Ideas on how represent yourself

Just too shy

Employers tell us they want people with resilience, with great communication skills, who work well in teams etc etc. So how can you prove you have those skills in your CV, cover letter or in person?

How can you make a great impression without feeling like a fool, diving deep into imposter syndrome  or hoping you're not going on and on about yourself.

Here are three tips from three wise employers about how to do this better.

At the recent AUT Law Careers Fair law firm Anderson Lloyd HR general manager Kelly Pankhurst gave invaluable advice for students who were wrestling with how to stand out. Do this and I reckon you'll conquer yourself.

Kelly says Anderson Lloyd want well rounded individuals with very good personal qualities, people who have resilience and can talk to others. But she finds young people can really struggle to talk themselves up.

“So I often suggest that you ask people closest to you two things. What am I good at? Why would you hire me? Then put that information down on paper and work with that. These people know you well.”

She says think of activities that show initiative.

“We can get a sense of you showing initiative in your CV and cover letter through information such as whether you have worked part time, done sport, been involved in your community in some way, or committed to groups.”

AUT alumni Anna Gushchina (right), who is now a corporate finance analyst at PWC, made these suggestions about students approaching employers after representing PWC at an AUT career expo. AUT Anna Gushchina PWC

“Be prepared. I freaked out first time. Work out your interests and what you’re thinking about for your future. Know something about the company because employers do remember people and we will write down names someone impresses us.

Think about what it is that you’ve done that may be a bit different to some of the others around you. Did you do some voluntary work? Have you got an interesting hobby? Interesting work experiences? At an event recently, I took down three names to follow up and one was someone who’d talked really well about the volunteering she’d been doing.”

Anna also says it is the simple things that can make a difference – like telling her your name immediately.  "A couple of students approached me and didn’t even tell me their name. It makes me feel awkward.”

Your introduction needs some structure, but it can be very simple, says Anna. “Introduce yourself, what you are studying, what interests you and what you’re doing at the fair. Then ask something about PWC.”

Anna remembers how awful she felt when she forgot her pitch the first year she attended events at AUT but after that she kept going to other events and practising.

“If it is your first event, I also suggest you browse around, listen to other conversations and see how others approach employers and what works that might work for you, then have a go.”

“Practice. Use Employability and Careers lab workshops. Go to events like investment clubs and anywhere you can network. That way you practise your intro pitch but also get to meet other people/employers and get to know a little about them, what they do and what their job is. That is good networking.”

Think about your approach, says Shailan Patel, Education Manager for NZ MYOB (left).

MYOB Shailan Patel chatting “It is normal to feel a bit freaked out at the idea of talking to employers. Whether domestic or international, it can be very overwhelming. Remember to take a deep breath before you start. It will help calm you down."

Shailan says it is important to work out who you want to speak with at events, like career expos.
“In two hours, across nearly 40 companies, you can’t expect to speak to everyone properly. So what companies do you want to approach and think about why they appeal to you before you approach them”

He also reminds students to ask employers what they are looking for today.
“A lot of companies are looking for people for a variety of roles and so you need to find out what they are offering before you start your pitch.”

In summary….

  • Ask people that know you well to help you figure out your top strengths and unique points, then think of examples of how you've developed those strengths to include in your CV
  • Ask questions at events, but not ones you should know, eg what does the organisation do? You can find that out quickly by looking at their website or social media. Instead, ask questions about the kind of projects they are running  or about some of the challenges are in their sector, or about what they enjoy about the company, etc.
  • Also ask employers what they are looking for so you know what to highlight about yourself to show you could be a good fit for the role and organisation.
  • Practice and be prepared – that will overcome your nervousness and help you be remembered

Want some help

The Employability and Careers team can help you practice your introduction/elevator pitch, prepare for interviews, and think about who you are and what you want to say in person and in your CV and cover letters.

Workshops run regularly, in person and online, along with employer events. Come and see us at the Employability Lab.

You sign up through Elab Online. Not used it before? It is easy. Click on the link, pop in your student username and password, and our services will open up in front of you.

We look forward to meeting you.