Writing your Graduate CV for the first time? Follow these simply do's and don'ts to give yourself the best chance at going through to interview!
- Use the content of job advertisement to tailor your CV
Go through the specification, and highlight the traits the employer is looking for e.g. detail orientated, passionate, articulate. These are the key buzzwords that you should ensure are in your CV submission for that role. It makes it easier for employers to note a good fit if you mirror the job specification back to them in your application. It’s essential that your CV is tailored to meet the requirements of each individual role you apply for- it gives the best chance of you being noticed.
- Structure by your strengths
As a graduate, you will be lacking experience in your field, so be sure to lead with what you do have. The best place to start is detailing your qualifications. If you studied particular modules or subjects that relate to the role you are applying for, make sure to detail that in your CV. Understandably, content for work history will be lean that this stage. The best way to get around that hurdle is structuring your CV by skill sets e.g. ‘Time management skills’ ‘Team working skills’ ‘Multi tasking skills’. Under each heading, succinctly detail an example which demonstrates your strengths in that area. This is where those buzzwords from the specification will come in handy- use these required strengths to inform your skill set examples.
- Detail extra curricular activity and work experience (and don’t forget examples)
It can be hard to think of examples that display certain characteristics. The best places to cite examples will probably be from work experience or extra curriculars you participated in throughout your time in education. Did you help motivate a team member to complete a project when they were flagging? That demonstrates strong persuasive and motivational skills. Did you lead a group presentation? Be sure to mention your strengths in articulating and communicating ideas to others. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ve learnt- be sure to take time to really think about your personal participation and what you brought to the table in each instance.
- Don’t overlook the basic fundamentals
It can be easy to overlook the basics, but be sure to make sure that you carefully check the following before sending your CV out:
- Format (ensuring font type and size, spacing and any other formatting is consistent)
- Spelling (there’s no excuse for typos, so proof read carefully. It can be useful to have someone else also check your work)
- Grammar (write in full sentences, and use professional language, avoiding slang)
- Include contact information (email address, mobile phone, postal address)
- Length (your CV should be 2 pages maximum. A good rule of thumb is to prioritise quality content over quantity)
- Include a photo
It’s not a standard practice in the UK, and isn’t necessary. It’s much more advantageous to use that same space to put a personal statement about yourself.
- Be too gimmicky
A lot of ‘quirky’ CV structures circulate online- and incorporating something unique can help you stand out. But be wary of incorporating too many gimmicks into your CV e.g. sliding scales to represent skill set, icons to represent interests. A detailed account of your interests and skill sets will always be worth more to an employer reading your CV.
- Ramble to fill space
At this early stage of your career, employers will understand that you don’t have as much experience to draw upon. Don’t feel the need to fill up the space for the sake of it. A short CV that packs a punch is much more meaningful that a long one that doesn’t quite make its point
Interested in reading more about how to clinch your first role? Be sure to read VANRATH’s top tips on networking as a graduate here.
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