Graduate CV advice Header

Graduate CV advice

Find a job

Your Curriculum Vitae is often the first thing a prospective employer will look at. You want to make it as easy to read as possible, and engaging enough that they want to keep reading.

The best way to do this is to be concise. It should not be more than two pages - in fact, it is a growing trend in many industries to prefer a one page document, which is good news for graduates who may be starting with a rather lean list of previous employment.

You want to make it easy for employers to choose you—so lay things out in a way that information can be pulled out quickly and easily.

If you have a lot you want to include but not enough room, add a link to your LinkedIn profile. It's a great way to have all your accomplishments documented and available while keeping your CV streamlined and inviting.

What to Include on Your CV

There is no standard format for a CV, but it is a good idea to make sure yours includes the following:

  • Name
  • Contact Details
  • Personal Details
  • Work Experience and Employment History
  • Education and Qualification
  • Skills
  • Interests and Hobbies
  • References

Contact Details

Include your phone number and email address. Your mailing address is optional.

Personal Details

This should be short, no more than a sentence or two, and will ideally communicate both what you are looking for in a position, and what you have to offer. If it sounds tricky, that's because it is, but spending some time perfecting this section can go a long way to getting an employer to continue reading.

Thinking about your Personal Brand will come in handy here.

Work Experience and Employment History

Start with the most recent first and work backwards. Include your dates of employment, your role, the employer or company name, and a sentence or two outlining your responsibilities and the skills you demonstrated. If you have a lot of really varied experience, it is sometimes preferable to put your most relevant experience first.

You can also include volunteer experience in this section, or you can split it off into a section of its own.

If you don't have much (or any) work experience, read through our section on dealing with lack of experience to see how you can work around it.

Education and Qualifications

This section can be longer if you need to fill up space, or shorter if you have a lot of work experience to outline, but you should always list your University, the title of your degree, the year you earned it or expect to earn it, and a brief summary of your GCSE results. Don't forget to list any awards or honours earned during your time in school!

If your CV is looking a bit sparse, you can expand this section to include topics studied during your course which relate to the role you are applying for, along with the results of each module.

Skills

This section should be tailored for each application to highlight the skills that the employer has listed in the job description. This is also a good place to include specific computer programs you are familiar with, as well as any special skills such as blogging/social media, web design, languages spoken, and if you can drive.

Not sure what skills you have to offer? Try our identifying skills exercise, or have a look through our list of what employers want and see what matches up with you.

Interests and Hobbies

Keep this section brief and focused. Think about which of your interests might align with the interests of your prospective employer. For example, if you are pursuing a job with Enterprise-Rent-a-Car, you may want to include your hobby rebuilding old engines. Or, if you are pursuing a career in fashion, you could list your interest in art and design.

References

Unless specifically requested in the job description, it is generally acceptable to put "References available upon request." Just to make sure you have the contact details for your references, and that you have reached out to them to check if it is okay to use them!

In specific fields, it may be appropriate to include a one or two sentence quote in this section from a previous employer regarding your work. This is more common to the creative fields like arts and design and media.

GCHQ