When applying for graduate jobs, your CV is your biggest key to unlocking your dream role. It is your opportunity to sell yourself to potential employers by highlighting your strengths, skills and experience. The term CV is short for ‘curriculum-vitae’ which translates from Latin to ‘the course of my life’. Writing a graduate CV can be daunting, as although you’ve just spent at least 3 years learning and immersing yourself in your chosen area, you’re unlikely to have had much experience in terms of working. So, how do you write a standout graduate CV to land your dream job in technology? Read on to find out our 8 top tips.
The first thing to keep in mind when writing your CV is to keep it clear, concise and efficient. At graduate level your CV should be no longer than 2 pages. Research has shown that recruiters spend an average of 6-8 seconds looking at a CV before they decide if you are suitable for a role before they move on, so your CV needs to be clearly laid out. Often, CVs are screened by a recruitment professional before they actually go to the person who is hiring. It’s good to keep this in mind when structuring your resume; make sure your skills are clearly highlighted and your experience is in chronological order. When applying for technical roles, your creative flair won’t usually be important, so ensure you use a professional and clear template.
The first thing a recruiter reads on your CV should be a professional summary. This is a short statement which summarises who you are, what you do and what you could bring to the company you’re applying to. This is your chance to capture the attention of the recruiter and make them want to know more about you. Later in this article we speak about tailoring your CV for each job you apply for, and this is true for your professional summary. Study the job description to really understand what the employer is looking for from the candidate and ensure your statement tells them that you are the person they should hire.
I am a committed and detail-driven IT Graduate with a keen interest in data analytics looking to start my career in a growing company. Passionate about using my strong problem-solving and attention to detail to help drive data-driven business decisions and grow my knowledge and experience further.
In technology roles, much emphasis is placed on hard skills such as programming languages and operating systems. However, equally as important are soft skills and it’s key not to overlook these when writing your CV. Technical skills can be taught, but soft skills are more interpersonal and strengths which grow based on an individual’s life experience and upbringing. Including skills like teamwork, problem-solving, attention to detail, adaptability and leadership can really help to sell you to a recruiter. Use examples from your studies or previous jobs of situations where you demonstrated these skills. For example, did you lead a team through a task in one of your modules at university? Or perhaps you demonstrated great communication skills whilst working in a part-time role.
Graduate roles are some of the most competitive out there, with graduate candidates outnumbering vacancies in many industries. Therefore, if you don’t have any solid work experience, it’s important to turn your university work and projects into experience to showcase to recruiters that you’re right for their company. Include modules which are extremely relevant to the role you’re applying for, and leave out those which aren’t relevant. Make sure you highlight any impressive results or grades, and mention any skills (technical and soft) which you picked up or developed along the way. By tailoring your university experiences, you can fill the gaps of work experience you might be lacking at this early stage in your career.
As we mentioned earlier, when hiring for a technical role many recruiters will be looking for key skills and expertise related to the job at hand. Again, it’s important to carefully study the job advert to find out what the employer is looking for in terms of competence & skills. For example, if they mention a specific programming language, highlight your knowledge and understanding of this within your key skills section of your CV. If one of your university modules focused on a platform, language or system, ensure you include these underneath your university section. If the job you’re applying for is highly technical, consider placing a ‘technical skills’ section at the top of your CV (after your professional summary).
A CV is not only a place for education and professional experience. One way to stand out from other candidates and impress recruiters is to include extracurricular activities you’ve taken part in. Perhaps you took some time to complete an online course, or maybe you interned at a company over a summer break. These kinds of activities show passion and enthusiasm for the industry, things which any recruiter will want.
It may sound time-consuming, but you need to ensure you’re tailoring your CV to each individual application you make. Especially if you’re not including a cover letter. Even if you’re looking at software engineer roles, each company is going to be looking for different skills and characteristics. You don’t need to write a whole new CV every time, but by ensuring you are adjusting the skills you feature or the modules you talk about, you will be much more likely to catch a recruiter’s eye. You need to make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to see your suitability for the role.
Once you’re happy with your CV, send it to a trusted friend or relative, ideally one who isn’t in the same field as you. This way, you will know if it makes sense and is clear. A lot of the time, the person reading the CVs is in HR rather than tech, so try not to be too technical with your language. Your friend or relative will be able to spot areas where you have been too technical and you can adjust it so it’s in layman’s terms. There are also sites which offer free CV reviews such as TopCV if you want professional feedback.
The most important thing when writing your Graduate tech CV is to ensure it’s concise, clear and sells you as a potential employee. Focus on your strengths and tailor the resume for each role you’re applying for and you’ll stand above the other applicants. Good luck in your job search!
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