For newly graduated candidates, writing your first professional CV can be challenging. It’s tough to know how exactly you should structure your CV, what to include and how to compete with all the experienced job seekers on the market. Here are a few pointers to help you get it right:
Don’t over complicate it
To start with don’t over complicate things; keep your CV nice and simple with a clean font and logical layout. This will ensure that recruiters and employers can easily read your CV and find the information they are looking for. Stay away from over-elaborate fonts, logos images and complex designs, as they will make your CV hard to read and detract from the all-important content. The easier you make your CV to read, the more time people will spend reading it.
Do your research
In order to make a CV that will appeal to your chosen potential employers, you must first ascertain exactly what qualities they expect from a candidate. Visit company websites and browse through relevant job adverts to make a list of the most frequently appearing candidate requirements. Once you have a list of their most valued skills, experience and knowledge; add as many of them as possible to your CV and make them prominent.
Format for high impact
Recruiters will only spend a few seconds on an initial scan of your CV before deciding whether or not they will read it in full. To make sure you pass this early test, you must pack the top quarter of your CV with the most relevant terms and key words to create an instant impact. Define sections clearly with bold headings and adequate spacing, and break text up with short paragraphs and bullet points to ensure a pleasant reading experience.
Highlight transferrable skills
One of the biggest problems graduates face, is relative lack of work experience compared to seasoned workers on the job market. And with many job adverts specifically asking for work experience, this can be a real struggle for some. If you want to compensate for your lack of work experience then you simply have to be a bit creative and draw transferable workplace skills from other areas of your life. For example you could easily use school projects, work placements, volunteer work or vocational courses to demonstrate skills such as planning, organisation and teamwork.
In order to grab recruiters’ attention on the graduate job market, you need to really sell yourself and don’t be shy of shouting about your achievements. Head your CV up with a punchy personal profile that summarises all of your key offerings and shows the value you can add to an employer. Be sure to pack in some key achievements, backed up with facts and figures to show the impact you have made at previous posts. Always send your CV accompanied with a short sharp cover letter to persuade the recipient to open your CV in the first place.
Add a little extra flare
Often employers won’t have much to compare graduates against each other beyond their grades, so adding some impressive extra-curricular activities can really set you apart from the competition. Steer clear of run-of-the-mill interests such as “socialising with friends” or “going to the cinema” and opt for hobbies that are either aligned to your desired career, or simply impressive achievements. For example maybe you run marathons or write a weekly blog – they would be great interests to add. Also anything involving charity fund raising or event organisation show are excellent to show that you are hard working and savvy.