Struggling to land your first job as a graduate? Stand out from the crowd with these CV tips.

Career Advice
14 January 2021 | Career Advice | Guest Author

You’ve got a great degree and more work experience than the average graduate, so why are you not getting shortlisted for jobs?

The global pandemic has made life all the more difficult for job seekers. With fewer job openings and greater competition, getting noticed by employers has become more challenging.

So, what can you do to stand out and give yourself the best shot at landing a graduate job?

A good place to start is with your CV. It’s your first opportunity to grab the recruiters attention and prove to them you’re the right person for the job!

1. Get the basics right

This might seem obvious, but double check you’ve included your name and contact details on the CV itself.

Your CV might get separated from your email/covering letter so it is vital that you include these details.

2. Make your work experience shine

When you’re applying for graduate roles, it’s likely your work experience won’t be extensive.

It’s important the information included here is accurate and adds value. A recruiter isn’t going to want to read about every Saturday or holiday temping job you’ve ever had!

Instead, carefully select past experiences to focus on. For example, if applying for a job in digital marketing, that job you had as a checkout operator in sixth form is probably not relevant.

A recruiter would be far more interested in your two-month marketing internship last summer, or your stint on the university newspaper.

It doesn’t mean you need to omit your Saturday job entirely, just reduce it to start and end dates and go into detail about more job-appropriate roles.

3. Rework your structure

Say goodbye to long waffly paragraphs! Keep your CV concise and relevant.

Remove generic statements, such as ‘I am a hard-working and dedicated individual who will bring great value to your team’.

Instead, provide examples of when you have brought value in a role, paying close attention to the skills listed in the job description.

Make your CV easy to read - use headings, a consistent font and keep an eye on spacing.

4. Tailor it

It might seem like a time-consuming task but it pays off to tailor your CV to each application. It will save you time in the long run as (hopefully) getting this right will help you secure a graduate job early on.

Recruiters like to cross-reference your CV with the job description and tick off the skills and experience you have - make this an easy task for them!

If you use keywords from the job description and person specification in your CV, supported with strong examples, you’ll make it all the more difficult for employers to turn you down.

5. Show them who you are

Although including hobbies and interests might not spring to mind as the most important aspect of your CV, it can help the reader get an idea of what you are like as a person and visualise how you might fit into their team.

You may consider mentioning details of your LinkedIn profile and Twitter handle so they can see you have been proactive and dedicated to your job search.

Just make sure you do a social media audit beforehand and clear off anything that could potentially present you in a bad light.

Once you have finished your CV, get a trusted friend to check it for typos and grammar mistakes. These can be easy to miss in your own work, but jump off the page to recruiters. You’ll also need a killer cover letter to accompany your CV.

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