Finishing your studies and hoping to land the best graduate job you can? So are lots of other people! The first step is to stand out lies in your CV writing.
Graduate roles are always competitive, so it’s important to make sure your CV is as complete, compelling and relevant as possible.
These are the essential CV myths and facts you need to know before you start writing yours.
Myth! You have to include everything you’ve ever done on your CV
Why? You’ll clutter your CV with irrelevant roles and details.
Your CV is not the time to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Including every job you’ve ever had could make it harder for a hiring manager to get to know you.
Instead, edit your CV and tailor it to the role you’re applying for. This doesn’t mean deleting whole periods of employment, which can create strange gaps in your work history. It means selecting your most relevant skills and experience and pushing them to the front.
Fact! A simple design is best
Why? Employers want the facts presented simply so they can make a quick, easy decision.
A simple Microsoft Word document is the way to go. Most employers and recruiters appreciate clear fonts in black and white and simple layouts.
A creatively designed CV doesn’t go down well in every industry and can even be hard to download and read.
Myth! Employers want to know your hobbies and interests
Why? Your hobbies and interests are a given! Use the space for more important things.
If employers want to know what kind of person you are and what you enjoy, they’ll probably ask you during the interview. Listing hobbies and interests takes up too much valuable CV space.
There are exceptions though — if your hobbies and interests include volunteering or an interesting side project that’s relevant to the role you’re applying for, include it!
Fact! Your work experience is more important than your qualifications
Why? Grades tell employers how well you perform academically, but not what you’re like in a workplace.
An employer will probably spend about five seconds checking you have the essential qualifications and then move on. The person reading your CV cares about your practical work experience and your achievements, not your Art GCSE (sorry…).
Degrees and qualifications are just a box to tick for some employers, while others won’t care at all.
Myth! Your CV can be as long as it needs to be
Why? Two pages are the maximum, but 1-1.5 pages is even better!
Recruiters and hiring managers don’t spend long reading your CV. The research varies, but most recruitment experts say you have 30 seconds to make an impression. Quality is infinitely more important than quantity.
The reader will skim your CV and pick out the information that matters to them. To make it easier for them, it should be no more than two pages (no matter how much experience you have!) Three or four is just too long. If you can keep it to one page – even better.
Fact! You should highlight your soft skills
Why? You’ll have a better chance of landing an interview if you tell the recruiter exactly what you can do.
Soft skills (sometimes called transferable skills) are the skills you pick up in any job and will continue to develop. Customer service jobs, in particular, are full of them — teamwork, problem-solving, conflict management, time management…
Make sure the previous roles listed on your CV are described accurately and you explicitly state what skills you picked up and how. Don’t be afraid to spell it out — it will help you convince the reader in under 30 seconds!
With just 30 seconds to make an impression, it’s essential to sell yourself as much as you can with an 11 point font and 2 sides of A4. The key is to think like an employer and edit, edit, edit!
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.