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A solid graduate CV is your ticket to your first job after university. It showcases your educational achievements to date and demonstrate how they relate to the job you’re applying for. That’s paired with your work history and any transferable skills you’ve acquired through previous roles.
In the current job market, competition is fierce – especially for graduates who have little to no experience in their industry outside of their studies. The pressures can be overwhelming for graduates looking to get their foot in the door and embark on their dream career, particularly as student loans loom overhead.
So, when that perfect job comes along, being ready is of vital importance. From preparing for interview questions to reading CV examples, there are many steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of job application success.
To make things easier, myPerfectCV has a range of graduate CV samples and templates, plus step-by-step guidance.
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Sample graduate CV
217C Fairey Street
Birmingham B45 8GWA
Effective Graduate Student committed to learning, developing skills in Economics and team contribution. Self-directed and energetic with superior performance in both autonomous or collaborative environments working independently and collaborating with others on group projects.
- Point Of Sale system operation
- Account management
- Payment accepting
- Cash handling
- Purchase assistance
- Customer advising
- Cash register operations
- Service knowledge
- Report writing
- Pricing structures
- Forecasting skills
- Economic development consultations
- Economic policy research
- Economic planning
June 2022 – Current
Shop&Save – Birmingham
- Handled cash and card payments with precision, maintaining customer confidentiality and discretion throughout.
- Used cash registers and POS systems to request and record customer orders and compute transactions.
- Educated customers on promotions, offers and special events to enhance product sales.
- Completed opening and closing procedures each day.
University of Birmingham Birmingham
Bachelor of Science Economics
Graduate CV template
Using a pre-made CV templates will help you get the right CV structure for graduates with all the right sections and a suitable design. You can then tailor it to your requirements to build a mathematics or psychology graduate CV, for example. You’ll thank yourself later, when your CV takes around half the time to create and looks a whole lot better.
Choosing a format for your graduate CV
Your CV format refers to the ‘blueprint’ that sets out how information will be displayed in your graduate CV. In the UK, there are two CV formats that are used most frequently. Generally speaking, the standard format is reverse chronological CV. This places your work history at the forefront, as not only is it the largest section in the CV, but it also appears right near the top, just after your personal statement.
Your work history will be recorded in reverse-chronological order, meaning that the most recent job should be listed first. Then, you’ll work backwards through relevant job roles. Many graduate CV examples will use this format, as it can showcase your practical work experience alongside knowledge gained on your degree.
However, if you have little to no work experience, a skills-based CV might be a better option. A graduate CV that utilises this format will feature a larger section for ‘skills’ where there would usually be a ‘work history’ section. For this structure, you’ll list the competencies that you excel at, with specific examples of how you’ve achieved core competencies in each group.
The other part of the answer is how you should format your CV in terms of its appearance. Here are some things to bear in mind:
- Your CV should be 1-2 pages – ideally one or two rather than one and a half, for example
- A professional font like Arial or Times New Roman is best
- Use subheadings and bullet points to break up text
- Save your CV as a Word document or PDF ready for sending – unless the job ad specifies another format
How to write a CV for a graduate
Whether it’s a recent graduate CV or you’re just planning ahead for life after graduation, our guide on how to write a CV for graduates will help your application pass with flying colours.
- Contact details for your graduate CV
- How to nail your graduate CV personal statement
- How to get experience right on a graduate CV
- Top skills for your graduate CV
- Get top marks for education on your graduate CV
Contact details for your graduate CV
An important but often overlooked section of any graduate CV example is the contact details. You need to make sure you list several ways for recruiters to get in touch. That includes your full name and address, as well as an up-to-date phone number and email.
Make sure it’s the number of a phone you have to hand and an email address you check, so you can respond to recruiters quickly. You should also ensure that the email address is work-appropriate. Don’t be tempted to use email@example.com in your graduate CV.
- Your full name – no need for middle names
- Location – so that employers know your area
- Phone number – pick a mobile if possible
- Email address – ensure this is a professional email address
Example of how to display your contact details
284B McKelvie Road
Glasgow, G12 1U 07912345678
How to nail your graduate CV personal statement
A personal statement acts as a CV summary for fresh graduates. It introduces you with a brief profile, including your degree, an overview of any relevant experience, and some key personal qualities. In terms of length, it shouldn’t exceed four sentences, so keep it succinct. Don’t be tempted to copy and paste details from your work experience or education. Your personal statement should be unique and distinct from the body of your CV.
Whether you’re writing a chemistry graduate CV or looking for your first job as an engineer or a data analyst, your personal profile should include specific details that show why you’re the perfect candidate for the role. You can also use this section to highlight your own career goals and why this particular role fits your career progression like a glove.
Given that this is the first thing recruiters will read, it’s good to grab their attention with some specifics in this section. That could be your 100% attainment in a particular subject, 5 years of experience in voluntary roles, or just your first-class honours degree in a relevant subject.
Here are some other simple tips to keep the personal statement on point:
- Writing in the third person is more professional, taking the focus off of you and putting it on your skills
- 50-100 words is fine for your personal statement
- Keep the tone professional from the get-go – don’t take “personal” too literall
- Write your personal statement with the job description in mind
To get your graduate CV profile right, it’s best to look at a few CV personal statement graduate examples. This will give you a better idea of what exactly to include, how to word your summary, and how to keep things concise.
Example of personal statement for a graduate CV
Ambitious Hospitality graduate with two years’ experience in entry-level roles. Knowledgeable about customer care, event planning, and team management. Clear communicator with great attention to detail and a hard-working nature.
Proactive and energetic graduate with focus on using marketing training to build a career foundation. Holds a 2:1 degree in Digital Marketing from Salford University. Seeks out opportunities to go beyond basic course material and gain deeper understanding or hands-on experience.
How to get experience right on a graduate CV
Though you might initially assume that a graduate CV will focus on education, that doesn’t mean that your work experience section isn’t important too.
Whether you’ve worked in many jobs or none at all, taking a look at a graduate CV example can help you to decide what to include. And if you’re in need of some extra CV writing guidance, take a look at our work experience advice below:
Make it transferable
When writing a graduate CV, you might assume that your work history is irrelevant. However, you could be surprised by what’s relevant to your job application. Even if you don’t have work experience specific to the industry, you might have plenty of relevant transferable qualities.
For example, if you’ve worked in waitressing, you’ll have lots of experience with communication and teamwork. No matter the job, these kinds of soft skills are always essential and can help you to stand out from the crowd.
Again, there’s no need to pad out your graduate CV with unnecessary details. Keep to the last two to three roles, focusing on relevant aptitudes and competencies. If you have little to no experience, a skills-based CV format might be a better choice for you.
Tick all the boxes
Just like your education history, you’ll need to list out your work experience in a particular order. Here are the sections you’ll need to include:
- Start and end dates of employment
- Job title, company, and location
- 3-6 duties and responsibilities
Like in this example:
01/2022 – Present
Cashier | Shop & Save – Reading
- Processed POS transactions, including checks, cash and credit purchases or refunds.
- Worked with customer service to resolve issues.
- Operated cash registers with proficiency during high-volume shopping times, reducing customer queues.
Top skills for your graduate CV
Key CV skills are an essential part of any graduate CV example. Whether it’s Photoshop and graphic design for an artist CV or budgeting and data for an accountant CV, the more industry-specific capabilities you have, the better. Quite simply, ability is integral to a graduate CV, as you may still not have the level of work experience that other candidates have.
In a skills-based CV, you have more room to go into detail about how you’ve showcased your qualities. Even in a reverse-chronological CV, you can emphasise the knowledge and abilities you’ve developed through work and academic experience. Taking a look at some graduate CV examples can help you to decide exactly how you want to set them out.
While competencies may vary based on your specialism, there are a selection of must-have transferable qualities that all graduates should possess:
Must-have graduate skills for your CV
- Attention to detail
- Clear communication
- Time management
- Task prioritisation
- Analytical skills and critical thinking
- Word processing skills including Microsoft Office
Soft skills as an added extra
- Teamwork from group projects
- Presentations and public speaking
- Notetaking and shorthand
- Following a brief
- Project management
- Business acumen
Get top marks for education on your graduate CV
On a graduate CV, your solid education is arguably one of the most important sections you’ll write. This will include details of your academic background, so recruiters can see at first glance how you’ll fit into the role. However, learning how to write a CV often means realising what not to include. Here are some tips to get it right the first time.
Add relevant qualifications
Whether you’re writing a CV for a finance assistant role or a computer science graduate CV, you’ll need to include the most relevant qualifications to the job you’re applying to. In the case of a graduate CV, this will usually be your bachelor’s degree. For some jobs, this could even be enough for your education history. However, for many jobs you’ll also need to include your A-Levels.
Don’t go too far back
There’s no need to include your entire education history, however. Recruiters looking for a dental assistant are unlikely to be interested in a music studies GCSE. Only your most recent and relevant qualifications are required. Don’t be tempted to fluff out your CV with unnecessary information.
List the most recent first
In a graduate CV, you’ll usually need to record your education history in reverse-chronological order – in other words, your most recent qualifications first. You’ll need to include some specific pieces of information:
- Date the qualification was received (or when it’s expected)
- Level of qualification and subject
- Institution where qualification was studied
Example of education for a graduate CV
Expected in 2023
Bachelor of Science: Economics
University of Manchester
Dos and don’ts for your graduate CV
- DO make your graduate CV job-specificAs a graduate, there’s a chance you’ll be applying for quite a diverse range of roles. If you send a generic graduate CV sample to recruiters, they’ll usually be able to spot it. Instead, tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for using keywords from the job description. It will improve your chances with ATS software and keep recruiters happy.
- DO show your specialismRecruiters should be able to tell the difference between a computer science graduate CV and one for a law graduate. While it’s important to include plenty of transferable aptitudes, you should also ensure your graduate job CV is focused to your area of expertise and how this makes you a good fit for the job at hand.
- DON’T skip the cover letter Along with a graduate CV, another important tool for graduates is a covering letter. A cover letter should be no more than one page and feature several paragraphs that provide a succinct overview of why you’re the ideal candidate. You can also use it to go into more detail about your education and experience, as well as how this job fits into your future career.
- DON’T forget to double-checkIn a recent graduate CV, it’s pretty likely that attention to detail will be amongst your key transferable qualities. That won’t seem to be true if it’s contained within a CV that’s full of errors. However confident you are with your finished CV, make sure you proofread from top to bottom for typos, mistakes, or anything that doesn’t make sense.
Top FAQs about your graduate CV
How to write a graduate CV with no experience?
Whilst it can be daunting at first, writing a graduate CV with no experience isn’t as complicated as you might think:
- Firstly, it’s best to create a skills-based CV that focuses more closely on your abilities, rather than your work history.
- Like our graduate CV example, you should balance your area of expertise with transferables acquired through your studies or previous roles.
- If you do have some experience from part-time work, summer jobs or voluntary roles, be sure to include it in a work history section, which comes after your skills.
- It’s usually a good idea to have a few versions of your CV tailored to different roles, which can be further personalised with some key phrases from the job description.
- Taking a look at some graduate CV examples – or examples from your desired career path.
What should a graduate CV look like?
In terms of appearance, your graduate CV layout should be easy for recruiters to skim-read. The best way to do this is by separating it into sections with clear headings, such as:
- Personal statement
- Key skills
- Work history
Design-wise, it’s best to stay formal with a conventional font like Arial. You can use professional colours like navy for headings or margins if you want to give your graduate CV a touch of personality, but the main body should use black font. Using a graduate CV template will give you a head start with a suitable design.
How long should a graduate CV be?
In the UK, a general rule of thumb is to keep your CV within one to two pages. The CV structure for graduates is no exception. If you’re lacking work experience, it’s definitely worth keeping your CV to one page in length. Recruiters won’t want to read more than a page unless it’s highly relevant to the role. Use bullet points for key skills and job responsibilities to keep your CV concise.
Does a graduate CV need a personal statement?
Yes – a graduate CV should always have a personal statement. It can make a very big difference to how employers receive your CV. You need to grab their attention quickly by summarising the most important parts of your CV right at the top of the page.
How to make a good CV for a fresh graduate?
To create a successful fresh graduate CV, you’ll need to ensure that your CV is focused on the most relevant capabilities and experience for the job you’re applying to. Always ensure you’ve read the job description and person specification several times before gathering information for your CV.
Build a first-class UK graduate CV
From physics to finance, accounting to engineering, and criminology to computer science, myPerfectCV can help you build a graduate CV that ticks every box. Find the perfect layout with our pre-made CV templates. See how it’s done with graduate CV examples. Then download in PDF, Word or other formats when your CV is completed.
With our CV builder, you can even select pre-written content for your personal statement, skills, and work history. Get started on your graduate CV today!