Download this CV template if you’re a recent graduate, have part-time or full-time work experience and are applying for a non-technical role. I’ve focused in this example on experience and skills that would be relevant for positions in marketing, business development, customer service, consultancy, sales and many other office-based jobs.
If you’ve not seen my post on ‘11 CV Graduate Mistakes to Avoid‘, make sure to read this first.
Graduate Career Tip #5: Follow these 13 Tips when Creating Your Graduate CV
1 – Your CV should be one page long. Although people will tell you two pages are acceptable, hiring managers often skim through your CV in about 20 – 30 seconds. Keeping your resume short, relevant and to the point will help you make the right impact at first look.
2 – If you are on LinkedIn, include a link to your profile. Employers will almost definitely look up you there, so save them having to search for your profile. If you’re not on LinkedIn, stop working on your CV, head over to LinkedIn and create an account.
3 – Some people suggest that you put your contact details at the bottom of your CV but, in the UK, it’s more common to have them towards the top of your CV. You don’t want to make it difficult for the hiring manager to invite you for an interview, so make it easy for them to find your contact details.
4 – Use subheadings to make your CV easy to read at a glance. Write in bullet points, not text-heavy paragraphs. Start every bullet point with a capital letter and end with a full stop. Write in clear sentences but you can leave out articles like ‘the’ and ‘a’.
5 – The ‘3-column’ layout makes your CV easier to follow and saves you space as you write ‘sideways’. Hide all borders. Use the ‘date-place-role’ order or change it to ‘role-place-date’. I would suggest that you put the most important details (date and role) in the first and last columns, as our eyes tend to go there and to ignore the middle column.
6 – List your experience in reverse order, from newest to oldest. Include start and end dates, but if you’re still in a job don’t put an end date – put ‘present’ instead. For clarity, I prefer putting the month(s) in brackets but, if you prefer, use this format: ‘September 2014 – June 2015’.
Want more job search and career tips? Here’s a Facebook group for you:
7 – Almost all graduate CV templates put education before employment. That’s the wrong way round. You should always start with your work experience, unless:
a) you don’t have any work experience, or
b) they want a specific degree / qualification – and you have this
8 – Use the past tense to talk about your achievements (‘managed’, ‘wrote’). If you’re in a job now, use the present tense (‘manage’, ‘write’) for this job. But if you need to talk about projects you’ve done or things you’ve achieved in your current job, it’s best to use a mixture of present and past tense. For the rest of your CV, use the past tense consistently.
9 – Write about your achievements, not your responsibilities. The hiring manager wants to know not what your job requires you to do but what you have done and how well you’ve done it. Say it using the present and past verb tenses I mentioned above (i.e. ‘deliver’, ‘manage’, ‘improved’, ‘created’). Don’t use the -ing form (‘delivering’, ‘managing’, etc) as this removes you from the action.
10 – Businesses want to know how you can help them make money or save money. So, whenever possible, quantify your achievements. If you’ve increased sales, by how much? If you’ve cut down customer wait times, by how many minutes / hours/ days / weeks? It’s not always possible to quantify what you do. If possible, ask your current supervisor to help you quantify or identify your achievements.
11 – In the education section, stick to your degree and senior school diploma. You don’t need to provide details of the subjects you’ve studied, unless the job description is asking for specific qualifications or abilities. For example, if they want someone with strong maths abilities and you had a strong grade in maths at school or university, you should mention this.
12 – Your ‘additional’ skills and experience should be relevant to the role or say something impressive about you. Don’t waste this section on random or boring stuff that everyone includes, like ‘Microsoft Word’ or ‘Full, clean driving licence’. Think about the abilities and experiences you have that might help you stand out.
13 – Mention any awards or other achievements, but, remember, your CV is a professional document. So, don’t write about your hobbies or things like ‘I have a swimming certificate’ or ‘Grade 6 violin’. Always ask yourself: ‘How will this information help the hiring manager? Does it say anything about my abilities, attitude or personality that shows I can the job and / or I’ll fit into the organisation?’.
Always look closely at the requirements of the job you’re applying for and adapt your CV to match the job. If you’re applying for a job outside the UK, I’d recommend you research the local requirements as you’ll probably need to change, add or delete some bits.
Download the CV Template