One question we’re often asked at TalentTech is how to construct a graduate CV which stands out in the market and, ultimately, puts you at the ‘top of the pile’ with both recruitment companies and employers alike. There is, unfortunately, no perfect CV formula but by incorporating some best practice guidelines, you could stand out in the seven or so seconds studies have shown you have to make an impression.
And, at a time when over 50% of people in the UK are considering finding a new job in 2020 (up 8% from last year), it pays to be CV savvy.
Whether you are a fresh graduate, or perhaps in the early stages of your career, the same guidelines apply:
• Simple contact details
• Succinct personal profile
• Work Experience
• Core skills & interests
Keep the font clear and simple, using Arial, Times New Roman or similar. Your CV is not the time to bring out Comic Sans. And use bullet points and headings to break it up into manageable chunks of easily digestible, salient information.
At the top of the first page, clearly state your name, phone number, home address and email address. And, if you have one, your LinkedIn url. However that’s it! Nobody needs to know your national insurance number (and believe us, we’ve seen it on more than one occasion) or date of birth for that matter.
Summarise yourself in a nutshell. Your personal statement should briefly touch your educational background, work experience and career path you’d like to embrace. Think of it as your ‘shop window’; it’s essentially your opportunity to make an impression at the outset and set yourself apart from the competition.
You should start your Education section in reverse chronological order with your most recent degree or postgraduate qualifications first. Clearly state your University, degree subject, dates, and the grade you achieved. If you have room, relevant modules can be included here, but don’t go into too much detail.
Follow this with your secondary school and A Levels or equivalent, then your GCSEs or equivalent (explain the equivalent grade at GCSE for anyone who may not be aware of your qualification if the latter).
Keep it simple. If you prefer, you don’t necessarily have to list each individual grade. Summarising the grades is fine, but ensure you highlight those that are relevant to a particular role you may be interested in e.g. Maths achievement for a role in Finance.
Again, simplicity is the order of the day. Be honest and don’t exaggerate your experience. We’ve all seen The Apprentice! If the role is relevant to the next job you desire, highlight specific tasks or responsibilities, but keep this to a sentence or two; no large paragraphs! If the job isn’t relevant to the role, try to summarise a few key skills that you developed but, again, keep it short and concise. Don’t be afraid to give simple explanations for the jobs you had when you were 16. Again, dates are key, as employers are very interested in your work history, and will want to know if you have had any breaks (usually longer than 3 months) so, if you do, one or two sentences to explain why will suffice.
If you’ve taken a gap year or worked abroad, take this opportunity to showcase your organisation skills, confidence and motivation.
Round your CV off with a short paragraph or some bullet points on your interests, hobbies, or extra curricular activities. This is a great place to talk about playing an instrument, competing in a sport, or and fundraising/volunteering you have done. Include anything relevant that reflects your character and let your personality shine through. It’s also the place for other skills that you might not have yet mentioned, such as additional languages or computer literacy.
If you have any questions on how to write your CV for maximum impact, or would like feedback on your current CV, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, who will be happy to give you some friendly, constructive advice.