Whether you are a fresh graduate who is looking to land your first job or an experienced professional who is applying for a higher position, a well-written CV is a crucial tool that you have to focus on crafting into perfection in order to attract and convince hiring managers that you are the best candidate for the job.
Drafting your very first CV can get a little daunting especially to a fresh graduate. So many questions come to mind because you have to do it from scratch:
- Where do you start?
- Which information should you include?
- How should you format it?
This feeling of anxiety and frustration is understandable. It does get a little stressful for job seekers to apply alongside so many applicants who are vying for the same job and who have practically the same qualifications as you. Needless to say, job seeking has become so competitive throughout the years that applicants have finally understood the importance of submitting a CV that is well-written, relevant, and targeted.
How do you write a CV that will stand out in a pool of hundreds of other CVs, get you the callback, and ultimately the job? Here are some tips to help you write a CV that will put you in the best light possible.
Keep it simple
Because fresh graduates are new to this task, they tend to overthink their CV and that is not necessarily bad. But you have to remember to keep the design and format simple. For applicants who are not applying for a creative position, it is best to submit a minimalistic CV with no frills.
That is to say, avoid using logos and images and stick with text, use a simple font that is readable, and keeps it short. You will learn along the way what to include and what not to include in your CV to following these recommendations.
Do your research
Research eats up a lot of time but is very crucial to job seeking. Spare some time to look for job openings that you actually like and are aligned to your education, experience, and interests. There are so many job websites available online that you can open an account on to help you with that.
Once you are done shortlisting the job openings that you like, make a list of the job requirements and ensure that you include it in your application. Spare also an extra time to go to their official websites to research on other requirements that may not have been included in the job advertisements.
First impressions last
With hundreds of applicants possibly vying for the same position, you are going to need to make an instant impact to catch these hiring managers’ attention. Make sure to make a good first impression by creating a simple CV that is easy to read. To do this, write in bullet points and short paragraphs, or learn from top websites on how to write a well-written CV.
Additionally, you have to define sections with short and relevant subheadings so they will know the content of that specific portion. More importantly, you might want to highlight your most valuable experiences and skills that are most relevant to the job position on top of your CV so that they are easily seen.
When you make a good first impression, hiring managers are going to want to read your entire CV instead of just skimming through it.
Compensate for your lack of work experience
The problem that fresh graduates often face is the lack of work experience. But this does not mean that you have nothing to write on your CV. You can focus on your skills that were acquired through internships, organizations, and volunteer works.
As an example, volunteer work can demonstrate your workplace exposure. It highlights your passion for a particular subject and your ability to work with a team.
Do not be coy and sell yourself instead. There is nothing wrong with trying to impress the hiring managers with your experiences and skills. To do this, you might want to include a brief summary of your most valued qualifications and skills on top of your CV. Additionally, a good cover letter can do a lot of wonders to your application. It allows you to insert the qualifications that you were not able to include in your CV.
You can also prove your value by showing the honors and awards that your received from your school, organizations, and from the competitions that you have won such as in sports, debates, and the like.
Expand on your interests
As a fresh graduate, you are going to have a limited amount of information that you can include in your CV so you have to think of creative ways to expand your CV and prove that you have something to offer to their business. To do this, you can expand on your interests to help you set apart from other candidates.
You can include personal projects such as your blog and website, your sports teams, volunteer work such as charities and fundraisers. Allot some time to think about these so as not to miss out on any important point. Listing them down can help, too, before you proceed to include them in your CV.
Focus on value instead of tasks
This is a strategy that is often overlooked not just by fresh graduates but by applicants in general. Instead of just putting all of your experiences, try to elaborate on them by highlighting the values and skills that you have acquired by working on the following. Remember that your fellow candidates are going to have basically the same qualifications as you so it can work to at least try to set yourself apart from the pool.
As an example, when you include your volunteer work in your CV, make sure to include the fact that this provided you with work exposure such as the ability to work with a team and the ability to execute plans.
While it is important for fresh graduates to expand and elaborate as much as possible, this has its limits, too. Remember to always stay relevant. Include only experiences, skills, and interests that are actually connected to the job that you are applying for. Make sure to target your CV and not make it look like you only made something general to submit to everyone.
Each company will have its own culture and traditions and set of skills to look for. Make sure to research on each company that you are interested in to learn more about their vision and mission, and try to address those in your CV. Needless to say, this means that your CV has to be customized for each job application.
Highlight your leadership skills
Companies value leadership skills the most because while fresh graduates may not currently have the necessary skills for the job, graduates who are natural leaders are easier to train and ultimately become good assets in the company.
Hiring managers find these potentials in leaders so when expanding on your experiences, skills, and interests, make sure to include the things that you were responsible for and your achievements.
To wrap it up…
What you have not read so far is the fact that, at the end of the day, what is most important is that you have self-confidence. Believe in yourself that you deserve the job and everything else will follow. If you find this difficult, you can always start by following these nine tips for fresh graduates like yourself.
Malia Keirsey is an independent author, freelance web designer and guest contributor from Chicago. She writes about education, blogging, writing, and other tips. Follow @MaliaKeirsey on Twitter.