CVs & Covering Letters

Top 10 Graduate CV Tips

Check out our 10 quick and easy tips to help improve your CV.

Even though you are writing about your own life up to this point, writing a CV can be one of the hardest things you do when applying for a job.

It’s not just about listing the things that you have been up to but also selling yourself.

With these top tips though, you can’t go wrong.

Top 10 graduate CV tips

Think further than paper based

Online CVAll the top recruiters are now actively looking for new recruits online. So if the only version you have of your CV is saved on your computer, you’re missing a trick. Get it online and help recruiters to find you.

To complete your online presence you can use sites such as LinkedIn that will do the hard work for you, or you could even build your own site to showcase your skills.

Focus on results, not tasks

When writing a CV, too many people talk about what they did rather than what they achieved.

For example, someone focusing on tasks might say they were ‘section manager at local supermarket’. But someone focusing on results would say that they ‘increased weekly turnover by 20% in my department by designing and implementing a staff training programme as section manager’.

The second example creates much more of an impact because it shows that the person really made a difference rather than just turning up!

Include only relevant information

Keep your CV shortYou might be proud of that time that you got 90% in one of your modules, but is it really relevant to the position you’re applying for?

In most cases, it probably isn’t. You’ve got limited time and space to impress the recruiter, so focus on the information that’s really relevant to the job.

Keep it snappy

Employers often receive hundreds of CVs every time they advertise a job, so they simply don’t have the time to read through each and every single one in detail. So do yourself a favour and get to the point!

Be clear and concise, and try to keep it to two A4 pages at most.

Look at achievements other than your degree

student volunteer You’re up against others who have pretty much exactly the same qualifications as you, so if you want to stand out, you need to demonstrate that you’ve got more than just a degree.

Whether it’s part-time work, volunteering or societies that you’ve been involved with, don’t forget that it’s these little details that will put you ahead of your peers.

Tweak your CV slightly for every role

The bare bones of your CV will remain the same, but you should do your research and make tweaks for each different job that you apply for.

Look at the person specification and job description, as well as doing some research into the company. This way, you’ll be able to make some little changes to your CV that shows recruiters why you’re the best candidate for that specific job.

Don’t lie!

Don't lie on your CVWe all try to make ourselves sound great on our CVs, and there’s every reason why you should. But never outright lie.

This includes changing the grades of your qualifications, explicitly stating that you resigned from a role if you were actually sacked, and stating that you held responsibilities that you didn’t.

There’s every possibility that you’ll get found out. You won’t get the job, and you’ll look really silly! If you are offered the job and your employer finds out that were lying at a later date, you could get dismissed. So it’s really not worth taking the chance.

Think carefully about your contact details

If you’ve recently graduated, it’s likely that you could be moving house soon. If this is the case, consider using your parents’ postal address on your CV. Missing an opportunity because a letter was sent to your previous address is easily avoidable.

Similarly, if you still have access to your university email address, this will probably change very soon. Set up another address to use on your CV. Make sure it’s a professional one, because no one wants to hire sexychick123!

Avoid filling your CV with empty adjectives

CVs that state ‘I’m a hard working person who enjoys team work, but I can also work on my own initiative. I’m motivated and I always strive for results’ are ten a penny. They tell an employer nothing about what you’re really like, so avoid this approach.

Use examples that back up what you’re saying and prove that you really have skills in the areas you say you do.

Double check for errors and spelling mistakes

Spellcheck It seems so obvious, but always double check to make sure that you haven’t made any little mistakes.

If possible, get someone else to have a read over your CV before you send it off. Even if you have the best qualifications and experience in the world, errors will make an employer think that you have poor attention to detail and that you’re not taking your application seriously.

Most importantly, don’t rush the process. If you think you’ll be applying for jobs soon, get your CV ready now. Waiting until you’re asked for one is a recipe for panicking and handing in the first draft that you put together.