When it comes to finding that all important graduate job, you need to have a CV that shows you're the right person for the role you're applying for. Your CV should contain some information about you, your relevant skills and your achievements. It should also summarise your work experience to date (relevant work experience and other work experience) and give a rounded picture of who you are by adding information about your interests and any relevant achievements outside your professional life. You do not need to list every achievement, every course you've ever taken or ramble on about your gap year.
A successful CV is one that is concise and clear. Unless you are a design graduate, it is not advisable to get too creative with your CV. Ensure you make it as straightforward as possible, with an accessible and standard font. You should also avoid garish colours – especially if you are applying to a corporate or conservative company.
If you're looking for some quick top tips on how to make your CV stand out, read our blog on CV tips you may not have heard before.
Who reads your CV?
Typically, graduate CVs are read by either recruiters or hiring managers, sometimes both. Recruiters are typically brought in by an employer to help with recruiting. They may help with the initial search process, sifting through CVs and contacting potential candidates by phone or social media; or they may manage the whole recruitment process.
Hiring managers are typically employees of the organisation looking to hire graduates for roles within their company. A hiring manager could be your future manager or someone who works in human resources, or both.
Graduate CV layout
Typically, a graduate CV is broken up in the following way:
- Contact details
- Personal statement
- Technical Skills
- Relevant work experience
- Other work experience (optional)
- Extra-curricular activities/ leadership positions (optional)
Ideally, try and keep your CV to two pages, however, do not do so at the expense of relevant information. Recruiters and hiring managers will have many CVs and applications to get through and keeping your CV concise and to the point may help you get to the next stage. Please keep in mind that there are many ways in which to write a CV and tailoring it to the role you are applying for is key.
The first thing that should be on your CV is your contact details, which should include your:
- Telephone number
You will be surprised how many people leave this vital piece of information off their CV. You may have the perfect CV, but if the person reading it can’t get in touch with you, they can’t offer you an interview.
Think of your personal statement as a mission statement, which sums up to the prospective employer, why you are right for the job. Keep your personal statement brief (no more than 100 words) and avoid buzzwords such as: dynamic, team player and ‘CV legend' (a real example). While time-consuming, we recommend tailoring your personal statement to the specific job you are applying for. Stay away from generic CVs and cover letters.
Top tip: make it easy for the CV reader and specify what you are looking for e.g “I am looking for a position as a… “
Depending on the industry you are looking to work in, detailing your technical skills is very important. If you are looking to work in IT or engineering, it is vital that your CV includes this section. Ultimately, it is up to you how you divide your skill up as there is no set way. Here are two examples:
- Microsoft office
- Linux (self-taught)
- Automated testing
Another way of presenting your skills may be to group them together. For example:
Software: Microsoft Office, Adobe Create Suite and CAD
Servers: Dell Power Edge Servers
Education should always be written in reverse chronological order and you should always ensure that you include the grade for your degree. This will save recruiters or hiring managers from having to chase you up for it. As always, keep this part concise and include the following:
- Degree and grade obtained
- The dates that you attended your school, college and university.
- A-levels or other technical qualifications gained in Sixth form or college
- Other qualifications such as professional qualifications
For science graduates, we recommend including the relevant scientific techniques you have covered and studied, including gas chromatography and PCR, etc. These can be included both in the technical skills section and under education. If relevant, including your project or dissertation title and a short summary can sometimes be helpful to read also.
Top tip: Put your course end date on your CV so those looking to hire for the role can see when you graduated
Relevant work experience
Like your education, your relevant work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order. If you don't have much in the way of work experience in your field, make sure you list any internships or summer placements you may have done that are relevant to the role you are applying for. Also, don't forget to include any voluntary positions you may have done or other roles of responsibly you've held. Your relevant work experience should include:
- The name of the company or organisation
- The dates you worked there
- A short sentence outlining the role, responsibilities and any achievements that you had
Other work experience
If you’ve had other work experience that may not be directly relevant to the position, include it under other work experience. This section can include any part-time jobs you may have had while studying, working for your family's business or summer jobs you've undertaken. Again, make sure you include the name of the company, dates you worked there and the core aspect of the role.
This section is all about detailing your skills that are not necessarily related to essential technical skills for your job. This can include more soft skills such as working within a team, attention to detail, languages that you speak and any awards or leadership skills you may have gained.
Organisations do not want to employ robots; so let your personality shine through. However, ensure the interests and hobbies you list are appropriate. If you enjoy a certain sport or interest, try and back it up with how you play for a team or if you like trail running, for instance, mention any completed or up and coming trail running races you have signed up for. This is also the place to detail any travelling you may have done including any stints working abroad. Lastly, if you are a member of any clubs or societies, add it to this section.
Once you have put together your CV, it is vital that you get someone to proofread it. Spell checkers are getting better but they are not perfect, so ensuring that a human has read it over before you send it out is always a wise move.
CV tips for IT Graduates:
Each sector will have its conventions when it comes to CVs. If you are an IT graduate, here are out top tips for CV success:
- Include the programming languages that you are familiar with
- Back these up with a short description of any projects you have done
- Make sure you mentioned any projects you have done outside of University as employers really like to see this
- Don’t be too specific with your personal statement if you are applying to a variety of roles, e.g “wanting to work for a start-up” will exclude you from other companies
CV Tips for Engineering
As engineering covers a wide range of roles, we have come up with four universal tips that should help any engineering graduate build a winning CV:
- Within education, detail any group projects, individual projects and dissertation, as well as any relevant modules studied
- Always put your degree grade and any higher education grades (HND, A-levels etc.)
- Detail any commercial experience even if not directly relevant to engineering
- Detail any aspects of engineering you have studied or practiced in your spare time
Download our CV Examples today:
Are you a STEM graduate looking for your first role? Then submit your CV to us and get the ball rolling on your job hunt.