How do you set yourself apart from all the other applicants who are applying for the same jobs as you? If you're at university and have no work experience yet this can be difficult – but projects and dissertations you undertake can really help here. They make your CV different from the others, and you stand out from the crowd. Obviously you need to choose something relevant to your degree – and your tutors are best placed here to advise – but something useful and relevant to industry would be a real bonus when it comes to securing employment.
Research the fields you're currently considering – are they too narrow or specific? If so, only a handful of companies may be interested. Try to choose a project that will be of interest to a broad spectrum of industries, in growth areas, as this will open more doors for you.
Is there a practical content? Doing something very theoretical may be interesting to you but it's likely to be of less interest to companies who are generally after practical skills. Can you demonstrate that you have been able to learn new skills (software languages for example) in your own time? This demonstrates independence, interest and motivation – all qualities that are sort after by employers.
Does your dissertation offer the opportunity to spend some time in industry, however short? This shows that you have had at least some experience in the work place – and this is always of interest to employers.
Consider if you could present your findings at an industry specific conference? This could enable you to meet people in industry, get you some exposure and make contacts – all of which could prove useful when securing work.
If you are finding the prospect of finding work daunting..........try to imagine yourself on the other side of the fence - in the shoes of the managers looking for staff. They will receive hundreds of applications for each and every job – many of which will be remarkably similar to yours. They will have to sift through all of these before deciding who to call for interview. It's a time consuming task. Anything you can do to set yourself apart from all the others has got to be a good thing
We are happy to offer advice to you if you're at the stage of deciding what to do – we know what's going on out there in industry and our advice is both well-grounded and impartial.