CV Tips for Students and Graduates

Why your CV is so Important

How many adverts do you see every day? How many do you remember? How many actually catch you eye?

When you're hunting for graduate jobs your CV is you advert. Your CV is the first chance to promote yourself to a graduate employer and to secure an interview. Make sure you stand out. Don't forget, first impressions count!

1. Identify your strengths.

Generic CV's are a definite no. Although it may be time consuming you must tailor your CV to represent you as an individual. Identify your main selling points and your key competencies - think about what an employer will be looking for.

It is a good idea to begin with a short personal profile detailing who you are, what graduate job you are interested in and why somebody should read on. If you can grab the reader's attention here they are likely to read on.

2. Decide on a CV Format

There are two most common formats used:

In our experience the most successful CVs are written in a chronological format because the graduate employer can quickly establish what you have studied, your academic success and when you are available to start,

3. Structure

Most employers prefer short concise CV's. No more than two pages long. Think quality, not quantity.

On average, readers absorb 60% of the first page, 40% of the second. When you are preparing your CV for the graduate job, always include the most relevant information on the first page. If a piece of work experience is critically relevant to this particular graduate job, give it twice as much space as other, less important work experience.

Make the most of spaces on your CV. You do not want your CV to look cluttered or hard to read but avoid gaps. Choose a quality A4 paper and take time to lay it out carefully. To ensure that your CV looks good avoid long paragraphs of unbroken text. Break it up with line spaces or bullet points. Keep sentences short and concise. Choose a font style that's neat and a point size that's not too small. Highlight section headings or important text: Using bold and larger point sizes are better than too much underlining.

4. Content

Depending on your skill set and the graduate job you are applying for, the content of your CV will vary but there are some key details that do need to be included:

Personal Details - Name, Contact Details, Eligibility to work in the UK

Education - Degree, A-levels and GCSEs (Subjects, results and dates)

Work Experience: Always list your most recent work experience first. Include position held, company, dates of employment and a brief description of your role and responsibilities. It is important that all work experience listed is relevant. Be prepared to be questioned on your experience so have examples ready of where you took on extra responsibility or where you achieved targets that you were set.

Achievements: When asked what your greatest achievement to date is, just remember that the last thing that a graduate employer wants to hear is "my degree". Guess what? Everyone applying for a graduate job has a degree so make sure you have an example that makes you stand out from the other candidates. The employer is trying to work out what motivates you and what you consider success to be so always bear in mind their requirements. Try to list examples that are fairly recent.

Hobbies and Interests: Only include relevant and appropriate information in this section. When talking about hobbies and interests try to demonstrate skills and personality traits that will be suitable for the role you are interested in, for example if you are involved in team sports, showed leadership, competitiveness, reliability etc. Any information should have a purpose and make you stand out from the other applicants. You may be asked to go into more detail if you get to interview stage so once again don't exaggerate or you could be backed into a corner.

Additional Information and Skills: Driving licence details, additional qualifications, languages and IT skills.

References: You do not need to include references on your CV unless the application instructions tell you to. You can simple state that 'references are available on request'. Employers will ask for references if and when they are needed.

5. Check, Check and Check Again

When you have finished your CV print off a copy and read over it again. Remember this is the format in which it will be read by potential graduate employers. It is a good idea to experiment with lots of styles to see which best enhance your skills and experience.

When you have finished your CV print off a copy and read over it again. Remember this is the format in which it will be read by potential graduate employers. It is a good idea to experiment with lots of styles to see which best enhance your skills and experience.

If possible get somebody else to read through your CV to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can pick something up you missed. They might also spot irrelevant information.

Always take a copy of your CV to any interviews you attend. It is useful to print a copy out for yourself and make additional notes on it to prepare for any unexpected questions the interviewer may be interested to ask from information included on you CV.

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