A well-crafted CV will show your career interests and highlight your most relevant skills and work experience in the way recruiters like. Below are some tips on creating a perfect CV recruiters will like.
1. Focus your message
Decide what your CV actually needs to say. How you focus your CV will depend on the graduate job and industry you are applying to and on what you want the recruiter to pay attention to.
Read job adverts and job descriptions carefully and pull out the key skills and experience the employer seeks – circle the words and key phrases, or make a list. Use these to help you work out what information to include and how to express it so that your CV showcases skills, qualifications and experience that match the employer’s requirements.
2. Pick a CV format and stick to it
This is where the ’30-second rule’ comes in. A recruiter is likely to spend between 30 seconds and a minute scanning a CV – just long enough to read it (and to notice any spelling mistakes). So first impressions count. As you put your CV together, ask yourself if it is clear, easy to read, and if the formatting is consistent throughout.
Graduate recruiters don’t waste time trying to locate hidden details, so your CV needs to be logically structured and broken down into clearly marked, easily readable sections
3. Use the space on your CV wisely
The maximum length of a graduate CV is two pages of A4 – there is no room to waffle! Be logical – employers will read from the beginning so this is where the most relevant information needs to go to catch the recruiter’s attention.
hether you opt for a chronological CV format, or a skills-focused format, it is crucial to give the most space on your CV to the information that is most relevant to the job.
Review the selection criteria for each employer and match your own skills as closely to these as possible. Writing a list of all of your skills and achievements can be a good way to do this.
Always make it easy for recruiters to find details that show you meet their minimum requirements (eg degree qualification and class, A level subjects, etc).
4. Fill in the gaps
Never leave anything up to the imagination of a graduate recruiter. Gaps are highly conspicuous on CVs and recruiters will spot them a mile off – they’ll be looking for them when they check continuity and consistency.
Tempting as it is to miss out bad exam results or not mention those lost summer months you can’t quite account for, it’s much worse to leave them out all together. If you do, recruiters have no choice but to guess what should be there and why you’ve left it out – this is nearly always worse than the truth. Gaps can put your CV in doubt and can result in a lost interview.
5. Stand out from the crowd
When you’re competing against other grads for the very best positions, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd or risk being lost in a sea of identical applications and CVs. Showing any evidence of work experience and skills developed through extracurricular activities will always give you an extra edge in a pile of CVs from similarly qualified applicants. But it’s important to get noticed for the right reasons.
Your CV isn’t so much about what you’ve done, but how well you’ve done it. When you include your skills in a CV don’t just list tasks and activities you have done. Provide brief statements that illustrate how you have used your skills and performed the tasks well. If you have achieved a target, say so. If you have received praise from your manager or a customer, say so.
Recruiters will be distracted away from your attributes if they can’t find your degree result or they have to make sense of a poorly constructed CV that’s full of typos. Even your choice of email address can be a potential pitfall, so if it sounds at all dodgy or unprofessional, avoid using it.
6. Check your CV carefully
Once you have finished your CV print off a copy and read through it to make sure you are happy that it:
- makes sense
- is targeted to the job and employer
- shows you meet the employer’s minimum requirements
- has no spelling errors.