Creating your CV for your first job role after graduating will depend on what work experience you have and how aligned your degree is to your career ambition. “But I don’t have any work experience” I can hear you say, “so what I am supposed to put down”. Well its vital to consider everything you have done e.g. academic work, voluntary work, project-based work.
Your CV should:
Present all the relevant skills and accomplishments but don’t make the list exhaustive. Introduce yourself as a promising candidate ready for the role and challenges. Tell a story of your professional experience to date. Reflect something of your character through your personal statement and interests.
The layout should:
Use simple fonts and ensure you have used the same font and size throughout the CV.Use bold or italics to emphasise job roles rather than underlining. Use bullet points for formatting especially when listing work experience of education. Ensure all headings are aligned with each other and a consistent style. Split your CV into sections to list your qualities such as personal profile, work experience, education etc., and make sure you put the most recent first and list going backwards. Aim for no more than 2 pages or the reader may lose interest. Ensure you have read the job specification and tailor your CV to include relevant factors that the company are looking for.
Recruiters will usually scan a CV looking for keywords for them to decide if the CV is worthy of spending more time reading it. Some companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems) that filter CV’s in response to job adverts looking for those that are most suitable. Read job description and person specifications of your target job and this will give you a feel for the keywords employers are looking for.
These are items that you will put at the very top of your CV to let the employer know about you but don’t include your date of birth, marital status, gender or a photo of yourself. Essential details to include are your full name, postal address, email address and your telephone number.
This section is short and to the point. Here you need to show the employer you are focused and determined to pursue a career in that chosen field. Show them you are someone who will fit into their team. Give an overview of your current situation, “I have just graduated with a degree in…”. Be positive and to the point and specifically detail what job you are looking for. The key is to tailor this to the job specification so it will be different for every application that you make.
Write your education in reverse chronological order starting with your university degree. The employer wants to see a snapshot of your education and not a full blow history of everything since primary school! Include the name of the institution, date you attended, type of qualification you gained, details of other skills acquired including IT, languages etc. Don’t forget to add any courses to your CV even if you have not yet completed them, it shows your commitment to learning a new skill.
You might find this bit difficult but have a good think about everything you have done so far. Have you been part of any student internships, voluntary work or summer placements? If you have developed relevant transferable skills then it’s worth writing it on your CV. Again, your experience needs to be written in reverse chronological order stating the company you worked with, date you attended, brief description of the role you performed and the skills and achievements you developed whilst there.
Interests and activities:
This is the place to talk a little about your personality outside of work. Mention activities or hobbies that make you shine. Try to explain a little about each one and why you participate in it. If you have taken a gap year, definitely mention this, and explain where you went and what your learned.
Finally, PROOF READ it thoroughly! Leave it overnight and read it again the next morning with a fresh pair of eyes. Possibly even get a friend to read it over for you. Read it out loud to check the tone and that it flows well. Make sure you have backed up your claims with evidence or stories. There is nothing worse than being caught out during the interview because you have stretched the truth.