A Guide to Writing the Killer CV

We’re back again – bringing you part two of our podcast series, aimed at helping graduates get ahead on the job hunt!

In our first episode we busted ‘4 myths about job hunting’; unpacking some of the common thoughts most graduates have during the job hunt – and how to overcome them.

This week we turn our attention to the graduate CV, covering everything from nailing the layout to what you should include.What to take away:

Tip 1: Get the basics right

It might seem obvious, but getting the CV basics right is the key to application success.

Attention to detail is everything – you wouldn’t believe how even the smallest error can be the most obvious to the eyes of an employer.

To start with, make sure there are no gaps in your employment history, but if you took time out for travelling be sure to add it in. And don’t forget to include dates! It gives employers a more complete picture of what you’ve been up to.

Check and double check your contact details are correct and are actually on your CV – otherwise how will an employer get in touch?

Getting a second pair of eyes to check over your CV – whether a friend, parent, lecturer or even your Nan – will reduce the chance of mistakes slipping through. There could be some small errors you’ve missed, that an employer probably won’t.

Tip 2: Less is more

The key here is to keep it relevant. Think, ‘does an employer really need a list of all the university societies I was part of, or the intricate details of how awesome my dissertation was?’. You should tailor every application you make to the role and company you’re applying to, this will help you decide what to include and what to leave out. Your final CV should show you have the skills to do the job and the personality to fit in with the company.

We recommend that your first CV out of university should be no longer than a page. Start with your education at the top, followed by your experience, with bullet points listing the details of each. The graduate CV essentials are:

  • University attended (including the dates you were there)
  • Degree result (or predicted)
  • List of experience (with your most recent at the top)

Tip 3: Formatting is your friend

Simple things like stretching margins and using size 10 font will give you significantly more room to sing your own praises.

Be consistent with the font type and size you use. E.g. switching between dots and stars for bullet points looks messy and suggests you’re not very savvy with Microsoft Word – something almost every job requires!

You don’t need to list your references – unless the job ad specifically asks for it. Just add a sentence at the end of your CV stating “References available on request”. Companies have their own systems for managing references, so you’re just wasting valuable space by listing them!

Tip 4: The modern day cover letter

Adding a short ‘Personal Profile’ at the top of your CV, gives you the chance to write a summary of who you are and why you’re applying for the role. It’s a great way to show an employer what makes you unique and why you’re the best person for the job.

It should make whoever picks up your CV, want to keep reading. Top tips here are, keep the profile to about 5 lines and make sure you avoid clichés at all costs.

Author: Give A Grad A Go have been changing the graduate jobs market for the better. We’re consistently working with some of the best graduate employers in the UK and have started well over 1,500 careers. So whether you’re fresh out of university, or you have a few years’ work experience – we’re the graduate recruitment agency that can help you land the job that’s right for you.

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