Expert advice to help you create the perfect graduate CV…
Your CV is your chance to grab an employer’s attention, convince them of your potential and make sure they want to meet you. Vita Student have teamed up with 2 of the world’s leading authorities on creating an effective, stand-out CV – Prospects & The James Innes Group: The CV Centre.
In this epic 2-part blog, we’ll take you step-by-step through each section of your CV. You’ll find CV do’s and don’ts, tips and advice plus a carefully crafted CV template to make sure yours is perfect!
Part 1 is all to do with the CONTENT of your CV – what sections and information to include, what to leave out and more. In part 2, we’ll put all your hard work writing your CV to good use by looking at how to PRESENT your CV. But first, let’s get it written.
Let’s get started…
Your CV SHOULD
Introduce you as a promising potential candidate for the role
Present all of your relevant skills and accomplishments
Tell a story of your professional experience to date
Reflect something of your character through your professional statement and interests sections
Your CV SHOULD NOT
Be an exhaustive list of your every achievement
Include a lengthy description of every course you’ve ever taken
Contain information just to ‘bulk it out’ . Being concise will help maintain reader interest
Start with your name, and follow up with your address, phone number, email and any links to an online portfolio or blog. Present the information as a letterhead, not on a list (this looks more professional AND will save you some precious space in the body of your CV later!)
Your professional profile is like the personal statement of your CV – your first chance to sell yourself. It must tell the reader who you are, what your experience is and what your strengths are. Be sure to do this swiftly and succinctly – no waffling!
Some rules of thumb for your personal profile…
Lose the I, my, me – write in the third person, no “I did this” or “I did that”!
Edit. Edit. Edit. – your professional profile should be no more than 5-10 sentences. Create something which is short and powerful in communicating your best and most relevant sales points. The best way to do this is to get EVERYTHING down and then cut it down to size.
Back it up! – don’t just make a claim about the achievements you’ve made, give examples of experience you have that supports the professional qualities you’ve listed in your CV.
One size does NOT fit all – it might seem like extra work, but tailoring your CV to each job is so important! What is the recruiter looking for and how do your skills and qualities match this?
Education & Qualifications
Your education and qualifications should be written in reverse chronological order – most recent qualifications first and simply summarise the rest. This section should take up NO MORE than three to four lines. As a graduate candidate all a recruiter needs to know is:
1. Your degree subject, University & year of graduation
2. Number of A Levels & year achieved
3. Number of GCSE’s including Maths and English & year achieved – simply summarise, don’t list every subject!
Just like your education and qualifications, your work history should be written in reverse chronological order. This section requires a little more detail, but still try to keep things as concise as possible.
For each position you’re listing, you’ll need to include the following information:
The company name and location – top tip, if you’re using abbreivated terms make sure you spell them correctly! For example, Ltd. has a full stop, but plc does not.
When you worked there – if it was for over a year, just the year is fine – the recruiter doesn’t need to know each month you worked there.
Your job title – do NOT embellish your job title, the recruiter may contact your previous employer and you’ll be caught out!
A description of what your role entailed – this is your chance to really sell yourself, so make it compelling! Remember to continue writing in third person (no “I’s” or “me’s”). Bullet point your job description in a logical order and focus on your main duties and responsibilities. Remember to give specific examples and emphasise your achievements.
The skills section of your CV is a great chance to sell your suitability to the role, especially if your work experience is a little limited.
Think about the skills you gained through internships and other work over the course of your degree. Regardless of whether or not a skill was gained in a professional setting, write it down! Remember, as tempting as it may be, DO NOT lie. You don’t want to be the person who claims to be fluent in Finnish only to be faced with a Scandinavian interviewer!
Once you have your list of skills, break them up and list them in a logical order, if possible under subheadings such as: communication skills; interpersonal skills; technical competencies and research skills .
This section often sparks debate – “is a recruiter really interested?” True, space on your CV is limited, but if you can, always aim to include it. Your interests give your graduate CV character. Plus, interesting or unusual interests also make for great interview ice breakers!
Keep it simple – use bullet points.
Keep it professional – unusual and interesting hobbies are great for capturing a recruiter’s attention, but make sure it’s for the right reason!
Stay tuned to the blog for more content to help kick-start your career, including our second instalment of your ultimate CV how-to guide, plus a foolproof CV template built by our CV partners!