You’ve graduated, you’re moving out of your last student home and now it’s time to enter the ‘real world’. For many graduates, this is a potentially terrifying prospect, but follow these instructions and your CV will be polished, professional and perfect for kick-starting your career.
Firstly, perhaps ‘a’ CV is the wrong term to use. If you are applying to multiple roles, do not send out identical copies of a complete list of your achievements. Rather, tailor your application for the role in question. The lemonade stall you set up at the age of five might not be what that leading publishing house is looking for, but your part-time job in a bookshop definitely is. This leaves you more space to sell your skills in other areas.
Ensure that your CV has a clear and professional layout. Excessively large or looping fonts, bright colours or pictures of yourself are not necessary and merely reduce the employer’s inclination to read it. Use a legible font such as Calibri or Times New Roman in a size between 10 and 12pt and remember that any other formatting should be added only to increase legibility. Accenting your name in a larger font, for example, is a good way of drawing attention to the product you are selling: yourself. Check out the clarity of this example from Dayjob.
Efficient use of space is particularly important for a quality CV. If it is longer than two sides of A4, the employer will lose interest. A good way of doing this is by deleting superfluous phrases such as ‘references available on request’. If the application does not expressly require references, there is no need to include them.
Once you have the basic layout, look at the content. Read your paragraphs back to yourself, do they sound natural? Tone is often difficult to perceive, but it should be professional, with no contractions or colloquialisms. This guide from LawCareers.net is an ideal checklist to follow.
Of course, while you are likely to be very proud of your new graduate status, employers are not just looking for top grades. Being a rounded individual is a term often thrown vaguely around, but extra-curricular interests are an ideal way of developing non-academic qualities which employers value. If the job description requires someone ‘dynamic’, for example, do not dismiss the relevance of your lifelong paragliding hobby.
Finally, even when you think you are ready to send, proofread. If you have proofread it already, do it again. You might have just crafted the best CV ever written, but if it is littered with spelling and grammar mistakes, to the employer you are immediately somebody who cannot be bothered. If you are applying for a writing or editing position, this is crucial; your employer is unlikely to believe you if your CV insists you are ‘a hihgly skliled copyediter’. If English is not your first language, the University of Chester has a useful writing resource aimed at international students.
- By Ellie Masterman