Development and evaluation of a competence-based curriculum vitae-writing programme for new graduates
This study, presented in the format of four articles, contributes to the development and evaluation of a competence-based curriculum vitae (CV)-writing programme to enhance new graduate employability. A major challenge facing universities, nationally and internationally, is to enhance the employability of their graduates, not only to find any job, but to be able to compete for appropriate and sustainable graduate positions in which they can be satisfied and successful. A review of literature on employability and CV-writing, found no peer-reviewed publication on competence-based CV-writing programmes, thereby indicating a research gap in the development and evaluation of a programme. Research is needed to develop a CV-writing programme that is based on relevant literature, takes into account the opinions of stakeholders, employs sound programme development principles, and is evaluated for its contribution to graduate employability. Three major stakeholder groups directly involved in the employability of new graduates were identified in the study, namely: graduate recruiters, career consultants in higher education institutions, and graduate students. From a pragmatist point of view the problem regarding new graduates' employability was observed and a research process was set in motion to actively manipulate the environment (development and evaluation of the programme) to enable successful human action (enhancing employability). For the purpose of this research inquiry, a multi-phased qualitative research project was undertaken. The first article provides an overview of literature of employability as a psychosocial construct and a critical reflection on a competence-based approach to enhance new graduate employability. The findings of this critical literature review confirm that employability is regarded as a psychosocial construct which relates to individual development and functioning in, as well as interaction with the social environment. The second article reports stakeholders' perceptions of and need for a CV to enhance new graduate employability. Stakeholders involved in the need analysis comprised new graduates (n=7), career consultants (n=10) and graduate recruiters (n=8). The third article combines the literature overview with the stakeholders' perceptions and needs and applied programme development principles to develop and describe the programme. The aim of the programme is to assist new graduates to create competence-based CVs that link their employability attributes to the requirements of jobs and thereby enhance their employability. The fourth article demonstrates how programme evaluation literature and principles are applied to obtain stakeholders' evaluation of the programme. By means of convenience sampling, graduates (n=190) voluntarily attended the programme, wrote a knowledge test before (n=158) and after (n=130) the presentation, and completed feedback forms (n=145). Graduate recruiters (n=11), guided by open-ended questions, evaluated students' CVs which resulted from the programme. In an economic environment that is characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, this study makes a contribution to empower new graduates, with little work experience to write convincing CVs and so better their chances to gain suitable employment. This study made the following eight specific contributions to new graduate employability as a psychosocial construct. First, the confusing and unsystematic literature on new graduates' employability was critically reviewed to present a coherent summary relevant to all stakeholders involved in new graduate employability. Second, an original definition of new graduate employability is proposed which could guide new graduates in preparing for the work context, career consultants and graduate recruiters to prepare and use in the recruitment process. Third, information of what to include in a competence-based CV-writing programme for new graduates were obtained from the stakeholders who are directly involved with new graduate employability, thereby ensuring that the proposed programme is developed from a bottom-up approach. Fourth, in the proposed competence-based CV-writing programme, new graduates are assisted to present contents in their CVs based on an underlying rationale and not 'as is' biographical information. Fifth, the competence-based CV-writing programme provides new graduates with a systematic approach to connect the employability attributes that they have developed during the course of their lives or in informal (sometimes) unrelated work experience to fit the needs of employers. Six, the criteria that were developed can be used to evaluate CVs in terms of adding value (creating a positive impression of the applicant) or detracting from its value (creating a negative impression of the applicant). Seven, originality in this study was demonstrated by linking competence words with the skills and contexts in which the experiences developed to demonstrate employability attributes that are transferrable to the work context. Eight, the practical orientation of this research, proposes a step-by-step process for career consultants to provide a structure for new graduates to overcome this challenge. Recommendations are made for theory, practice and future research of new graduate employability.
- Health Sciences