Securing any sort of creative role has never been an easy task. From writing to design to performing arts, there has always been strong competition in these fields; this was prevalent even before the economy took a dive.

On the face of it is easy to assume that the reasons you’ve missed out on a creative job are clear. You simply could have been up against someone with more work experience, stronger qualifications or perhaps you just had to compete with a candidate who could ‘talk the talk’. Either way, it’s frustrating, but accepted as part of breaking into the industry.

According to Investors in People, 47% of UK employees are considering moving roles this year. The brightening economy has put people in a greater position to further their careers and as a result employers from ‘creative’ businesses are seeing more CVs for more job openings.

Speak to them about the standard of applications however and often the ‘rejection’ reasons that everyone expects to hear aren’t always forthcoming. It isn’t always that the candidate doesn’t have the right level of experience or their education is below standard; instead the problem lies with the basic formatting of their applications.

A Masters degree, great work experience portfolio and positive attitude can quickly get put aside at the whiff of a badly formatted covering letter written in Times New Roman.

Of course, the competition is strong, but the truth is there appears to be too many graduates out there without basic interview or CV formatting skills.

Universities do have well-established and well-resourced careers services and even if your school days are long behind you there’s still a wealth of online resources to help job-seekers prepare themselves for interview. To a large extent, making the most of these facilities is down to the individual’s own initiative.

But in the age of fee hikes, is it now acceptable for universities to segregate teaching hours and the careers service while only offering 8 hours per week of contact time? Students (and their parents, universities and the government) now have to justify higher education more than ever before, yet any sort of careers preparation seems to be lacking from most courses.

With students now expected to pay up to £9,000 per year, surely universities should be doing everything they can to ensure their students know how to present themselves?

Yes, students should have the initiative to showcase their work effectively; yes they should have the drive to build up a great work experience portfolio. But let’s not forget they’re paying a lot of money and basic CV presentation skills should really be inherent.

When the old fees were in place, the fact that 6 contact hours were offered a week slightly smarted with some students (of course, on the flip side many enjoyed long lie-ins too), but now, a degree and nothing more simply isn’t enough.

Students should be introduced to their industry from the get-go, whether that’s regular company guest speakers, integrated careers workshops or just good old-fashioned advice.

Creative roles can be tricky enough to break into without being held back by the simplest of errors. Everyone needs to justify the fee increase, even more so with a degree that doesn’t directly lead to a profession. Let’s turn this around with a strong focus on employability in universities. A degree now needs to be more about writing essays and library study and should instead be a holistic education designed to prepare students for the realities of job hunting.

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