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CV Advice for Graduates

 28th Apr 2020

You know that feeling when you open a book and you are hooked from page one; CVs should hook the reader in immediately and you want it to create a call to action.

GETTING STARTED

Most people dread writing a CV it feels like a massive task.

With a bit of planning it isn’t so bad and it will help you remember all those key achievements. Whilst giving you a memory boost to remind you of what you have achieved ready for any forthcoming opportunities.

Starting is the hard part, staring at a blank page but once you get going it will start to flow, I promise you. The knack is then keeping it concise and on 1 or 2 pages, trickier than you think!

A strong CV is your entry to an interview and shows the reader how you think, your level of attention to detail and is a clue to your communication style. It will also be the basis for interview questions, as most telephone and first stage interview questions are written from your CV.

Remember to include contact details, work history, education and any extracurricular experience for example volunteering or continued learning.

I would also recommend including your IT/technical knowledge and other languages that you speak and if you have a driving license.

Personally I would put references available on request and save the valuable space.

TAILOR YOUR APPLICATION

You need to approach this part of your application with forensic detail!

Recruiters and hiring managers can spot a copy and paste application and do not appreciate them. No matter how tempting please do not fall into this trap.

Look at the job description and if you have it, the person specification so you can cross-reference you have the skills and or experience that they are looking for.

Take time to tailor your skills and experience to those being asked for on the job description and person specification.

Look for synergy in the way they write and put some of the main words that they use to describe themselves, the role or the culture they have created within the application.

Including words or phrases that matter to them will make your CV and covering letter more personal to the reader, they will appreciate it and your CV to interview ratio will improve.

PERSONAL STATEMENT / PROFILE & SKILLS

The key with a personal statement and please, the clue is in the title; make it personal! Try to keep away from cliché phrases and words you know the ones! There is no real secret formula as everyone has different circumstances but think about it like your LinkedIn or Instagram bio; be creative and make it impactful. The knack to writing a good personal statement is telling the reader your job-seeking intentions.

Where you place your personal profile is important. It is very important to have it front and centre as lots of CVs are read at speed. As Hiring Managers and recruiters you learn very quickly to pull out important words and phrases in connection to the role we are looking to recruit.

Try to also future proof in your personal statement if you want to learn new skills or manage a team let the reader know.

Your personal profile needs to be easy to read and beware of beige words such as ‘committed team player’ or ‘accomplished multitasker’ whilst these words can have merit, they are so commonly written in CVs so they can fail to have any gravitas, they become a blur DON’T waste this valuable space.

Telling the reader your intentions examples:

A technically astute front-end developer with 3 years’ experience currently learning react.

Or

A copywriter with 1 year’s agency experience working with high profile clients looking to develop my writing style and experience with a new challenge.

If you are a technical candidate with a lot of languages put them in order of which are your strongest first this will help the reader know your core skills, don’t list skills you don’t want to use anymore, sounds obvious but a lot of candidates make that mistake.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

This will give the hiring manager or recruiter a fast and effective overview of your career to date.

Bullet points are essential.

There is also a missed opportunity here as candidates rarely back it up with facts.

It is advisable to put down your day-to-day tasks in bullet points but make sure you emphasise your key achievements, the things YOU did to create outcomes. This is about showcasing your personal contributions and you can also do the same with teamwork.
This is a killer trick; it informs the reader that as a direct result of something you did there has been an improvement.

TECH STACK/SOFTWARE

Our need to be able to hire candidates with good technology skills will never tire so you will want to add as many as you can from traditional ones like Word and Excel to Trello, Photoshop or Google Docs.

If you are applying for a role in tech as an Engineer/Coder or Developer this is even more important, don’t make hiring managers or recruiters guess tell them.
You may want to put it under separate headings such as programming and databases to show your breath of experience.

EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS

If you have a degree place it beside or under your name or close to your personal profile. Any other qualifications should be positioned under experience. The reader wants to know how you perform in the workplace, not at school or college, it needs to be there but not taking up valuable space.

It would be different if you are writing an academic CV of course.

SOCIAL MEDIA

All employers will look at your social media prior to the interview. So, keep your accounts private apart from LinkedIn or maybe Instagram.

Be VERY careful with what potential employers can see, it may affect their judgement of you if it is not protected.

If you are going to include social media or digital links it is imperative that they are embedded and are not broken.

HOBBIES AND INTERESTS

Unless they are genuinely interesting, or you can talk about them passionately don’t bother! It will take up valuable space and you can always let them know at the interview.

You could use this space to say for example enhanced or continued learning and include relevant modules or courses you are taking up in your spare time. It shows commitment and an interest in your chosen profession.

If you have been involved in hackathons that is another sure-fire winner to include, especially if you can put your project on GitHub. Same with voluntary work it shows a genuine interest and passion.

GRAFT TOP TIPS

  • Have you heard of the 7-second rule?
  • Make sure you always write as yourself and NEVER in the third person most Hiring Managers dislike that.
  • Be careful not to exaggerate your skills; you will only have to evidence it and back it up at an interview. The likelihood is you will be interviewed by people with stronger technical or industry knowledge so any inconsistencies will be picked up, don’t do it yourself!
  • Are your links that are embedded? (this is a particular pet hate of mine) Make sure you check them all.
  • Keep your GitHub (or other repository) / portfolio up to date to showcase your best work.
  • For additional assistance: Office365 has a CV assistant written by LinkedIn.

TO ROUND UP THINGS TO AVOID

  1. Incorrect spelling and grammar; basic but so many CVs are littered with them. Use Grammarly the basic version is free just watch out for the American spellings.
  2. A CV that is difficult to navigate; think about your layout, does it read well and remember the 7-second rule. Are you putting the key facts at the top and easy to read and digest?
  3. Lack of evidence in your statements; back it up talk about your achievements.
  4. Failure to tailor application; this will be an instant reject trust me!
  5. Boring to read; try to make your personality and talents shine through, now is not the time to be overly humble you need to elevate your skills and experience.

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