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We have seen literally tens of thousands of CVs since 1997 so that puts us in the top 1% of recruiting organisations who can vouch for this! Now you can benefit from our extensive experience helping graduates improve their CVs to succeed in their job hunt with our easy to use CV Makeover Kit. We also run several CV Clinics across the country so if you would like us to visit please contact firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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We have combined our graduate recruitment consultants' knowledge to bring you the ultimate guide on how to write a CV.
You can use the resources below to begin creating a CV from scratch, or to check your current graduate CV template against the useful 'CV dos and don'ts' to make sure your professional CV is what any employer would expect (and want) to see.
Although there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all method for a perfect CV, there are certain graduate CV tips you can follow to make sure that your CV template is faux-pas free and ends up at the top of any recruiters pile.
You can link to our CV resources below, or scroll down for general CV advice, including a guide to:
Before you even start, it is worth thinking about the purpose of your CV and looking at a graduate CV example or two. To ensure its success it needs to accomplish a few main things.
A graduate CV template should:
Your CV shouldn't:
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You have to remember that there's no accounting for taste, so you have to make the content of your CV unique, rather than using elaborate graduate CV layout to make you stand out from the crowd (unless, of course, you are going for a design job, in which case you have room to get creative). You can't afford for a recruiter to reject your CV because they don't like your font or layout, so making the document as accessible as possible is a must.
Some suggestions are:
These are standard and required by all employers, but note that you shouldn't include your date of birth, marital status or gender. Ensure that your personal details are clearly placed at the top of the first page of your CV and don't take up too much space, you could also use your name as a header so that it appears on both pages of your CV.
Don't include the header 'curriculum vitae'; it's a waste of space that you might need to utilise later and furthermore your prospective employer will know what the document is.
The essentials to include are:
This is an optional section of a graduate CV template which can be used to show the employer you are focused and determined to pursue a career in their field. Most selectors want an uncomplicated summary of expertise and suitability. Don't fall into the trap of making unsubstantiated statements here - for example "I am hardworking" - that should be evident from the content of your CV. Instead make this a factual and relevant mission statement.
For your first graduate CV, your education will be of high importance. Write your education in reverse chronological order, so start with your university degree. The employer wants a snapshot of you as an academic in this section - not a summary of 15 years' worth of your school reports. Focus on your university grades, specialisation and extra-curricular experiences to start with. A term that is often used in relation to the graduate employment market is 'transferable skills' and this section is where you need to throw light on those skills which might include leadership, project management, communication and presentation skills. Essentially the education section should contain:
You might think that at this stage you don't have much in the way of work experience - but when looking at a graduate CV example we often find that relevant content gets overlooked.
You can include everything you have done from internships and voluntary work to schemes and summer placements.
Some great examples of voluntary or extra-curricular work experiences that can sometimes be overlooked are competitions such as Young Enterprise and SIFE. As long as you have developed relevant skills, then it is worth a space on your CV. What is not appropriate is an essay about part-time work with limited responsibility. Again, your work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order.
Your work experience will be comprised of:
This is the place to say a little bit about you as a person, outside of work, and to let your personality shine through. You can mention any activity or hobby, but obviously keep it appropriate, there are certain things that a graduate recruiter just won't want to hear, so use your own discretion.
Try to avoid irrelevant listing of things you enjoy with no evidence to back it up. If you enjoy running and go running twice a week, tell them that you go running twice a week and not just that you enjoy running or if you are involved in a club/society, don't just say you enjoy that subject or sport, tell them you are an active member of the club or society.
If you have taken a gap year and been travelling or spent a summer travelling this is the place to detail it, although obviously don't go into too much detail about every little aspect of your journey, but it can be good to show organisation, confidence and a motivation to learn new things!
Examples worth including in this area are:
Two references are ample for your entry-level graduate CV. One can be academic and the other from a period of work experience. You can choose to omit the contact details if, for example, one is a current employer or you would prefer to contact them first.
If omitting the references remember to note at the bottom that 'references are available on request' or something similar so the recruiter knows you are willing and prepared to provide these.
What overall tone does your graduate CV take?
Has it conveyed all of your accomplishments as well as an idea of you as a person?
Have you missed anything glaringly obvious?
Sometimes we get a CV example that omits the degree grade, degree subject or even a contact number. Don't get complacent when sending out your CV to numerous companies, give yourself a break between each CV and ensure you have covered all aspects when writing and/or tailoring it.
Try out some of the following proofing methods:
One more important point - don't be tempted to 'stretch the truth' in your CV. Getting your foot in the door would be worthless if, once you are at an interview, you can't back up your claims or are inconsistent with what you are telling a recruiter. You want an employer who wants you for all the unique skills and experience you can bring.
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