How to Write a Graduate CV

When thinking about applying for jobs in the UK you will need to write a Curriculum Vitae (CV). If you have never written a CV before it can be quite daunting when figuring out what to include and how the document should be formatted. 

In this article, you will find examples of how to write a successful CV, perfect for any undergraduate or postgraduate students hoping to find work after University.

When creating a CV it is important to understand what information a potential employer is looking for and how best to showcase your qualifications and experience. For example, if you have a Tech degree but when writing your CV for an IT job and don’t include this information. It is not only a loss for you if you but also for the employer who is wanting to make informed decisions about hiring individuals, you may have been the perfect person for the job but they were unable to learn this information from your CV. 

CV & Application Form

When applying for multiple jobs you can be easily confused between application forms and CVs.  

A CV is written by you and you get to include as much or as little information as you want to when applying for a job.  

An application form is created by the hiring company. The company can add as many questions as they want to find the perfect person for the job, they are advertising. When filling out an application form it can be harder to leave out information you don’t want to share or to ignore gaps in employment. 

If you think anything you are including may pose a problem when a potential employer reads your answer it is best to be open and honest and explain your situation. For example, a gap in employment due to studying or raising a family. 

How to write a graduate CV

Introduce yourself 

Include your personal details clearly at the top of your CV making sure to include your name, address, and contact information. Do not include information such as your date of birth, gender, or marital status. 

Create a short introduction paragraph, no more than 100 words that introduce yourself and states what you can offer the company if they hired you for the job. Explain your current situation and why you want the job. Do not write common phrases such as I am a hard worker or I am passionate about… focus your statement on the skills needed to be a success in the position you are applying for. 

Add Employment history 

It is important to include your employment history in reverse chronological order. If you have gaps in your employment, for example when you attended University, it is important to explain these on your CV so potential employers can build up an idea of you and your work ethic. 

Employers want to see the progression to the position you are applying for and what you have done to get there. If appropriate add voluntary or unpaid positions to further showcase your skills and expertise within your field. 

When including your employment history make sure to include your job title and a shortlist of your responsibilities whilst at the job. 

Include relevant qualifications 

Make sure to include a list of relevant qualifications that show you are qualified to do the job you are applying for. No employer needs to know that about your childhood swimming badges or that time you won an eating competition. Be selective and show potential employers that you have thought about the skills they need to fulfil their job role 

If you don’t have any relevant qualifications for the job you are applying for, think about what transferable skills you could offer the company such as skills gained in a customer-facing role, data entry jobs, or stock ordering and organisation. 

Your personality 

Include a short paragraph that showcases you outside of your working persona. What do you like to do at the weekend? Do you have any interesting hobbies or quirks that an employer may find interesting? You never know, there may be a group of like-minded people at the company just waiting for someone to complete their 5-a-side football team. 

This is a good section to include any information about gap years or your travel experience as well as any societies or clubs you attended whilst studying at university. 

Include references 

Make sure to include information for two references when applying for jobs. If you have recently finished University one of these references can be from your academic studies. The second reference should be from some form of work experience. This could be from paid work you have done during your time at university or from work experience you have undertaken as part of your course. 

If you are struggling to find two references to include in your CV you may be able to ask a close friend to provide you with a character profile to help you secure a job

Things not to do

  • Do not include a long list of your achievements and unnecessary information 
  • Do not waffle to add information to your CV keep things concise and only include important relevant details. 
  • Unless they are well known in the industry you are applying for, it is best not to use abbreviations.  
  • Do not send a generic CV, make sure your CV is personalised to the job you are applying for. 
  • Spelling mistakes and bad grammar will stop recruiters from considering you for a job. Use built-in features in Microsoft Word or online grammar checkers to help perfect your CV 
  • Don’t include incorrect contact details. Also, make sure not to use the email address you create when you were 12. Create a new, professional email address to hear back from recruiters. 

How to present your CV

Writing your CV is only one aspect of creating a CV that will land you your dream job.  

How you format and layout your CV can have a big impact on how you are perceived by employers. 

Although the following list isn’t the only way you could format your CV it will give you a good idea of what many recruiters are looking for. 

  • Use a simple, consistent font throughout. A sans-serif font like Arial or Calibri usually works well. 
  • Keep the letter size the same throughout. 
  • Use bold and italic tools to highlight job titles and emphasise job roles. 
  • Keep information organised by using bullet points 
  • Split your CV into clear sections so that employers can quickly find the information they need. 
  • When listing work experience, make sure they are listed in reverse chronological order. Start with the most recent experience first. 
  • Your CV should not be any longer than 2 pages of A4 

Writing a cover letter

Another important part of your CV when applying for jobs in the UK is attaching a cover letter. 

A cover letter accompanies your CV and gives an overview of who you are and what you can offer the hiring company.  

Reasons to write a cover letter:

  • As a recent university graduate, you will have up-to-date knowledge in the field you are wanting to work in. Use your cover letter to demonstrate your expert knowledge in appropriate areas, showing potential employers that you will be an asset to their company. 
  • A cover letter showcases your work ethic and enthusiasm for the job you are applying for. Although your CV contains lots of information about you a cover letter can contain more of your personality as it contains a few short paragraphs instead of bullet-pointed lists. 
  • By making sure you have a professionally written cover letter employers will gain the knowledge that you are academic, able to use technology and can write well. Employers will like this as it means you will be able to keep up with emails and other business material. 

Just like when writing your CV there are certain points and information you need to include in your cover letter to be successful in being accepted for a job in the UK. 

1. Start your letter formally 

Use a formal greeting at the start of your letter and use the recipient’s full name if it’s known.  

If you don’t know who to address your letter to then use Hiring Manager. 

2. Include the position you’re applying for 

Use the abbreviation ‘RE’ which stands for regarding and then include the job title or position you are applying for. This will make it easier for recruiters to identify what your letter is about. 

It can also be helpful for recruiters to know where you found the job, for example on a website or newspaper. 

3. Show your interest in the position 

In the first paragraph include a short statement explaining why you are applying for the job and what interests you about the position.  

It can also be beneficial to enquire about more information about the job to encourage recruiters to get back in touch with you and open up that communication link. 

4. Outline your experiences and relative skills

As a graduate looking for work you should focus on the skills and knowledge you learned during your course and include relevant information for the job you are applying for.  

Showcase your employability by including transferable skills as well as skills and knowledge niched to the field you are applying for. 

5. Effectively include your qualifications 

When including your qualifications in your covering letter it is important to link them to the job you are applying for. Chose the more appropriate qualification you have, which will hopefully be your most recent qualification, and emphasise how this will be an asset to the hiring company, for example, they will gain your up-to-date industry knowledge and expertise in this area. 

6. How to conclude your letter 

To finish your letter it is recommended to add a looking-forward statement to encourage potential employers to reply to your application. 

Some examples of these statements are: 

  • I look forward to hearing from you 
  • I look forward to discussing the position with you further 
  • I look forward to learning more about the position 

7. Include your name and contact details 

Add a closing statement to your letter just above your name and signature. This could include phrases which as best wishes, kind regards, or sincerely. 

Make sure to include your contact information at the very end of the letter. 

In Summary

Through reading this article we hope that the task of writing and compiling a CV and cover letter will now be less daunting. Remember to add your personality into each document and format each one clearly and concisely.  

Think about the skills and attributes you can bring to a job and make sure to highlight these so you stand out against other job candidates.  

By following the guidance set out above you will be able to create a successful CV and covering letter in no time. Remember to personalise each document when applying for different jobs. This is an important step and one that most people miss. Taking the extra time to individualise your CV will show potential employers your attention to detail, determination, and ambition before they have even met you. 

And, that could be the reason you get the job over someone else.