Top 10 CV tips for Graduates
If you’re a graduate looking for your first role in marketing, digital or technology, you’ll probably already understand that competition is tough out there, and so you need to try and stand out!. Your CV is your opportunity to sell yourself to a company, so you should bear in mind some of the basic marketing principles when writing your own, like delivering a clear and concise message and knowing your audience.
Working for Forward Role, the North West’s leading recruitment company for the Marketing, Digital and technology, I’ve seen some really outstanding CV’s, some not-so-good ones and some down-right awful attempts (like one example where the candidate lists “Marijuana Dealer and Nefarious Dude” as a previous employment!) But where is it that people are going wrong, and how can job-seekers ensure that they absolutely nail this first opportunity to present themselves to potential employers? Well, you’ve come to the right place!!
Below, I have outlined my top 10 tips for getting your CV right first time:
This may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people don’t do this: always begin your CV with a “Personal Details” section – that is name, address, email and contact number. If you want to be really snazzy, you could even include your Linked In address! Don’t think you are being elusive and mysterious by not including a contact number. Recruitment companies and employers alike want to at least speak to their candidates, as it the best way to get to know them before actually meeting them. If you don’t include a number, you’ll be letting many opportunities pass you by.
After your personal details it is a good idea to write a short “Profile” section. Now, most people use this area to spout key phrases such as “works well in a team” and “excellent work ethic”, but these common-place buzz words don’t necessarily add anything/strengthen your application. Why not try something different and use your profile as an opportunity to tell the reader what you will bring to their company e.g. “As a graduate with a 2:1 Marketing BA from The University of Manchester, I am looking to secure a position in an organisation where I can utilise my current skillset by creating successful PR and marketing strategies to enhance the profile of the business.” You don’t want to go too far with this ‘standing out from the crowd’ business, so try to avoid comments like “I’ll pop in tomorrow to get my paperwork all signed up. No need for an interview, trust me you’ll love me” (genuinely an extract from a real CV!)
Once you’ve completed this bit, include details of your “Education”. With graduates, this part should be more comprehensive than candidates with more work experience, so you should list relevant modules alongside your degree. You may want to also do this with suitable A-levels, but for GCSEs, a simple “9 GCSEs Grades A – C”, will be sufficient.
Your “Employment History” comes next. This should consist of relevant work experience, and details of any placement years or internships completed. If you want, you can summarise other roles you have undertaken (like bar/restaurant work) but don’t go in to too much detail with this. Your future employer doesn’t need to know that in your time working at the Student Union you arranged the Christmas Rugby Social, which included a few rounds of Ring of Fire, a naked run (except for Santa Hats) around the campus, followed by a ‘dirty pint’.
Next, write down any other courses you have completed or qualifications you have achieved in an “Other Skills” paragraph. You may want to include things such as languages, technical abilities or computer-related talents. Your prowess in the bedroom (wink wink) or your ability to down four pints in 60 seconds is not the type of “skill” we’re looking for here. Be honest with this bit, as it may be the cause of an awkward conversation down the line when you’re quizzed on this in an interview… in French! (knowing “Bonjour” and “une bière s'il vous plait” doesn’t count as ‘being fluent’, so don’t write this if you’re not prepared to conduct the full interview in that language)
Then comes the “Interests” section. You don’t always have to include this, but it can help differentiate your application from the rest of the CVs that come across an employer’s desk, and make you seem more personable. Keep it light, in bullet points or a few sentences, and include hobbies or interests that best define your personality. So, if you enjoy a bit of sky-diving or hill walking, stick it on there. Entries like “getting hammered with my mates all weekend” are probably best left out!!
A maximum of two References can be added at the bottom, or you can simply put “Available on request” or leave this part out altogether. Companies won’t usually request references until after a first interview stage anyway, so as long as you have a few relevant contacts in mind then you can provide details at a later stage.
Keep the format of your CV plain and easy to read, and use appropriate language – remember you are addressing a potential employer. Also, check for mistakes. You should proof-read the final document yourself, and also ask someone else to double-check as you and spell-check may have missed something. Don’t be the apparent cannibal who forget his punctuation when detailing his hobbies: “My interests include cooking dogs and interesting people”
As mentioned in the first paragraph, remember your audience. There is nothing wrong with tailoring your CV to suit different roles. Just don’t forget to make sure you’re sending the right CV to the right role, as that mistake could be embarrassing!
Two pages is an ideal length for a graduate CV. Make sure you keep the information concise and to the point. You don’t want the reader to be put off by long-winded ramblings and scroll past to the next applicant.
Forward Role are the UK's leading marketing, digital and technology recruiter, working with the most exciting brands across the UK. We are currently recruiting entry level roles, so why not Send Us Your CV and start your career journey with us!