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In order to stand out in the competitive graduate jobs market, a good CV is key.
Your first opportunity to show a potential employer who you are and what you can do, your CV should reflect your skills, work experience, education history, hobbies and interests – all on 2 sides of A4 or less!
When you consider that employers spend an average of 6 seconds skimming your CV, the right structure is key to ensuring that you get all the relevant information seen – and better your chances of landing the graduate job you’re after. Although the content of your CV will vary greatly depending on the types roles you're applying for, there is a fairly conventional way of structuring a CV, across every sector.
With that in mind – here’s how to structure a CV for graduate job search success.
There’s no need to include the title ‘Curriculum Vitae’ at the top of your CV - the first thing that employers see should be your contact details. This should include your full name, phone number and email address. Make sure these are as visible as possible – how else will the employer be able to contact you?
It’s not expected of you to include your marital status, date of birth, race or nationality (although if you would require a VISA to work in the UK it might be a good idea to include this here).
Key to making a good first impression, your personal profile (also known as a personal statement, a professional profile or a personal summary) should include a couple of sentences about you and what you can bring to the role. The main goal of the section should be to grab the employers' attention, by showcasing your best skills, impressive qualifications and past experiences.
Try to include a couple of buzzwords that are relevant to the role or sector you’re applying to – i.e. “analytical”, “creative” or “entrepreneurial”.
Your education section should be listed in order of your most recent qualifications first. If you have just graduated from university, make sure that your degree result is displayed clearly, followed by your A-Levels and GCSE’s (you probably don’t need to list each GCSE and result separately, just 7As, 3Bs, and so on.)
If you are still at university, it’s acceptable to write a predicted grade – i.e. ‘currently working towards a BSc (Hons) Mathematics 2.1’.
If you are more experienced, you might have achieved some qualifications throughout your career – such as a CIMA or ACA qualification, or a CIM marketing qualification – so make sure you include these in the education section of your CV.
Employers will be interested in finding out about your previous roles and successes. If you’ve just left university, and are applying for graduate jobs, this might mean that you don’t have much work experience. Don’t despair - your work history should include all part-time jobs throughout school or university, as well as any placements, or volunteering experience.
Just like your education section, work backwards from your most recent role, and try not to leave any major gaps – i.e. if you took a gap after university or between graduate jobs, explain why these were rather than leaving the employer guessing.
If you have been working for a while, make sure to list each one of your graduate jobs, as well as a couple of bullet points listing your responsibilities and daily tasks. Make sure that you mention the responsibilities that are most relevant to this role when listing your previous graduate jobs.
This one isn’t mantatory – you may feel that you have already have covered your key skills in other sections of your CV. However, you might like to include a bulleted list of your skills, particularly if they are relevant to particular graduate schemes or graduate jobs you are applying to.
i.e. If you’re apply for media graduate jobs or marketing graduate jobs, an employer would be impressed to hear that you have creativity, good communication skills, or something more specific such as IT skills.
Next up should be your hobbies and interests – and it’s a good idea to ensure that these are applicable to the particular job you are applying to.
i.e. If you’re applying for accounting graduate jobs, your participation in the finance society at university would be impressive. Equally, if you’re applying for IT graduate jobs, any proven interest in learning about new technologies or upskilling in your spare time will be good here.
List your hobbies and interests in clear bullet points – and if you can, back them up with how you have developed this skill or acted upon the interest throughout your life.
It’s a good idea to include the sentence ‘References are available upon request’ at the bottom of your CV.
If the employer is impressed by you, they may wish to speak to your referees – so make sure you have two references on your CV available just in case. Even if you don't have any relevant work experience, you can use university lecturers, or anyone you have volunteered with.
Knowing how to structure a CV can be make or break when it comes to job applications – so if you’re looking for graduate jobs and you want to write a good CV, start by making sure you know what makes a great structure.
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