In today’s post, I’ll share with you 13 tips for writing an impressive graduate CV that will help you showcase your talent and stand out from the crowd. Download and customise the free template to apply for a job in marketing, business development, customer service, consultancy, sales and many other office-based jobs.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to first read my post on ‘11 Graduate CV Mistakes to Avoid‘.
#1 Keep it short.
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 Include your LinkedIn profile.
If you are on LinkedIn, include a link to your profile as employers will almost definitely look you up there. If you’re not on LinkedIn, stop working on your CV and head over to LinkedIn to create your profile. Don’t be the candidate who gets rejected because they could be found nowhere on the world’s largest professional network.
#3 Make contacting you easy.
You may be wondering whether you should put your contact details at the top or at the bottom of your CV. I would recommend putting them at the top as you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for a hiring manager to contact you.
#4 Use subheadings and bullet points.
Use subheadings to make your CV easy to read. For the same reason, write in bullet points, not text-heavy paragraphs.
The next two tips depend on personal style. I tend to start every bullet point with a capital letter and end with a full stop. Also, whilst you should write in clear and complete sentences, the definite and indefinite articles (‘the’ and ‘a’) can often be left out.
#5 Keep the layout simple.
As you can see from the free CV template available for you to download at the bottom of this article, I use the ‘3-column’ layout and I hide all borders. It’s clean, clear and easy to follow. Use the ‘date-place-role’ order as provided in the template, or change it to ‘role-place-date’.
#6 List newest to oldest.
List your experience in reverse order, that is from newest to oldest. Include start and end dates, but if you’re still in a job write ‘present’ instead of the end date.
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#7 Start with your work experience.
b) the employer is placing most emphasis on a specific degree or qualification, and you meet this requirement.
#8 Use the right tense.
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 Say what you did, not what you were supposed to do.
Write about your achievements, not your responsibilities. If you use the -ing form of verbs, (‘delivering’, ‘managing’, etc) you would be saying what your job requires you to do. What you should do instead is say that you have done—and how well you have done it. You can achieve this by using the present/past tenses as explained above (i.e. ‘deliver/delivered’, ‘manage/managed’, ‘improve/improved’, ‘create/created’).
#10 Try to use numbers.
To put it broadly, businesses often want to know how you can help them make or save money. Therefore, whenever possible, try to quantify your achievements. For example, if you say you have increased sales, say by how much. If you’ve cut down customer wait times, by how many minutes/hours/days/weeks?
If in doubt, you could ask your current supervisor to help you quantify or identify your achievements. If they are the person providing your work reference, this will also help as a reminder for them to mention these achievements in their recommendation letter.
#11 Leave out unnecessary details.
When writing about your qualifications, 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 seems to require this. For example, if they want someone with strong mathematics abilities and you did well in this subject at school or university, then it’s worthwhile mentioning.
#12 Make your additional skills and hobbies relevant.
Your ‘additional’ skills and awards sections should be relevant to the role or should say something impressive about you. Don’t waste this section on random or irrelevant stuff, like ‘full, clean driving licence’ or ‘swimming certificate’. Think about the abilities and experiences that might help you stand out. You could also include your hobbies, but make sure they say something positive and memorable about you and your personality.
#13 Proofread before you hit ‘Send’.
One final tip…
Always look closely at the requirements of the job you’re applying for and adapt your CV to match the job. In other words, once you have written your CV, you may need to create a slightly different version each time you apply for a job, as every company and position are likely to have different requirements.
As always, let me know in the comments if these tips have helped. Good luck with the job hunt!
Download the CV Template