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Graduate Careers Advice Video: CV Writing for Graduate Jobs
CVs - they're so boring yet so important. How can I make these two pieces of paper say how amazing I am? I went to see some top employers to get their thoughts.
There are several things we are looking for in a good CV. First of all, making sure it is well presented and there are no spelling mistakes - you'd be surprised at the number of CVs we receive with spelling mistakes in.
Obviously the content is important but so is the way in which it appears on the page and you can tell whether somebody has devoted enough thought just in the way it appears.
Just the basics because if you see a CV with a spelling mistake or a poor format you just don't even continue looking at it in many industries so make sure it looks right, get someone else to check it.
Ok, so spelling...formatting but what should I put in it?
You need to be able to look at a CV and get a picture of what that person's qualifications, skills and experience are without going into too much detail, you don't really want to wade through lots of detail because that is what the interview is about.
Less is more to a certain extent, if you think about the people who are actually receiving all the CVs and covering letters, lots to get through. One of the tips is to think really carefully about every single word you put on your CV and covering letter and think about what that's telling the agency and often it's the most concise, clear and focused applications that go the furthest. What we definitely don't want to see is 7 pages of long CV's of all your work experience from dog walking and paper rounds through to your summer job in a cafe.
So it needs to be a snap shot of someone that you can look at and go, that sounds interesting, that sounds like a fairly good match for what we are after, therefore we will take it to the next stage.
I would recommend that people be honest about the skills that they don't have and be honest about those that they do and when highlighting the skills that they don't have, explain why they might not be on their resume now but that they actually want to learn them and that they see the role that they are applying for is a great opportunity for them to learn with the organisation. I get so many CVs sent to me where you can blatantly tell that this person couldn't possibly have had the experience that they've put on their CV. I would rather someone be honest.
So...take of that MD role! But if I don't big up my experience, how am I going to make people sit up and take notice of me?
A good CV is a CV that also gives an idea of somebody's personality.
Think about the thing that makes you different to the 2,000 other bits of paper that are going to hit our desks, what's going to make us sit up and look at your application. One thing.
It's generally just the way that the application is phrased that makes you stand out from other applicants and so we would expect there to be something in there, some spark that differentiates you from someone else.
I may get anything up to a 1,000 CVs and we read them all, so don't worry that that therefore means you have to put yours in purple ink because it's the only way we will notice it, it isn't but remember, we've got a thousand of them so if it is just a regurgitation of everything you've done at school since you were 11, well fine, but I've got no sense of you so I will probably move it away for somebody who seems more interesting.
Just to show that they are a well rounded person and they have extra-curricular activities on there and they might be interested in sport or cinema or travelling, something like that. That's quite important as well.
I am well rounded, i go to the cinema all the time!
Everybody likes to go to the cinema and you don't necessarily want to see that on your list of hobbies, so I think be quite selective in the way that you present them.
Incidentally, we try not to use the word hobbies because it does have connotations to things which could be slightly obsessive compulsive. Things like train spotting and stamp collecting and things like that, so I would try to steer away from them. There is nothing wrong with them, it depends if you want them in your CV.
I know what will make me stand out...
Don't be frivolous. Don't just do gags and decide, won't it be hilarious if I carve my CV on a stick of bamboo? Because to apply on the grad scheme you are going to become a young business person.
I think the most original CV I've ever seen was the one in which a graphic designer presented to me a CV in a cardboard sachet that was sealed on three sides and it said, on the outside, "enclosed, one CV, tear here". You literally had to tear the sachet and open it to get it out. That would certainly stick in your mind.
Always be careful about just doing something because it's all about impact. It's not all about impact because someone can go, yup, I've noticed that and I just think it's terrible, and just push it away.
So i think this is coming together - anything else i need to know?
The important thing is to try to tailor it to the industry you are going into. For example, if you were going into law you would probably need to be quite detail oriented and analytical. If you were going into engineering you might need to be a good problem solver. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.
OK, so it's about identifying the skills that the particular job requires and then trying to ensure i represent i've got those in my CV somewhere. That's right and try to tailor it to the industry you're going into and the specific role.
The other thing to say is that while CVs go with the format they normally go out with a covering letter and you need to give some sensible thought to that and perhaps you can get a little bit more differentiation of yourself into that more easily that into the CV itself.
Now, the standard of covering letters is phenomenally poor and that creates quite an easy way to shake down most people's CVs.
I don't necessarily want anything that's too quirky or too off the wall but I'm just looking for a letter that brings that person to life in a bit more detail and really gives me feel for the way they would be in the role.
Got it! The basics are covered, it's not an essay, it's oozing personality, paper not bamboo and a covering letter! This is bound to get me through the front door.
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