4 Of the Best Tips for Writing a Winning Graduate CV from Your CV Consultant

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!

➡️ Editor’s comments: For this post, we’ve collaborated with Chris Pennington, the Director at Your CV Consultant.

#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.

Nail That Interview Online Course

Once you have a winning CV, the next stage will be ‘the interview’. A CV is all about getting a candidate to this part of the process. Not everyone though is a natural or experienced at them. Interviews can be improved by practice. However, sometimes that is not enough. Your CV Consultant have therefore teamed up with Graduate Coach. Using their expertise, they offer a ‘Nail That Interview‘ course. We believe this course can make all the difference in getting offered the job you are looking for. Module 1 – I CAN do the job – contains the Graduate Coach Skills Audit and the 9 Employability Skills.

How to coach yourself into the right career

With so many different graduate career choices on offer how can you reduce the chances of choosing badly? Our blog on how to coach yourself into the right career can help. 

Many graduates invest great energy into the process of finding a job without giving due attention to the most important step in choosing the right career, which is to get to know yourself.

Of course, you have an idea of what you like and dislike and, perhaps, your strengths and weaknesses, but there are different levels of self-awareness which, once achieved, can help you to make the right career choice.

Why is this key?

Your career choice determines your future, that’s why we place so much emphasis on it. Your lifestyle, and economic and social status all rest on this decision. Most importantly, it also has a huge impact on your emotional well-being and happiness. Springing out of bed in the mornings is a lot easier when you enjoy what you do.

Ninety-per cent of the graduates who come to me for career coaching will end up changing their minds about the kind of work they want to do. After a bit of probing and discussion they begin to see that, actually, they are best suited to something else. Getting to know yourself can clarify the career steps you should take.

So, how can you coach yourself to choose the right career? It is important that you start by placing your own skills, interests, experiences, strengths and even weaknesses at the centre of making the right choice.

Step One: Audit your skills

The first step we take our graduates through is to audit their skills. A skills audit is a stock take of the skills you have.

When auditing your skills, you should include both paid and unpaid work as it all counts towards your experience. Remember to include your hobbies and interests, as these also count.

Step Two: Check your skills against those employers look for

Once you’ve listed your skills, check them against what potential employers are looking for. There are at least nine employability skills that all employers say they look for in a new hire.

These are:

  1. Business awareness – you have strong awareness of how the company makes money, how they compete with other brands and how they can reduce costs
  2. Communication – you can get your point across clearly, verbally and in writing
  3. Analytical – you can interpret data into practical, easy-to-use information
  4. Resilience – you keep going in the face of what may seem like failure or lack of result
  5. Problem solving – you automatically look for the best solution to overcome an obstacle
  6. Self-management – you know how to use your own initiative and manage your own behaviour and well-being
  7. Organisation – you can organise your own workload, time and priorities
  8. Teamwork – you can work well with others to achieve a shared objective
  9. Entrepreneurial – you have good innovative ideas and leadership skills
employability skills include business awareness, communication, entrepreneurship, IT skills, numeracy, problem solving, resilience, self-management, teamwork

Once you’ve audited your skills and checked them against the nine employability skills employers look for it’s time to think about your ideal career.

Step Three: What career are you best suited to?

Choosing your ideal career begins with looking at what you have particularly enjoyed and been good at. We find that a graduate will usually fit into one of three types of careers:

  • Specialist – doctor, vet, coder
  • Analyst – planner, logistics, advisor
  • Communicator – hospitality, sales, advertising

The majority of those we work with will fit into one of the latter two because a specialist is more likely to have obtained a degree with a clear career path.

Many find it hard to uncover the relevant skills they have. Again, the clue is in what you have done well and enjoyed.

Finding relevant but buried skills

I once worked with a young man who had achieved his rowing blue at university. What was interesting about him was that he didn’t think he had much to offer an employer. He only mentioned this award after a series of questions about what he’d done in his spare time while at university.

Now, let’s think about what achieving an award of this kind really says about a person. The blue award is given in recognition of outstanding performance so, immediately, it marks you out as someone who possesses a set of valuable attributes. You are a person that has consistently outperformed others around you, who makes significant contributions to your team.

If you have worked in a coffee shop, you can list skills such as customer service, communication, problem solving, organisation and resilience. Remember the time you had to think on your feet to help those diners calculate the percentage each should pay for their meal? Or the time you had to help that lactose-intolerant customer choose the best options on the menu?

Breaking down the tasks you carried out to their minutest detail will help you zoom in on tasks you did well and which can be transferred to other jobs. This is work you have to do for yourself: employers won’t do it for you. All it takes is a little out-of-the-box thinking.

What’s naturally outstanding about you?

According to Forbes, outstanding employees are:

  • Clued up on their job and the environment they are working in.
  • Able to apply what they learn to the job – so they continuously improve.
  • Great with people and in their place as part of a team.
  • Able to anticipate problems and address them before they do harm.
  • The type to speak up about sticky topics like workload and ineffective procedures and to suggest how to fix them.
  • Likely to have a career plan in mind and don’t rely on others to manage it.
  • Respectful of others without being people-pleasers.
  • The type to seek out and ask for help when they need it.
  • Likely to share their ideas and embrace the ideas of others.
  • Consistent and get results.

You need to extract these accomplishments and own them. Expressing them on your CV and during your job interview will mark you out for the right career.

Step Four: Boost your confidence

Our final step in coaching an individual is to help them believe themselves. You must do the same. Why is self-belief so essential for getting the job you want? Because the art of getting a job is to convince an employer that you are the best person for the position advertised – if you don’t believe that yourself how are you going to convince anyone else?

There are four main components to cultivating a strong sense of inner belief without coming across as a pompous know-it-all (which no-one likes). These are:

Past accomplishments. Make a list of the things you’ve accomplished in the past. Think about the time you won that race, met that deadline, solved that difficult problem or wrote that great essay or article. Regularly remind yourself of your triumphs.

Talk about your passions. Focus on specific things around your work or hobbies that really interest you and get you fired up. This will help you to get in touch with your personal values and engender a sense of confidence in yourself as an individual.

Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Whether we like it or not other people’s opinions of us do affect us, especially those of the people we value or are close to. You want people around you who reaffirm and build you up.

Cultivate a growth mindset. Remember, mistakes are inevitable, and no-one becomes skilled at anything without having to learn, so you must be willing to fail forward. One of the top reasons why people struggle to believe they can achieve a goal is because of past failures that leave them believing they will fail again in the future. If you are willing and determined to pick yourself up, learn and move on after every set-back you will eventually land the right career.

At Graduate Coach we offer plenty of support to help you coach yourself into the right career.

Press

A degree is no longer enough – Aspect County

Young people graduate into a different world from that of twenty or thirty years ago when their parents went to university. The student population has doubled since 1992 and last year UCAS reported that a record number, almost half, were accepted into university. The problem is what happens when they leave. With 78% of students now achieving a 1st or 2:1, competition for graduate level employment is rife. Which is why, according to official data by the Office of National Statistics, almost half (47%) of graduates were in non-graduate jobs two years later.
Read Article

How we help

One-to-One Coaching: Stage 1 and Stage 2

If you’re a student or graduate our one-to-one coaching can help. Stage one: Learning about yourself – Find your ideal career will help you learn about yourself, give you a better understanding of your preferences, strengths and skills and help you find your ideal career. Stage two: Career plan develops your career plan – what skills do you have and what do you need, establishes your current level on the 9 employability skills, create your career plan, discussions about what career options will suit you best, Internships and work experience needed.

The Student Book & The Graduate Book: Get (& Thrive In) The Job You Really Want

Chris Davies is the author of The Student Book, All you need to know to get the job you really want and The Graduate Book, All you need to know to do really well at work. The Student book introduces the 9 Employability Skills, how and where to acquire them, ways to develop them, how to prove you have these skills and how to create a CV that highlights your achievements.

Nail That Interview Course with Chris Davies

Nail That Interview Online Course will teach you everything you need for interview success. Module 1 – I CAN do the job – contains the Graduate Coach Skills Audit and the 9 Employability Skills.

Watch

The full career coaching programme with Chris Davies | Interview training

Creating a career action plan | Developing career goals

Tell me about yourself | Self introductions with Chris Davies

What graduate recruiters look for | Career coaching for graduates