Karen Barker, Graduate Recruitment Manager at Deutsche Bank

January 31, 2015

This term, OxWIB is focusing on skills and personal development. Accordingly, on Monday OxWIB were delighted to host Karen Barker (Graduate Recruitment Manager at Deutsche Bank) who provided a useful skills event on the deceptively simple task of writing a CV.

30 – 60 seconds

Karen was refreshingly honest about the pressures of being a Graduate Recruitment Manager – as everyone is aware, there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications and CVs for some highly sought after internships & graduate roles. Accordingly, those in recruitment have 30-60 seconds to glance at each application and decide whether the candidate will progress or be relegated to the wastepaper bin. However, Karen emphasised that this should not be a cause for concern and offered OxWIB members the following key tips to maximise impact in the recruitment process.

What is the return on their investment?

Graduate recruiters are looking for what you are going to add to the business. Accordingly, Karen noted that it makes no sense for a candidate to praise the comprehensive training scheme of a company without pinpointing how the company will benefit from their skills. Companies know that they are offering such comprehensive schemes. However, they do not know your ideas, your leadership potential or how committed you are to your goals. All of these are potential benefits which you could add to a company and it is definitely worth pointing these out.

What differentiates you? 

30-60 seconds is no time at all. Therefore, recruiters like Karen want something to catch their eye and differentiate one CV or application from the rest of the crowd. Karen asked for examples from members at the talk and it was so interesting to hear about the different experiences which people had – everything from unusual language skills, to cultural experiences and positions of responsibility in societies. It is all too clear that intellectual intelligence is not the be all and end all. However, Karen was reassuring – we do all have the potential for such experiences, but we must make sure to take part and to effectively relay this information back to recruiters. On this point Karen told us about a really interesting “CV” she received in the form of a box of apples – it certainly stood out to her!

Quantify your successes 

In relation to the above point, Karen noted that simply noting your amazing experiences is not enough. What is really important is quantifying your successes so that recruiters can understand what skills you utilised and whether you had a real impact. For example, stating that you are JCR President is certainly a good start, but stating that you are a JCR President who has negotiated rent reductions of 5% and managed a team of 50 students on an open day is much more impressive. We saw this for ourselves in the talk – when members with a differentiating quality were pushed on what the actual results were, their achievements were even more impressive.

Tailor your CV

This is a tip which is often repeated, but still not always followed! Karen confirmed that she still receives applications which spell the company’s name incorrectly or just use a different company name altogether. It really does pay to have a friend or someone at the careers service look over your application or CV. It is also important to make sure you know a company’s values and competencies – and that you demonstrate these in your application. All big graduate recruiters may seem the same at first glance, but it is crucial to dig deeper and discover what each company really prides themselves on or strives towards.

Seek out opportunities

Karen provided a really informative and honest talk, which has definitely inspired many of us to dust off the CV and make sure it truly represents our skills. At the end, Karen (rightly) reminded us that we are at a university which is full of opportunity. If you feel your CV is lacking or you want to develop your skills, it is up to you to seize the moment and try new things.

OxWIB events are a great place to start – we have a term filled with skills workshops and even our very own think tank/group talk on internships coming up. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter updates to find out more and we hope to see you soon!


Kirsty Iredale
Worcester College

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