Graduate CV Tips

Now that you’ve graduated, it’s time to find a career that puts your education to good use. Knowing how to craft a resume is an essential skill for finding a well-paying job, but professional positions may also require a CV. While resumes are intended to be short and quick read, a CV is more comprehensive. This article shares tips for writing an effective document to present as your graduate CV to help you apply for the job of your dreams.

What is a CV?

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is a comprehensive synopsis of your professional qualifications, education, experience and accomplishments. Some professionals have CVs with page lengths well into the double digits, but a graduate will likely only have around two to four pages of information. CVs are especially popular for applying for positions in academics, research or science, but a wide variety of industries can request them as well.

As a graduate, you likely don’t have much formal work experience to include in your comprehensive CV. Anything less than two pages is typically seen as a red flag by employers, so you’ll have to fill your CV with other information. This will vary individually, but there are tips and tricks that can help you craft a CV that’s both long enough and effective without including any unnecessary information.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Resume and a CV?

Tips for writing a graduate CV

Here are some tips to help you craft a compelling and effective CV document:

Understand the intent and purpose of your CV

Before you start writing, it’s helpful to determine the intent of your CV and how it relates specifically to the job you’re applying for. While a CV is meant to be a comprehensive list of your accomplishments and qualifications, it should still be organized with the target job in mind. 

Don’t forget to include the basic elements of a standard CV

Every CV is different, as it is based on the job applied for and the individual, but there are a few basic traits that all of them should share. For example, your CV needs to include all your work experience, special qualifications, education and accomplishments, within reason. 

Avoid unnecessary information

As a graduate, you probably know what it’s like having to add to a document to reach the word count, but doing that on a CV will not be as effective as being concise. While a CV is meant to be comprehensive, you don’t have to include everything you’ve ever accomplished.

Remember the difference between tangential and direct relevance

When something is mentioned in your CV, it indicates that it’s at least tangentially relevant to the position you’re applying for. When it’s detailed in your CV, it indicates that it’s directly relevant to the position. 

Avoid buzzwords

Employers read through numerous CVs, and nothing can make them roll their eyes quite like an overused buzzword. Common examples include ‘dynamic’ and ‘excited.’ Try to add more variety to your descriptions, especially in your personal profile, but don’t use a thesaurus and pick embellished words that you wouldn’t ordinarily use in conversation.

Mention traveling or studying abroad if you can

The ‘Interests’ section of your CV leaves a lot of allowable space to include information that doesn’t really fit in any other part of your CV. If you’ve traveled in the past or worked abroad, that’s always useful information to include. 

Use evidence and quantifiable results to explain your experience

By its very nature, your CV is going to make a lot of claims about you. While most are generally believable, it’s always better to provide actual evidence that demonstrates those claims. You don’t need formal evidence, but you do need to give the employer a reason to believe you. 

Don’t list all of your courses and grades

When detailing your education, you’ll have a lot of information to sort through. Specializations, general grades and extracurricular activities are all useful to include, but don’t waste time listing every single grade you’ve received in every single course. 

Use a simple page layout

Your CV is meant to be a professional document. While it’s useful to use light and positive language to prevent it from sounding overly dry, don’t make your CV too flashy. Use a simple font like Arial or Calibri and use numbering and bullet points to organize information. 

Tailor your personal statement to the position you are applying for

At the beginning of your CV, you should include a personal statement that not only describes who you are but how your skills and experience fit the position you’re applying for. Make sure you customize your personal statement for the specific position applied for in every CV you send out.

Keep your hobbies and interests relevant

The ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section of a CV is optional, but you should include it if your hobbies are particularly relevant to the position you’re applying for. For example, it may be beneficial to describe how you developed your organizational skills by setting up events and exhibitions for an art club.

Proofread your CV

Before you submit your CV, make sure you proofread it for errors. To make sure you catch everything, it’s helpful to leave it overnight and look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. Additionally, you can read it aloud and use spell check for extra assurance.

List items in order of importance

There is no set rule regarding what order you must list information other than the most important information being listed first. Typically, anyone who reads your CV will spend the most time on the first page, so be sure to list the most relevant information based on the position applied for.

Be concise

It is likely that your CV won’t be read for more than 30 seconds by anyone you submit it to, so you must make an impact fast. Be concise with your information, emphasizing the most important factors early on and using bullet points to organize information when you can.

Use action verbs

When describing your experience and skills throughout the CV, make sure you use action verbs. This will emphasize your effort and ability, in addition to making your CV simply more interesting to read. For example, instead of saying, ‘worked at the school paper,’ you can write, ‘edited 20+ articles each month for the school paper.’

With these graduate CV tips in mind, you’ll find yourself in a much better position to write a compelling document that stands out from the competition. Considering just how many high-level jobs require a CV, yours could be the best tool to connect you to your dream job.