Five steps to creating the perfect graduate CV

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Close up of a man using a laptop to write his CV with a coffee, books, a pair of glasses and a coffee mug on the desk.

When you’re fresh out of university with just a handful of summer placements and a weighty dissertation under your belt, it can sometimes be unclear to know what to include within the content of your CV. Which details would potential employers be interested in? With so little work experience, how can you convince them you’re the right person for the job?

As a graduate with few professional achievements to show off, the format and content of your CV is all the more important. Impressing your future employer with simple details like strong formatting, education and enthusiasm is critical. These are the five steps you can take to help you in your journey to the perfect entry-level role:

1. Write a strong personal statement

Your personal statement should be tailored to the role you’re applying for. This means that each CV should be adjusted and considered against the job description or job advert. While this may seem like overkill and you might be tempted to send out a wave of generic CVs in the hope that one sticks, it will pay to take a more bespoke approach. Your personal statement should sit beneath your personal information, and should answer the following questions: who you are, what you can offer, and what your professional goals are. This is an opportunity to convey your enthusiasm, which counts for a lot at graduate level.

2. Education and work experience

Your education should include the subjects you’ve studied and the grades achieved for your degree, A-levels and GCSEs.

Include the most relevant work experience you’ve completed to-date as well. Noting a 6-week internship in an office environment is important if you’re applying for an office-based role; the hiring manager will want to see this without having to wade through pages of bar work and hospitality jobs.

3. Strong formatting

At a graduate level, your CV should be no longer than one page. Make it clear and concise, so that it’s not difficult to for people to find what they’re looking for. We see a number of CVs from candidates obviously wishing to stand out with floral embellishments or elaborate colour palettes. They do stand out, but for the wrong reasons! Use one typeface throughout and no more than two font sizes. For more detail on our recommended format, click here.

4. Extra-curricular activities

Extra-curricular activities can tell a substantial story to your potential employer about the kind of person you are. Listing your personal interests is also a great conversation-starter in interview and may well mean you can develop a better rapport with your interviewer. If you have been particularly proactive in your extra-curricular activities, you should include the details of your roles and achievements.

5. Referees

If you have been lucky enough to have completed work experience, include the details of your previous employer. If not, a professional mentor or longstanding family friend may suffice. If you don’t feel comfortable including their personal phone number and email address, that’s ok. Just include a simple statement: available upon request. No one will doubt your professional integrity if you wish to notify them ahead of time that someone might be calling.

If you’d like to take part in any CV writing or interview training, get in touch today.

Author Rebecca Siciliano Tiger Recruitment Team

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