Graduate CV example
So, you’ve graduated from University (congrats!) and it’s time to get your foot on the career ladder.
If you want to land the best graduate roles out there, you need a strong CV that sets you apart from the competition and gets you noticed by recruiters and employers.
Your CV is your marketing document as a candidate, so it needs to look professional, and show employers that you’ve got the skills they need.
This guide, which includes a real-life graduate CV example, will show you exactly how to create an interview-winning graduate CV that will get you shortlisted by plenty of leading companies.
- Graduate CV Example
- Graduate CV Structure
- CV Profile/ Personal Statement
- Relevant Projects
- Work Experience/Career History
- Interest and Hobbies
Graduate CV Example
Now, I will walk you through the writing of your own unique CV, detailing what to include in each section and how to adapt the content to the sector you’re applying for.
What is a CV?
It acts as your introduction to a potential employer, and aims to show them why you are the perfect candidate for their vacancy.
A good CV will get you plenty of responses and interviews, whereas a poor CV will usually get ignored.
Who reads your CV?
When you apply for a job via email or a job website, a recruiter or hiring manager will receive it and review it.
A recruiter could work for an external recruitment agency, or directly for the employer and they’re responsible for finding the right applicants for that organisation’s roles, acting as a middle-man between you and the hiring manager.
A hiring manager is a team leader or manager who is looking to fill a role within their team, they will most likely be your supervisor if you’re successful in securing the position.
Quick tip: Hiring managers and recruiters are normally very busy people, and they see lots of CVs on a daily basis. Bear this in mind when writing your CV and always try to make it concise and easy to read.
Graduate CV structure & format
The infographic below gives some basic pointers on how to format and style a standard CV to enable ease of reading and highlight your most relevant talents. This format needs to be tweaked slightly when focusing on graduate roles- how to do this will be covered throughout this guide,
CV formatting tips
- A CV should ideally be no longer than 2 sides of A4 to cater for modern attention spans and keep readers interested
- Stick to a basic clean font and colour scheme – simple styling makes the document a pleasant read and keeps it looking professional
- Break up text using bullet points and headers to aid the flow of information and make it less tedious to read.
- Pictures and logos deflect from the substance and waste valuable space on your CV - so avoid using them.
Structuring your Graduate CV
When writing your CV, divide it up into the following sections:
- Contact details – Should be at the top of the page to ensure they aren’t missed.
- Profile – This is an intro/overview of your talents, forming a good first impression and allowing the recruiter to gain a quick insight into your suitability for roles.
- Relevant Projects – As your work experience may be limited, look to document projects you have been part of that relate to your target roles.
- Education – List your qualifications, detail any areas of expertise.
- Work experience / career history– Add any previous work experience in reverse chronological order.
- Interest and hobbies – An optional section to highlight hobbies that can demonstrate your skills that can transition into the working world.
CV Contact Details
When you trying to get responses from recruiters, it’s essential that they can easily find your contact information, so make sure it stays at the top of the 1st page.
Only relevant and basic details are required so keep to the below:
- Phone Number – This will ideally be your mobile number so that you can respond to calls quickly.
- Email address – Use a professional email address, preferably one that consists of your first name and last name - no nicknames!
- Location – If you’re currently between your university residence and your home location, add the city in which you’re searching for work.
- If you have a LinkedIn account then you could also add a link to your profile, although this is not essential.
Graduate CV Profile/ Personal Statement
Your personal statement or profile, is an introductory paragraph which sits at the top of your CV, and it’s aim is to draw recruiters in by showcasing your most relevant qualifications, skills and experience.
Quick tip: Do some research to find out what skills your desired employers are looking for by browsing through relevant job adverts.
Below is an example of a strong graduate CV profile.
This is the type of content you should be including in your CV personal statement:
Educational history – The degree field you studied and what specialist knowledge or practical abilities you took away from your education.
Workplace skills – Include hard skills like languages, IT system knowledge, writing skills, sales, marketing etc. Avoid using too many soft skills (team work, communication, organisation etc.) as these are needed for most jobs and won’t make you stand out.
Work experience – If you’ve secured any internship placements or had any prior work experience you should mention it, especially if the work relates to your target roles.
Interest in your desired field – As a junior candidate, there may not be much to differentiate you from other graduates, so describing your passion for the career you are pursuing can show employers you will be a serious committed hire. (You should also include this in your cover letter)
Core skills and achievements section
A bullet pointed list of impressive skills and achievements is a great way to catch recruiters’ eyes and give them a snapshot of your talents within seconds of them opening the CV.
You can include relevant workplace skills, or any academic achievements or positions of responsibility such as being a prefect or leading a student club.
This is an optional extra section to evidence any projects you were involved in during your degree, whilst at work, or even as part of your extra curricular activities - think of projects that would be beneficial to the industry you’re applying to for best results.
Be specific, documenting your exact responsibilities and consider any relevant facts or figures that will add more credibility to your examples, such as timelines of the projects and outputs.
Break up projects using bullet points and giving a bold header to each one, allowing ease of reading.
Your educational experience will be detailed throughout your CV, but this section is reserved for recording all qualifications you have achieved for completeness.
It’s important to include all of your qualifications from GCSEs upwards as some companies have strict educational entrance policies for grad roles (e.g. must have 5 GCSEs A-C)
Add depth to your education, including the level of each qualification completed, dates of achievement and institute in which you studied, as well as any important modules covered.
Begin with your most recent qualification (probably your degree) and work in a backwards chronological order.
You will need to include lots of detail on your degree because that is the area recruiters are likely to be most interested in.
You may not have any direct paid work experience, or you may have some part-time retail or restaurant waiting experience.
You may have undertaken a work placement with school or university.
Or, you may have voluntary work experience.
Whatever experience you have, it’s important to use it to show how you apply your skills in the workplace.
Generally speaking you should list your work experience in reverse chronological order – however, if you have work placements that relate to the roles you are applying for, you need to prioritise them and place them at the top of your work experience to ensure they get seen.
If you are struggling with a lack of work experience, check out the infographic below which shows some actionable points for improving your CV when you have little or no experience.
Structuring your Roles
Break up the information in your roles by using clearly divided sections and bullet points - below is the structure you should be working towards.
For each role, briefly describing the goal of the role and the organisation you were employed within.
“Assisting a team of senior designers to produce a range of clothing items for luxury womens brand”
List your activities in short sharp bullet points and try to show your impact on the business.
- Handling customer complaints to resolve issues and protect the reputation of the business
- Attending briefing meetings and taking notes to provide a record of outputs
To really prove your value, try to include some impressive achievements you have made that have had a positive effect on your employer.
Try to back your claims up with facts and figures where possible
- Formatted 10 presentation slides which supported sales team in closing 5 sales in 1 month
- Resolved 98% of complaints within recommended 10 day time frame
Hobbies and Interests
The hobbies segment of your CV is optional, but if you have limited work experience this is an opportunity to showcase any relevant talents you have gained through extra-curricular activities.
Some good hobbies to include as a graduate are:
Sports clubs – If you play in (or lead) a sports club, this can be a great way to demonstrate your teamwork, leadership, communication and organisation abilities.
Personal projects – E.g. If you are applying for writing jobs and you run your own personal blog, there will be lots of relevant skills you can draw from your experience there.
Impressive feats – If you’ve run a marathon or climbed a mountain, this can prove that you are a driven individual and make you stand out from the crowd.
Writing your Graduate CV – Conclusion
Writing a graduate CV can be tough, especially when you have little or no work experience.
But, if you follow the guidelines above and draw on your education and extra-curricular activities to showcase plenty of skills, you should be able to create a winning CV.
Keep the format simple and focus on creating a pleasant reading experience to ensure that your CV gets the attention it deserves.
Landing that first job will be a challenge, so be prepared to put plenty of work in and apply for as many jobs as you can whilst networking on LinkedIn and seeking out companies speculatively.
Good luck with the job search!
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