The best way to structure your CV
So, you’re wanting to enter the world of full-time work after a hard slog getting that degree? The whole process can seem overwhelming – trust us, we’ve been there too! – and it might seem impossible to know where to start.
Many of you will have written a CV (or résumé in the USA) for University and part time jobs, but how do you structure one for applying for your future career? Let us try to help you!
Your CV needs to give potential employers an overview of you professionally, academically and highlight your skills. You also need to add in a dash of personality to make the recipe complete!
Let’s start with the basics, a CV should ideally be no more than two sides of A4. You can potentially push that to a bit longer when you’ve got more work experience, but use that as a guidance. As a recent graduate, you may only have a page – that’s fine too!
You should always include your full name, contact email, address and mobile number at the top of your CV. You do not need to include a photograph or date of birth. You don’t need to write “CV” – it’s pretty obvious what it is!
Start with a brief introduction to yourself, highlighting specific skills that the job advert mentions. Keep it to under 250 words – this is your attention-grabber. Employers will scan this first so make sure it stands out. Make sure you sound driven, have aspirations and don’t just fill it with buzzwords.
As a graduate, it’s important to highlight your education first: include where you studied and your results. Later on in your career, you may wish to move education to a smaller part of your CV at the end, but as you’ve recently completed your degree it’s important to mention it first. Also don’t forget any professional qualifications you’ve achieved! Don’t put your A Levels and GCSE results here, these can go at the end in a short list.
Next, it’s time to put your work experience in. Start with your most recent role. You’ll need to include the dates you worked in this role, employer name and your job title. Use bullet points to highlight your key responsibilities and make sure that you include transferable skills. It might not seem relevant to the job you’re applying for, but working in a café or shop shows customer service skills, team work and etiquette. Don’t sell yourself short!
Skills & Achievements
After your work experience, highlight your skills and achievements. Are you able to use the MS Office Suite? Have you learned any coding languages? Can you speak another language? Look back at the job description and think about what you have that fits. You will have already gained many skills and attributes through your degree, coursework, work experience and extracurricular activities.
Then, it’s time to talk a bit about you as a person. What are your hobbies and interests? Try to avoid the clichés of ‘socialising’ and ‘reading’; focus on things that make you stand out. Perhaps a cross-stitch hobby, a love of crosswords or ice skating. Show that you’re an interesting person who could bring a new dynamic to the business and the team.
You can then add in your A Level and GCSE results, although maybe summarise the GCSEs into something like 5As 4Cs etc. to save space.
Don’t forget to either add your references or state they’re available on request. Have a couple of people lined up who know you in a professional capacity. Your mum doesn’t count as a reference! (Your lecturer does, though!)
Ensure your CV is formatted and readable. Avoid fonts that are native to your computer and, of course, avoid Comic Sans! Use Arial or Calibri to ensure consistency. Use headings. Make sure the font isn’t too small or too big – aim for size 10/12.
Finally, if you need any more support to get your CV together, let us help you! We do this all day and we can help you to find the career you deserve. Drop us a line on 0114 321 1873 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any advice!