If you are a new graduate the good news it’s a great time to be starting a career. With unemployment levels at the lowest they’ve been in over a decade, graduate jobs, entry-level jobs and graduate programmes are plentiful.

Employers are no longer concerned with a degree alone and so it’s important to think carefully about how to structure your graduate CV, your personal statement and other information that will make you stand out in a competitive market.

Soft skills and inter-personal competencies are now just as important. Evidence of good soft skills, such as problem-solving, resilience and communication, are all looked for on any graduate CV and in interviews.

Fresh from studies and having limited work exposure means writing a great CV can be daunting, but there are guidelines you can follow that will help.

Your CV is the first impression an employer will form of you and will determine whether you make it to the interview stage or not.

Spending time to perfect your CV is crucial. As employers are willing to invest in training and education for graduate programmes, use your CV to show why you are worth investing in.

What to include on a Graduate CV

Before drafting your CV, have a think about what you have learnt over the past few years and how that can be incorporated into your CV.

Then when writing your CV use language that is clear, concise and consistent. Use action words such as, created, achieved, organised, and responsible.

Bullet points are easy to read and look best when demonstrating work experience. Consistency in style and tone is really important so make sure to keep the font, layout, and size all uniform.

Graduate CV personal statement

If you are a graduate with no experience your personal statement can be very valuable. A personal statement should be the first thing on your CV and should tell employers what your areas of interest are and any standout information that will grab their attention.

For example – did you complete an interesting thesis that is relevant to the company you’re applying for? Did you do any relevant extracurricular activities e.g if you’re applying for a marketing role and you were involved in video production this would be worth mentioning.

Education

As a fresh graduate, this section should be easy to fill in. Begin by thinking over your college experience. Were you part of any clubs or societies? Do you have any stand out academic accomplishments?

Work experience

Make a list of all any jobs and work responsibilities you had during college. Work accomplishments rather than duties are always more impactful. Consider times when you went above and beyond. Perhaps you won employee of the month, were promoted to supervisor or exceeded your targets? It’s statistics like this that will help you stand out.

Hobbies and interests

This section is useful for employers to see if you’d be a good cultural fit. Make a list of what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Any team activities, volunteering or extra-curricular interests are worth mentioning, for example; competitions entered, exams sat or sporting successes.

This will show your passions, dedication and team player skills. Keep this section concise as you don’t want to overshare. When you get to the interview stage you can elaborate more.

CV tips for new grads

Tailor your CV to each job application

Recruiters read hundreds of CV’s daily and receive an influx of applications for every job they post. A process of elimination inevitability happens, and a shortlist is then made. To make it to the yes pile, your CV needs to stand out.

The best CV’s are clear and not generic. Use the personal summary section to clearly show what your goals and ambitions are. A generic CV will be recognised immediately.

If your summary reads ‘Recent Marketing Graduate seeking an opportunity within the digital marketing space’ and you have applied to a graduate finance programme, be sure you won’t be making the yes pile.

Use keywords on your CV

Read the job spec and tailor your personal summary and work experience to match. The majority of job specs list skills and competencies an employer is looking for so use these keywords to your advantage.

For example, if the job spec mentions good computer skills, highlight your PC and systems experience. If it asks for attention to detail, highlight any tasks you have done which required 100% accuracy. Was this counting cash and balancing tills? Typing documents or working with data? Ensure you show these examples clearly.

How long should a Graduate CV be?

Keep to the two-page rule when writing a graduate CV. You want to keep the reader’s attention and give a snapshot of your skills and experience to peak interest. Everything else you can discuss at the interview (if you’ve already got interviews lined up make sure to download our interview handbook for lots of tips and advice.)

Always double check your grammar & spellings

Remember recruiters and employers read a lot of CVs so you want to make yours as easy as possible to read. Frequent spelling and typo errors look bad so always read, read and re-read to make sure you are happy with the final version. Then get a friend or family to proofread for you too! Apps such as Grammarly are quite handy for this too.

Writing a graduate CV, or any CV, isn’t easy but if you put some time and effort into tailoring it for each job application it will pay off.

If you’re interested in graduate job opportunities, particularly in banking and finance, get in touch and I’d be happy to offer advice and guidance.

We currently have a number of vacancies available within Customer Service, Technical Support, Operations, Risk, AML, Fraud, HR, and Administration.

If you would like to have chat please send your CV to louise.okane@cpl.or, call 01-6146045 for a confidential chat.

This post was originally published in 2018 and has been since updated and republished.