Does the perfect graduate CV exist?

Realistically, there’s no such thing as the perfect CV. Graduate CV writing is an art, and is an extremely subjective process about which industry professionals frequently disagree.

We’ve used ‘How to Write the Perfect Graduate CV’ as the title of this article primarily because it’s snappy, but also because it’s a popular phrase that graduates search the internet for – and it might even be how you ended up here.

Similar thinking applies to graduate CV writing itself. You need to make it easy for people to find you, and you need to make it succinct, effective and straightforward.

But a better title for this article may well be…

5 tips for writing a noticeable CV

There will be over 36 million graduates in the UK this year. That’s a lot of competition in the job market. And with the number of people graduating only getting higher, you’ll want to ensure that you really stand out from the crowd when your turn comes to secure your dream job.

That said, here are five of our most effective graduate CV writing tips to help you get started on writing your perfect CV. (We’ll share 5 more tips later this month, so check back).


1. Use Keywords

Start by using the right keywords to sneak past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Recruitment databases use many different algorithms, but they all rely on candidates using standard CV templates and titles with good keyword population.

2. Research

Look at job descriptions and online job sites to identify the most relevant keywords for your sector, such as investment banking or law, and the position you’re going for, then scatter these throughout your CV. If you’re struggling to fit them all into your previous roles and experience, you might want to add a ‘key skills’ section so you can cover them all.

3. Follow a plan

Make sure you understand what your strengths are, and that they relate to the role(s) you wish to apply for. Don’t just put down your job history with a list of responsibilities. Identify your competencies, then think of ways in which you can illustrate them and tailor them to the job you’re applying for.

You’ll need specific examples to call upon at the interview stage, so you might as well make a note of them in the process and add some relevant ones to your CV.

4. Write a great profile

This is your business case, and is often a ‘make-or-break’ element of the CV, given how little time most recruiters allow per candidate. Do you have a unique selling point? What sets you apart from the competition? What are the things you’ve done at work that you’re most proud of?

Think of this section as your ‘elevator pitch’ in selling yourself and skills to someone.

5. Tell your story

Use strong, active verbs in the simple past tense and describe your professional experience in two distinct sections. First, an overview of what you were hired to do, and then your career trajectory at the firm. Think scope, scale and context.

Find expert graduate CV writers

Still concerned about the quality of your CV even after fine-tuning it? At City CV, we are proud to offer an award-winning CV writing service that will help you get ahead of the crowd and create a sense of confidence that you will take with you up to interview level.

Find out more about our graduate CV writing service.

Join our next webinar on June 30th at 12.30pm. Find out more and sign up for ‘Get Job Ready: Creating a Winning Graduate CV’.