Are students truly taking CV-building too far?


As a university student who is studying a dual degree bachelor, I strongly believe that pursuing a higher education is highly beneficial. There is a lot of value in being well-rounded and indulging in a plethora of topics. Education is an investment in human capital as there is a strong correlation between education and employment. Yet now more than ever, there seems to also be a correlation between employment and luck.

Durkheim believed that the education system has two roles; first it aids the socialisation of the young into society and second it is the path to the selection into the occupational structure based on individual achievement. Over the past few years, individual achievement has become a top priority for students, but do employers think the same way?

 The main role of the labour market is to match the supply and demand for technical skills and competence. The exponential growth of higher education mirrors the exponential increase in technological knowledge, which ultimately results in establishing more technical, managerial and professional careers. This is important in order to contextualise the economic aspect of employability. However, this article seeks to delve into the gap between undergraduate students’ beliefs about resume-building and what employers actually look for in a resume. 

Students’ flawed focus

University students are putting tremendous amounts of effort into their academic achievements. However, based on personal experience of Alison Green, a college graduate with an honours thesis, “few hiring managers are going to care that you once participated in a community trash pick-up day.” While she does not immediately dismiss the impact of extra-curricular activities during university on employers, her experience showed her that it is only as significant as the impact your participation had on the community.

For instance, a leadership position in a club that increases participation will show drive and initiative. Yet many students are engaging in clubs as members with titles that have no substantial meaning, which is the main area of critique. There appears to be a false common consensus amongst undergraduate students that the more clubs you are a part of, the more attractive your resume will be to employers. 

Another shared view among undergraduate students is that LinkedIn is the it-girl of social networking platforms. Although LinkedIn can be highly beneficial when it comes to establishing a network or discovering job applications, there remains to be a fallacy in this perception. According to research conducted by the Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, the purpose of LinkedIn in the marketing curriculum is to encourage the use of other social media networking and self-marketing skills of marketing students. The reality is that LinkedIn is used too heavily by students who have not even built an extensive or useful network. 

Is AI determining students’ careers?

On the other side of the bridge stand the employers (who most of the time appear to be as confusing as men in their early twenties). Nevertheless, they might not be as confusing as we perceive them to be, as they might not always be the ones reading your resume. Due to the growing popularity of Artificial Intelligence (AI), employers are now using it to hire labour.

Human resources rely on AI for recruitment, development, performance management and productivity monitoring. However, this comes with consequences for the applicants. Recent research shows that, “As organisations increasingly rely on AI for recruiting talent, the potential for algorithmic bias also becomes a growing concern.”Henceforth, organisations are now required to be more transparent about their use of AI and publicise their data audit. 

So, what should students do?

Ultimately, many students’ beliefs about how to build a resume are flawed. The majority think that the more experience they acquire and the longer their list of titles is, then the more attractive their resume will be. But in this case, the sayings “less is more” and “quality over quantity” are most applicable. Thus, students should opt for meaningful experiences that complement their learning as a means to enrich the resume. 

The key to attract employers is to understand what they want and how the recruitment process occurs. Consequently, universities should implement a resume-writing course adapted to the technological world and that is tailored to the specific degree, in an attempt to bridge the gap between undergraduates and employers. It is crucial to break-down the walls of classrooms and open them to the real-world in order to facilitate the students’ transition and expose them to their future. 

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