An excellent graduate CV is the difference between getting a positive response from prospective employers and no response at all.
We’ll take you through 4 of the best tips for writing a graduate CV that demonstrates what you’ve accomplished in the past and indicates what you are capable of achieving in the future.
So if you need to write an accomplishments-based CV that makes you stand out from other candidates, keep reading!
#1: Identify your Career Typology
Leaving University can be an exciting but also daunting time. After studying hard and taking your exams, entering the job market can feel like a large leap into a new world.
During this time, many graduates panic and apply for multiple jobs without taking the time to first assess their skills and work out what graduate job roles are right for them.
Chris Davies from Graduate Coach always advises candidates to do two key things before writing their graduate CV.
The first thing is to identify your career typology, as graduate jobs can be categorised into the following 3 groups:
- Specialist: This category includes roles within fields such as engineering, science and medicine. These graduates are hired for their core expertise within a particular area.
- Knowledge Architect: This category includes roles within consultancy, logistics, marketing, finance etc. Graduates are employed in these roles due to their ability to interpret data and deliver insights from them.
- Communicator: Graduate roles within this category include account managers, salespeople and hospitality.
➡️ Action point: from this list, identify which of the three categories describes you best.
#2: Complete a Skills Audit
Once you’ve identified what career typology suits you best you’ll be able to identify suitable graduate roles.
With this knowledge, you can then perform a tailored skills audit.
➡️ Action point: Identify the job role that is suited to you. Then using job descriptions online compile all the skills and competencies you need to demonstrate in order to be successful in that role.
In a table format, list out the required skills and competencies in one column, and in the column next to it, using the STAR format, give an example of how you have demonstrated that skill in the past.
The STAR format
- Situation – What was the situation that you or your employer faced?
- Task – What tasks were involved in that situation?
- Action – What actions did you take?
- Result – What were the results of those actions?
Your completed skills audit will provide a solid foundation for you to write your achievements-based graduate CV.
#3: Writing your Achievement-based CV
The next step is to write your graduate CV. Your CV must convince the employer that you should be given the job that you are applying for. Think of it like a sales pitch.
You’ll want to include:
A Personal Statement – this is the first section the interviewer will see. Use it to attract attention. In a few short sentences, tell the employer who you are, what you are looking for and what you can offer in return.
Key skills and achievements – Try using powerful opening action verbs to describe each achievement you have completed in relation to your roles, and more importantly University experience.
Then follow up with impressive results or outcomes so your achievements can be measured, An example could be ‘Successfully transformed’ or ‘Inspired fellow classmates’.
These openings can then form the start of a bullet point where you can go on to state what was achieved. Think about writing your University experience like you would a job role.
This style can really help when entering the job market and it also shows the reader you have thought through what is needed from the CV.
Academic achievements – in this section you’ll need to include your degree grade.
You can also include other achievements that you gained whilst at university. Many graduates omit achievements from activities such as volunteering, marketing for the student union or organising an event for a society or club.
Non-academic achievements – Once you have your University and College experience on page one of the CV, then add any employment experience you have.
This can include placements you may have undertaken and also part-time or summer jobs.
Again, highlight what skills and achievements you have made and pick ones that would help in the role applied for.
As your career develops your work history will eventually move to page one above your education; so remember to keep your CV updated and change its style as you become more experienced.
4: Review the structure and formatting of your CV
How your CV looks on paper is very important.
Ensure that the typeface (font) and the font that you are using is consistent throughout your CV.
Conventional typefaces such as Times New Roman or Arial are best when it comes to writing your CV. Avoid using informal fonts such as Comic Sans.
When it comes to font size, you’ll want your name at the top to be larger than the rest of the text so that it stands out. You may also use a slightly larger font size for headings. The remaining body text should all be the same size and no smaller than size 11.
Final Thoughts From Chris Pennington, Founder of Your CV consultant
Once you have completed the steps above, review your finished CV. Then review it again!
It’s really important there are no spelling or grammatical errors as that can lessen the impact of the document.
You should now have a well designed, thought-provoking, and professional looking CV that showcases your skills and shows how you can benefit the company and role applied for.
If this is done correctly it can really help you stand out from the crowd and your University peers.
Your CV can then give you the edge so you can get those important interviews and all your University experience will have added depth to your history.
It may also have given you an advantage over more experienced applicants making YOU the ideal candidate for the role!
About Chris Pennington
Your CV Consultant was founded by Chris Pennington who has had a successful 15-year career within Financial Solutions Management and as a Personal Insolvency Specialist. Within this time he has built up experience within CV Assessment, Recruitment, Interviewing Candidates, and Career Coaching.