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It’s important for an employer to find the best person for the job when hiring – but, depending on the industry, the right candidate is not always the most experienced. In fact, student CVs are often overlooked, because the skills that they bring to the table aren’t always obvious in the form of previous experience.

Despite this, reading a candidate’s CV is always a great way to get a sense for who they really are – whether they have been in work previously, or not. In this guide, we break down a few of the transferable skills that employers should look for in a student CV.

Relevant Qualifications

It may be stating the obvious, but on the back of a period of study and examination, the very fact that you have achieved (and may still be working toward) qualifications, should be showcased. If your career path is lead by the area in which you’ve successfully studied then showcasing these is a must. If the role you are applying for deviates slightly from your specific area of study then it is important that you emphasise why your qualification has transferable benefits which will relate to the role applied for.

A study by the Office for National Statistics found that 27% of graduates were working in jobs that did not require a degree

Communication skills

An obvious sign that a student applicant is able to communicate clearly and effectively is a well-written, concise CV and cover letter. Look for application documents that are written appropriately for the role and show that the candidate is able to effectively articulate their thoughts. A good place to see this skill demonstrated is in the most qualitative-rich section of the CV – the personal statement.

Through assessing their CV, employers can also get a particularly good sense of a candidate’s written communication skills – such as their ability to format appropriately, and write with high attention to detail. While this is a nice plus, it’s important to remember that writing ability is not always a sure-fire indicator of a candidate’s competence, or their ability to verbally communicate. For example, a person with dyslexia may find spelling and grammar particularly difficult, but still be able to effectively convey meaning through their writing.

Ability to work as a team

For any company to run effectively, employees need to be able to work together. In order to know that your potential employee will be able to do this, it can be helpful to look at the kind of roles they’ve held in the past, as well as any educational achievements.

Usually, a student who has held a job while studying will have worked in hospitality or customer service – industries that require a huge amount of teamwork, as well as plenty of interaction with the public. Similarly, a student with a number of educational achievements will have had to collaborate with others in order to deliver pieces of work to be graded.


A student who takes on different responsibilities and goes out of their way to achieve new things is likely to make a very productive and proactive employee. You might recognise this through a student who has held a weekend job, or perhaps volunteers in their free time. Commitments like these are signs that a person is comfortable with responsibility, and will likely take proactive steps in the workplace to further their skills and experience.

By assessing a candidate’s current or previous responsibilities, you can also get a great sense for whether or not they are able to effectively manage their time. If they have multiple commitments, it’s a good indicator that they are able to stick to a daily structure and schedule, meet time constraints and adapt to different kinds of tasks.

In conclusion

When an applicant’s suitability for the job isn’t immediately obvious on paper, it can be worth offering them an interview if you have the time and resources to do so. Alternatively, it’s also possible to get a good sense for a candidate’s suitability by paying attention to the transferable skills listed on their CV.

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