The basics
Study abroad : Career Prospects

Writing your CV

About to graduate from university but uncertain as to how to find that first job? Below are a few simple tips for writing a successful CV or resume...

Writing your CV
2658

It's a good idea to start thinking about your career while still studying, though it's likely you've already given it some thought when choosing your course. The growing competition in the job market – particularly in certain popular areas like Law – requires individuals to slowly build their CVs and experience; this may be through getting involved in volunteering and internships, and having part-time, temporary and even full-time work experience to their name.

However, even if you have all this experience, you need to be able to communicate it to interviewers and potential employers effectively. This means being capable of putting together an impressive CV which highlights your strengths and stands out from the pack. This can be a tricky task, so here are some of the top tips that can come in handy:

 

Be honest

One thing to always keep in mind is that employers check and confirm what you write in your CV. This includes all your achievements, work experience and educational background. It’s for this reason that one should never make up anything in their CV. Be honest about your experiences and their outcomes. If you’re found out, it will only reflect badly on you, and may crop up even years down the line.

 

Be precise

Employers have dozens (and even hundreds) of CVs to go through for a single job post, so they can’t pay a lot of attention to every CV that comes across their desk. Often they will skim-read to filter out most. Be precise and make it easier for the employers to pick out the key points. Use exact skills, numbers, percentages, dates and events with short sentences to get your message through. Ambiguity or approximates can create more questions than answers, and employers may lose confidence in these kinds of answers.

 

Add a personal touch

Employers are not only interested in what you have done, so don’t worry if you’re lacking in the experience department. They look out for your interests, ambitions and objectives too so they can hire someone who has goals which they want to reach – this is why youth is sometimes itself a quality. When referring to personal goals, bring them back to how they would benefit the company. And while it can be worth mentioning some personal interests to make you stand out as a real person with depth, keep this to a minimum (consider how your interests may be perceived by someone who doesn’t know you or is unfamiliar with these).

 

Correct use of formatting

As mentioned earlier, employers are not likely to spend too much time on any one CV (at least when looking through all of them initially); that is why you need to make it easier for them to pick on the key points. For this reason, take advantage of formatting and structure. Use bullet points where possible and put important titles in bold or underline them. Proper use of punctuation will not only make it easier for the employer to go through your CV, but also make it professional, neat and organised.

 

Watch your grammar!

Employers can be highly put off by a grammatical or spelling mistake (especially if it is for a role where impeccable English is a must, like roles in Journalism or Publishing). It’s only two pages that represent all your skills, experiences and knowledge which is why it needs to be perfect. For this reason try not to overcomplicate things, keeping language in your CV simple (as we mentioned above, this will make it easier for employers to extract the key information they need, quickly). Keep an eye on commas, spellings, capital letters and other punctuation to ensure they have been used appropriately. If you’re applying to an employer in another country, make sure you use terms and spellings which are accepted in that country (for example, the difference in UK and US spellings). While studying at a higher level should mean you should have excellent spelling, punctuation and grammar, if English isn't your first language, ask a friend to look over your CV for these. Also, if your printer decides to reformat or reorganise parts, check that it has come out as it appears onscreen.

 

Courtesy of: Monster

 

Customise your CV for each role

Making a general CV with all your educational and professional experiences is a good starting point; however submitting a general CV for every job you apply to is not a wise idea! Customise your CV according to each job you are applying to. Look at the job description and think which educational and professional experience is relevant to that job and which skills should you mention on your CV. If necessary, use some of the same language or phrases from the job description to emphasise that you are the perfect fit for the role. You might also wish to change the order in which your achievements are listed on your CV, with most relevant ones first. This takes more time, but you’ll find that quality is indeed more important than quantity. Sending out a lot of CVs may give you a sense of accomplishment, but if you can send out fewer CVs with more effort put in to these, you're more likely to get somewhere.

 

Self-awareness is a gift!

This tip is not only for formulating your CV, but also for your interviews. It is best to know your strengths, weaknesses, interests and ambitions. You should have a clear idea of what you have already done, what you have achieved from it and what you wish to do in future – this will help you improve your ability answer questions on the spot (while not sounding too rehearsed). This is why you should never hesitate to mention your contributions or take credit for them. Employers appreciate applicants who are clear and confident about themselves, and about the company and job role they are applying to. Talking yourself up is a standard requisite of applying for jobs so don’t be too modest, provided you can back it up with sufficient evidence.

 

Keep your CV updated

Make sure before you submit your CV it has all relevant information to date – this might be important if you haven’t looked at your CV in a while and are working from an old document. It is also a good idea to emphasise your recent achievements rather than your old ones. The most infuriating thing can be sending off a CV to a job you really want, with old information; messaging them with the correct information later can be embarrassing. Employers won’t want to have to chase you to get in touch; they’ll simply move on instead.

 

Ask for help

Once you are done with your CV and you are ready to apply for the position, get a second opinion. They do say 'two minds are better than one', and it's even better if you can have a career counsellor from your university take a look at your CV, or simply someone who has experience hiring employees (a parent or friend perhaps?). They can help you prepare for interviews too. 

 

 

You might also like to read...

‘Who can I ask to be a reference?’

Or you can browse our full Career Prospects section

 

Search for a course

Choose a country
Study level*
About Author

Writing your CV

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.