We know you want to know how to make your CV stand out. We know that, not because we’re stalkers, but because we know how many of you read our CV features. And when competition for a job is fierce, that document could set you apart. Leaving work experience and qualifications aside, getting across what you’re like as a person could go in your favour. Oh, so you’ve given up your free time to help other people instead of going on a summer holiday? Interesting.

It could be awards you’ve won, unusual but interesting hobbies you have, or volunteering that will make an employer give your CV a double take. How about being the manager of a project that has benefited the community? Alex is a youth work apprentice on O2′s Think Big Programme, supporting young people with their projects. He’s seen first-hand how beneficial it’s been to have Think Big projects on your CV, so we asked to know more.

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“It’s great to have qualifications, but what really impresses employers is when they’re able to see that someone has used their initiative to start a project of their own for no monetary gain and a focus on helping others,” Alex explains. “Running your own Think Big project also gives people vital experience they aren’t always able to gain through qualifications. You get valuable experience in a field of interest while showing a sense of entrepreneurship and initiative!”

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Alex tells us there are so many skills to be gained from running a project: “Confidence is the thing that comes up time and time again when people run a project and our project leaders also learn a massive amount of management skills including budgets, schedules and most importantly, their volunteers. Leadership isn’t a natural quality in everyone but it’s something that can be learned!”

Alex adds that communication, negotiation and digital skills are also up for grabs on these projects. “We make it a priority to upskill our project leaders in all kinds of digital skills including website building and coding. We’re lucky to be able to do that with the backing of O2 and Telefonica as well as other digital organisations we’ve partnered with!”

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“It shows a philanthropic mind for sure,” Alex said, when we asked how it would be viewed to potential employers. “People often think of towns, cities and businesses as just one entity but they forget all of these things are made up of people, and it’s those people that our project leaders want to help.”

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Everyday young people are reminded of how hard it is to get a career going, so demonstrating a can-do attitude against the odds is pretty impressive. “One thing that’s always going to factor into an interview process is “does this person share our values and will they fit into the organisation?” If you can demonstrate through your project that you’ve used your initiative and you’re embodying the core values of an organisation, you’ll stand a much better chance!”

So to prove that everything we’ve just told you is, in fact, true, we caught up with a couple of past project leaders to see how Think Big helped their application.

Shanice Mears applied for funding for Kreative Rekruit (which is a really cool arts project, that you can read alllll about here) and has since reaped the benefits of doing this project. “It has helped me in so many ways from leadership skills and running a team to organising events and performers. Also, if you do it on your own its a massive self-esteem boost so second guessing yourself comes to a stand still. Since my project I became creative director of MyRunway, a show with over 80 models having to lead around 100 people! When enquiring for the role, the founder was super impressed with Kreative Rekruit! I have since applied for future job roles I wouldn’t have prior to my project, too!”

Mark Ellison received funding for a project in Durham about poverty, and ran primary school workshops about the issue. As a starter, Mark said he developed leadership skills, time and money management that were all put on his CV. “Following the project, I set up a community interest company which supports 16-18 year olds getting teaching experience. I also worked as a peer facilitator for Think Big, so the skills I developed were then passed onto others. I’m now working for core assets children’s services as an independent supporter. Think Big helped me to develop interpersonal skills and management skills which are key for the job.”

“If you want to stand out, there’s no better way than to run a Think Big project. You’ve got the support of a lot of great organisations and if you’re going up against someone with the same qualifications, a Think Big project could be the thing that tips the odds in your favour,” Alex adds. So if you want to get started, click here to find out how.

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