Dos and Don'ts of a Graduate CV (or iProfile)

Taking the time to create your graduate CV properly is the first step towards realising your dream job.

Quite simply, the graduate CV is the best chance you'll get to present an employer with the skills, qualifications and experience that could win you interviews over thousands of other applicants. Unlike an application form that's used to obtain basic information about you, a graduate CV is like an advertisement - it can help you stand out and get noticed by the recruiter or employer.

What are these?

Skills-Based CV

The best graduate CV focuses on your skills, because a skills-based CV template can divert attention away from your lack of professional experience and towards other attributes. It converts your educational qualifications into relevant job skills, makes your CV compelling and saves time for employers who scan through thousands of CVs every day.

A well-written graduate CV emphasises the skills that your degree and education have given you, which can help level the playing field against more experienced candidates.

Ingredients for Success

The graduate CV capable of producing results will demonstrate evidence of your skills. It provides information under skill-based headings and keeps educational and work experience descriptions very brief.

Before you create your online CV, research your potential employer to know what skills you have that may be most relevant to them. It's a good idea to organise the following information before you start writing your graduate CV:

  • Personal details. Complete contact information, including name, address, telephone numbers and email address.
  • Personal profile. Keep this brief and focused on your career goals.
  • Skills and Achievements. Identify headings that are most relevant to the position. Then include proof of your abilities under skill-based headings like, for example, 'Business Awareness' and 'Teamwork and Leadership'. Many employers will look for 'IT Skills', which should be included if relevant. Remember that employers are rejecting job candidates before the interview stage because CVs fail to sell their most relevant work based achievements. Our research to found a mis-match between what employers look for on a CV and what job applicants deliver. Employers consider work-based achievements essential to a good CV, so don't spend time tinkering with the design than working on the content. The full research report can be found here.
  • Education. Present your education in reverse chronological order with your most recent qualifications first. Dates and names of institutions and locales are essential. It helps to highlight information on any relevant modules, dissertations or projects you've completed and the skills they helped develop.
  • Work experience. All experience, paid or voluntary, counts. This information is usually presented in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent employer. Since this could be a challenge for most graduates, it helps to focus on responsibilities, achievements, and examples of situations in which skills were used or developed. Using terminology relevant to the position you are applying for can give your CV a professional look as long as you don't load it down with jargon. iProfile allows you to easily change the order of sections on your CV.
  • References. It's a good idea to include two references in your graduate CV - one academic and one professional. Be sure to include designation and full contact information for references. Some CV writers state 'references available on request', in particular if the employer has not specifically asked for them. Make sure you seek permission from your references before including them in your CV.

Dos and Don'ts of the Graduate CV:

  • Don't use a generic CV for all job searching. Instead, customise your CV (or iProfile) for the specific position you're seeking.
  • Do use an appropriate, professional-sounding email ID on your online CV, not something like goodfornothing@hotmail.com.
  • Don't include irrelevant information. List you're most relevant and transferable skills on the first, and keep the whole document under two pages.
  • Do double check for any spelling and grammar mistakes in your CV before sending it out. Remember to present information in a clear and concise manner.
  • Don't use fancy or coloured paper for printed copies of your CV. Use plain white paper, and print on one side of the page only.
  • Don't include your marital status, age or gender on your CV unless it is relevant to the position.

Writing the Perfect iProfile CV

One last "do": continuously improve and upgrade your graduate CV as you continue searching for a job. iProfile offers a free CV template which makes it easy to customise and offers a range of additional benefits over a traditional CV, giving you more control over who is viewing your CV and instant feedback from recruiters and hiring managers. With iProfile your personal details are more secure, and it allows you to easily manage the whole job search from one place. It is also being adopted as the preferred template for recruiters and designed to get you noticed by hiring managers and employers, includes expert tips on interviewing, and other job-seeking advice. Smart graduates use these resources along with their graduate CV to increase the effectiveness of their job search.