If you’re struggling on how to write a graduate CV, there are many little hints and tips that you should keep in mind whilst doing so. It helps to have a strong basis so you can tailor it for each job you apply for; so here are some basic tips on content and structure to help your graduate CV stand out from the others.
Before you begin, it is important to consider your graduate CV’s intention/purpose. It must accomplish several things to ensure success.
Graduate CV templates should:
- Be a reflection of the type of person you are (as articulated by your interests and personal statement).
- Explain your professional experiences so far.
- Demonstrate all relevant accomplishments and skills.
- Present you as a strong candidate for whatever role you are applying for.
Here is what your CV shouldn’t do:
- Contain details for the sake of filling it up. Be precise to keep the reader interested. Make them curious about what you have to offer.
- Include lengthy discourses about all the courses you have ever taken.
- Be a checklist of achievements, including ones relevant to the position you’re applying for.
You need to make sure that your graduate CV’s content is unique. Don’t use a fancy layout to isolate yourself from other candidates (unless the position you are applying for is design-related). Don’t leave room for recruiters to reject the CV based on the layout or font you used. Optimising the accessibility of your graduate CV is necessary.
Consider the following recommendations:
- The font you use should be simple. The most popular basic fonts are Calibri, Veranda, and Arial. The same character and font size should be consistent throughout the document.
- Use italics or bold letters for text emphasis, as opposed to underlining important things like job roles.
- Format content with numbering, dashes, and bullet points.
- Make sure that all bullet points, headings, and new paragraphs are in sync with one another. They should contain a style that is consistent (for instance, bold your headings).
- The CV should be split into different designated sections (for example, work experience, profile, education, etc.). When listing your experiences, they should be prioritised from newest to oldest. In other words, the most recent educational institution you attended should be higher than the older ones.
- Endeavour to limit your graduate CV to 2 pages in length. If the CV is too long, the reader could potentially lose interest in it.
- Determine what skills a company is looking for, then list relevant experiences associated with those skills (ideally on your CV’s front page).
- Use A4 paper of high quality if a recruiter is expecting a physical copy of your CV.
This will be required by every employer and is standard. With that said, refrain from including your marital status, gender, or birth date. Personal details should be on the CV’s first page, near the top. Make sure there is enough space between sections. Consider adding your name to the header, so it is displayed on every page of your graduate CV.
“Curriculum vitae” isn’t something you should add to the header. This is valuable space that could be utilised for something else. Also, the employer knows what kind of document you are giving them.
Include the following essentials:
- Your name
- Mailing address.
- Phone number.
- Email address.
How to write a graduate CV personal profile:
Though this is optional, graduate CV templates could contain a section explaining why you are pursuing a career within the employer’s field. Most prospective employers are looking for suitability and experience summaries. Refrain from making an unsubstantiated statement like “I am a hard worker.” That should go without saying based on your CV’s content. Rather, endeavour to write a relevant and factual mission statement. If there is any information that you feel you must impart, but you’re unable to find a place for it inside the personal profile section, then include it in the cover letter.
Make sure it:
- Is shown at the top of the CV.
- Isn’t any longer than four sentences (strive for at least two, though).
- Provides a rundown of your existing situation (for instance, “I am a recent graduate, and my degree is in…”).
- Is lively, positive, and succinct.
- Doesn’t use buzzwords like “team player” and “dynamic,” which all applicants are expected to use.
- Details specifically what your intentions are. For example, “I’m seeking a job in the unique field of…”
- Is customised as per the position being applied for. Be sure to specify the position, as well as the employer. Don’t use generic profiles and post them on every CV sent out.
Education achievements should be listed from newest to oldest. Begin with whatever university degree you obtained. Employers are looking for snapshots of your academic achievements here, as opposed to a timeline of educational experiences. Concentrate on university grades, extracurricular activities, and specialisation, for starters.
“Transferable skills” can be used if you are a recent graduate making your way into the employment market. This section will allow you to put a spotlight on skills the employer needs. Emphasise your presentation skills, communication skills, project management skills, and leadership skills.
Here are some of the things that should be contained in this section:
- Your qualifications (A-levels, degree, GCSE’s). List them from newest to oldest.
- The dates that you attended institutions in.
- A-level subjects, establishment, and grades.
- Degree establishment, grade, type, and subject.
- More details about university/specialisation experience.
- English, science, and maths GCSE grades (refrain from listing all of them, though).
- Other relevant skills (for instance, secondary languages, computer literacy, etc.).
Work experiences for a graduate CV:
You might not have a lot of working experience, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any experiences to share on your graduate CV. Include the things that you have accomplished, whether they transpired in summer placements, schemes, voluntary work, or student internships.
Some examples of extracurricular or voluntary work include competitions (like SIFE and Young Enterprise). If relevant skills are something you’ve developed, list them on the CV. There is no need to discuss experiences you didn’t have responsibilities for. The experiences you list as a student should be ordered from newest to oldest.
The work experience section should contain the following:
- Organisation or company, job title, and dates.
- Sentences illustrating positions you’ve held.
- Bullet points that summarise responsibilities you’ve had.
- Specific skills and achievements, as well as evidence to support your claims (if applicable).
Activities and interests:
In this section, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about yourself, what you’re like when you’re not working, and what your personality/character is like. Be sure to list hobbies or activities, but do so professionally. Graduate recruiters want to read about things that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Refrain from talking about anything you cannot back up. If you’re a runner and jog two times a week, make a note of this in your graduate CV. If you’re a member of a society or club of some sort, rather than just expressing your love of those groups, explain your activities as a member of them.
If you worked overseas or spent the summer travelling somewhere, write about it here. You don’t need to write an essay about your adventures, nor do you need to chronicle each aspect of the journey. Describing these endeavours tells the recruiter that you have the motivation and confidence to explore new things. It also shows them you are open-minded!
Examples to include in this section include the following:
- Awards (physical achievements/recognitions). These are physical manifestations of your competitiveness and ambition.
- Sports teams.
A couple of references are enough for an entry-level graduate CV. One may be an academic reference, the other a professional one. Contact details can be omitted if one of your references is your existing employer, and you would rather notify them about a potential phone call first.
When omitting references, be sure to write something along the lines of “references available upon request.” That way, the recruiter will know that you’re willing to offer them.
Proofreading your graduate CV and taking notes:
- What type of tone does the CV take?
- Does the graduate CV describe each one of your achievements?
- Does your CV convey the type of person you are?
- Have you neglected anything patently obvious?
Sometimes a recruiter receives a CV that omits contact numbers, degree types, or institutions attended. When sending CVs out to companies, do not get complacent. Take a break before sending out each CV. Make sure that all aspects are covered.
Consider the following methods when proofing:
- Don’t send it out right away – review your CV the following morning. Fresh eyes will allow you to spot mistakes you might’ve missed the night before. You can even ask a graduate mentor for advice.
- Don’t neglect the obvious. A spellchecker should be used to ensure that punctuation is correct.
- Read the CV out loud. Doing so can help you identify the tone of the document. It will also help you review the flow. That way, you’ll be sure that the document isn’t just a string of impressive words.
- Ask others to take a look at your CV. Friends are fine, but industry professionals are recommended. Be open to taking criticism in order to optimise your CV.
- Revisit your CV afresh. Don’t just re-read and edit. Try different layouts. Resume.io has loads of templates. It just makes it feel fresh and new.
Stretching the truth isn’t something you should do. Everybody wants to get noticed by an employer, but if you are unable to back your claims up in an interview, or if there are inconsistencies between what your CV says and what you’re telling the recruiter, it will be obvious. Endeavour to work for somebody who appreciates the legitimate experiences and skills you bring to the table. From these steps, you should feel confident on how to write a graduate CV!