make you much more appealing to employers. I’m not saying you have material online that is incriminating, but I’m sure we’ve all tweeted things that we wouldn’t want our boss to see. My best bet would be to have specific accounts for personal and private use. For example, I’m an avid LinkedIn fan, and that is solely for professional use, whereas my Instagram is private, as I’m not so sure potential employers want to see me having more fun than them at Parklife.

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Shadow someone for the day

The summer is a perfect time to get onto your LinkedIn account and slide into the DM’s of the professionals you admire. You’d be surprised how enthusiastic a lot of industry leaders are to let you spend a day with them. I’m not saying if you drop an email to David Beckham’s people you’ll get to spend the day doing…well Beckham things, but it’s worth a shot. Shadowing is always a great way to pick up on industry techniques, and also network.

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Networking, it’s either your worst nightmare or your best friend. I’m the latter group, which means that I’m very lucky in being able to talk with new people, whether it’s about our careers, experiences or anything in between. For those of you like me, you may as well skip to the next point, but for those who’d rather have their eyelashes pulled one-by-one than attend any kind of networking event, I have an idea which may help. I’ve found a really great list of things that I showed to a flatmate of mine who is looking to enter a competitive industry, and they have been able to spark professional relationships as a result. You can find the guide here, I hope you can find a way to utilise the advice so it can work for you.

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Go and have fun! Fun = transferable skills

Sometime, just sometimes, you can pick up some exceptionally useful skills through every day experiences, and summer is the prime time to try new things, right? This is a little more lighthearted, however, here’s a key example from my life last year. ‘The lads and I had the marvelous yet rather spontaneous idea to head to Malia on our travels. Now, I don’t know whether you’ve ever had to navigate seven teenagers through one of the world’s busiest airports, but as the token “smart one” of the group (not a self-titled role) it fell to me to ensure we made it to Crete as a collective. I can assure you after three missing eighteen year olds, two transfers and a delayed flight, I can now tick the “team-player” box. Plus nobody wants to work with someone boring. Thanks Malia.

Image: Rhys' friends on the plane
Rhys’ friends behaving well on a plane to Malia, Crete.