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Tips on How to Write an Effective Graduate CV

Posted by Devina Tarin

Your CV or curriculum vitae, is one of the most important factors in getting the job that you want as it helps you stand out and can be seen as a form of marketing or advertising where you must sell yourself to employers and have it tailored to what they are looking for. A CV is essential for when you want to apply for full-time jobs, part-time, internal, external, promotions, new jobs, career changes, internships and work placements with experts saying there are some golden rules in getting your right CV aside from accuracy, spelling and grammar.

Your CV template structure would most likely have these sub headings:

  • Heading

  • The heading is generally your name followed by ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae'
  • Personal Profile

  • Do not write a novel of your autobiography and only give key points that describes you and your strengths. Be confident and positive when writing your key statements. Also, instead of writing a personal statement, you could replace it with a career summary in what you want to do and why to showcase your future focus and direction. This usually grabs an employer's attention as most applicants are still unsure of what they want to do.
  • Experience (and/or Specialisms or Capabilities)

  • Experience is a bullet point description of your capabilities, not your career history. Ensure the experience you write down meet the requirements and are relevant to the type of job that you are applying for. As a graduate, you won’t have as much work experience in which you would refer to other aspects of your like experience such as experience in college or university, your hobbies, extracurricular activities such as social and sports achievements, clubs, and part-time jobs
  • Achievements

  • A description of your major achievements and ensure they refer to facts, figures and time scales. They should be the evidence of what you claim in your personal profile and be relevant to your potential role
  • Career History

  • A summary of your career history and start with the most recent or present job and end with the first. Show starting and finishing years as well as company name, city address, and your job title. Graduates generally have little work experience and so this section can be combine with the Experience section and prove the qualities that you have gained through your experience
  • Personal Details

  • This information should be succinct and would include your contact details such as your full name, sex, address, phone number, email as well as optional information on education, qualifications and references
  • Education and Qualifications

  • Depending on the employer and job vacancy, it is often better to separate your education and qualifications rather than in your Personal Details for emphasis and should be put at the top of your CV

 

When writing your experience, make sure to not only point out what you have done but also what you have achieved and gained from that experience. Using numbers and statistics would be an added extra in getting your potential employer’s attention as they add value.

Corinne Mills, a managing director of Personal Career Management has given tips on how to make your CV short but as effective as possible such as1:

  • Simple format and font – two pages of A4 with active language is recommended and keep it concise and direct without any waffling. This would help your employer read your CV without any difficulty as a CV is another way for potential employers to tick the boxes for the requirements and allows you a better chance of getting an interview
  • Tailor to specific job – have your CV relevant to the job application instead of sending the same generic CV to broaden your chances and stand out by selecting key skills that relate to the job description
  • Include key information – personal details such as name, address, phone number, email address and any professional social media should be put in your mini profile and clear
  • Showcase achievements – show your achievements that are related to the job you are applying at and always be honest. You can also include your good qualities such as leadership, teamwork, creativity, reliability and others
  • Check and double check – avoid having sloppy errors and mistakes in your CV and always ask for a second opinion from a trusted friend or colleague

 

Always be honest with your work as usually you’d have to have a reliable reference to back you up for your interview if you were to be called in. With this, you can also increase your value in being a first-choice or short-listed candidate by emphasising the availability of your references and ensuring that your reliable referees are prepared and able to provide excellent references. If you’ve never worked before you can use your professor or tutor as a referee.

When writing your CV, there are also a few things you would want to avoid putting in, including:

  • Do not add race, religion, political preferences, nationality, date of birth or marital status as these are irrelevant in working life and help avoid discrimination
  • Do not exaggerate your achievements or experience, as said before be honest with what you have done as employers do check
  • Do not claim full responsibility for your achievements and discredit other people you worked with
  • Do not use initials to complicate your writing as it would not be clear and harder to understand

 

Also be sure to keep your CV updated on a regular basis after you have done something new where you have gained new skills and/or experience that could be relevant for your future career.


1 Peachy, K., How to write a successful CV, BBC, 2015


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