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5 tips for writing a graduate CV

Published: Monday 27th July 2020

Last year the number of students studying at university in the UK was 2.38 million. That means every summer, over two million graduates are looking for their first graduate job. While some will apply for internships to launch their career, these are often unpaid or low paid. The chances are you need to be thinking about perfecting your graduate CV so you can stand out from candidates with more work experience and other graduates.

The majority of graduates want to put their degree to use and start getting an income straightaway. In fact, more than 90% of graduates are either in work or further study just six months after leaving university.  Here’s our five top tips for writing a graduate CV to give you the best chance in the world of work.

Tip 1: Focus on your potential

You just got a degree after three years of studying because at the very minimum you’ve got a strong work ethic and a level of talent in your chosen field of study. This will show to your employer immediately. Having no work experience doesn’t mean you won’t get an interview. When hiring a graduate, employers understand you will lack some experience and knowledge around the workplace, but ultimately, they need to know you can grow into the role they’re hiring for.

Use your CV to show off your potential and how quickly you pick up new skills and processes. Give examples rather than simply statements, even if they’re not directly relevant, the employer is looking for you to be adaptable and make the transition from graduate to employee as smoothly as possible. They’re making an investment in you and businesses will want to see the potential of getting their money’s worth in future.

Tip 2: Remember your value

Graduate celebration at graduation

Don’t necessarily think someone with more industry experience is instantly a better candidate than you because you’re a graduate. They might have graduated 10 years ago and their way of doing things are outdated. They may lack any creativity and enthusiasm. Your training and knowledge will be based on the latest information available and you can add some fresh blood and ideas to a business. Mention some of the training you have received while doing your degree and come across as enthusiastic about starting work when appropriate.

Tip 3: Make it memorable

Firstly, make it easy to digest. Otherwise the reason an employer won’t remember a graduate CV is because they didn’t read past the first two sentences. That part of a CV or cover letter is the hook. You can elaborate further down, but you need the top paragraph to ooze quality and professionalism.

Your second job is making the rest of the CV stick in an employer’s mind. The best way to do this could be to tailor it to the industry you’re going into. Applying for graphic design or marketing jobs? Why aren’t you sending your CV within an example of some of your design work? Maybe it’s as simple as including a link to a video version of your CV. This is a great way to be creative and also get your personality across, without using a whole paragraph on your CV.

 Tip 4: A personal touch

Man opens jacket to show slogan t-shirt about personality

Continuing from the above, don’t overlook the influence some personality and character can have within your CV. Every job has a different culture that filters down from the senior management team. You won’t get the job because you like Football and so does your new boss. But if you talk about how you have a strong passion for sports and enjoy staying active, this subconsciously tells your employer you’re a passionate person who works hard to get the best results. This paragraph should be below your skills and experience section, but don’t ignore it all together. You can also show off your personality in person if you attend job fairs. This is an opportunity to network and speak face to face with employers and ask questions about what they’re looking for.

Tip 5: Speak to the employer

Research the business you’re applying for. Read the reviews they have, explore their website, see their employees’ profiles on LinkedIn. Use what you learn to tailor your graduate CV and include subtle references that align with the businesses vision and goals. Mention the skills and ideas you have for helping the business grow and move forwards is a fantastic way to showcase your passion and creativity. The employer might already have those ideas in progress or have tried them before. But they won’t mind, they’ll see that you’re already thinking about how to make changes and improvements.

If you’re looking for graduate jobs in the UK, visit Zoek and start applying today for your next role. If you want to apply for jobs on the go, download the Zoek app on iOS or Android.

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