Does anyone actually enjoy writing their CV? Probably not (especially those chasing graduate jobs). And when you break it down it’s easy to see why CV fails happen.
For starters, it means condensing your entire life to date onto a single-sided A4 sheet. What do you leave out? What stays in?
Then there’s the murky issue of self-promotion, which, understandably, gives most people the ick. How much swagger is too much swagger when you’re applying for grad jobs?
The whole thing is a minefield. Oh yeah, and just for a bit of added spice, this is the thing you’re going to be judged on. Your whole career depends upon it. No pressure!
At NST Graduate, we know how hard it is to nail your CV – especially if you have limited job-seeking experience. That’s why we take all our candidates through a CV screening process before helping them find the graduate job or graduate scheme that’s perfect for them.
If you want your CV to stay on top of the ‘shortlisted candidates’ pile for your dream graduate job in 2022, swerve these job-seeker slip-ups (we see them all the time)…
1. Listing roles and responsibilities – but not impact
Recruiters for graduate vacancies sift through hundreds of CVs. For each one, they ask themselves: “Is this someone who’s going to contribute to the growth of our business?”
For that reason, you don’t simply want to list what you did in your previous work experience – you need to highlight the impact you made.
What does that mean? It means backing up any previous experience with stats, numbers and percentages to show you made a difference.
So instead of: “I was responsible for coming up with content ideas and posting to social media.”
You might write: “I planned and executed 10 social posts per week, contributing to a 2% rise in engagement and 5% increase in followers year on year.”
2. Providing the wrong level of detail
Here’s a brutal fact: your CV will be read for around 30 seconds before a recruiter decides whether or not to pass it on to the hiring manager. That’s the amount of time you have to make an impact.
Because of this, it’s vital that you get the level of detail right. Recruiters definitely don’t have time to read paragraphs of waffle, but they do need to understand what you’ve achieved and why you’d be a success.
It helps if your CV is formatted in a way that makes it easy to scan. Think subheadings, bullet points and sidebars over dense chunks of text.
3. Underselling your experience
Given that you’ve spent most of your life in education, it’s not surprising that the ‘Work Experience’ section on your CV is looking a bit light. But don’t let that be a source of anxiety. Chances are you’ve done other stuff that shows prospective employers you mean business.
Written for a blog? That’s valuable experience. Started a YouTube channel or recorded a podcast? That counts too.
Volunteering’s another good one. As is joining a university society. And don’t forget to list any online courses you’ve taken.
4. Bad spelling and grammar
Ok, so this is an obvious one. But remember that bit about recruiters for various jobs having to sift through hundreds of CVs? Don’t give them an excuse to dismiss yours without a second thought: triple-check that your spelling and grammar are on point.
5. Not customising your CV to the graduate job you’re applying for
A typical graduate job description includes a bulleted list of skills and keywords the employer is looking for in their ideal candidate. You should always map your CV against this.
Think of it as a checklist: for each keyword listed in the job spec, your CV needs to include a line that demonstrates your proficiency in that particular skill.