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Graduate CV template. Get the ticket to your dream career, right here!

Get your expert advice and a free cv template designed by the UK’s No.1 cv consultant

student writing graduate cv

Graduate CV template. Get the ticket to your dream career, right here!

So, you’re here to get your free graduate cv template. And it’s a simple effective downloadable word doc. And yes, you can have it right now! But, if you just take a few minutes to read the rest of this post, you’ll learn how to take this template from graduate cv to graduate ‘SEE ME!’ With expert cv help from Prospects and the UK’s leading CV consultancy – The CV centre, you’ll be off chasing grad schemes and grad jobs, safe in the knowledge you’ll stand out from the crowd.

So, if you want to learn how to polish that cv to perfection, with advice direct from the experts, then read on, but first you’ll need your graduate cv template!

So, you’ve got your graduate cv template, great! But how do you turn it into the ticket to your dream career? Well, we and our experts are going to tell you, but first let us introduce them.

Who are they?

The CV Centre is the world’s NO.1 cv writing service! Founded in 1998 by best-selling careers author, James Innes. James has written a number of career self-help books including ‘The CV book.’

What can they do for you?

  • Review your graduate cv for FREE
  • Write your graduate cv, LinkedIn Profile and cover letter from just £79
  • Complete your job application form
  • Write your UCAS personal statement
  • Offer graduate job and internship interview coaching
  • Graduate cv and cover letter proof-reading
  • Audit your online image

Who are they?

Home of the UK’s biggest graduate careers site and with over 40 years industry experience, PROSPECTS are the UK’s No.1 graduate career experts, guiding, inspiring and informing students about their many career options.

What can they do for you?

  • Offer graduate cv and cover letter advice
  • Provide access to a HUGE database of available grad jobs and internships
  • Provide insight into just about every job sector you can think of!
  • Offer advice to help you make the most of your internship
  • Offer insight into the health of the graduate job market. Find out how things are looking right HERE
a close up of someone typing graduate cv on mac laptop

When it comes to writing a winning graduate cv the first thing you need to understand is your cv’s purpose. Ok yes, it’s obviously to land you an interview, but understanding exactly how it does that is the key to cv success. PROSPECTS tell us your graduate cv should:

• Introduce you as a promising potential candidate for the role
• Present all of your relevant skills and accomplishments
• Tell a story of your professional experience to date
• Reflect something of your character through your professional statement and interests sections

It should not:

• Be an exhaustive list of your every achievement
• Include a lengthy description of every course you've ever taken
• Contain information just to 'bulk it out'. Being concise will help maintain reader interest

Every cv starts with the same fundamental building blocks:

toy building blocks annotated with key sections of graduate CV

Answering common questions, dispelling myths and pointing out mistakes to avoid, we are going to teach you how to perfectly build each section. So, open up a word doc, or grab a pen and get ready to create your winning graduate cv.

Personal details

If your old student cv is headed with the words ‘curriculum vitae’ then you’ve found your first mistake, and you’ll want to hit the delete button right now! But don’t beat yourself up, it’s a common mistake to make. Traditionally yes cvs were headed this way, but today best practice is to open with your name. It’s fairly obvious to the recruiter the nature of the document they are looking at, they don’t need it spelling out to them, especially considering how often candidates incorrectly spell curriculum vitae!

So, start with your name, simple enough. Then, follow up with your address, phone number, email and any links to an online portfolio or blog. Present this information as a letterhead not a list, not only does it look better it also saves valuable space and as we all know space on a cv is precious!

Contact info section from example graduate cv

As for the details themselves, here are some space-saver and face-saver tips:

Address: 

There’s no need to list your country or county unless you are planning to relocate. You can also lose the comma between your city and postcode.

Phone number: 

If you are applying for a grad scheme abroad, first of all, NICE! Second, remember to include the international dialling code. 

Email: 

Keep it professional people! wildchild@example.com or jackthelad@example.com probably won’t go down well with a recruiter. Stick to your name and nothing else.

You.com: 

Did you know 90% of recruiters google a candidate before inviting them to an interview. With a strong online presence, you stand a much greater chance of making it to the next stage. If you own a domain name make sure to include it in your contact details, unless of course it paints you in an unprofessional light. A good online image is essential. Learn more about it HERE.

Leave it out: 

DO NOT include your date of birth or marital status, it’s irrelevant and overly personal, that being said it’s nothing compared to the level of detail one candidate shared in their graduate cv  You can read all about it HERE, honestly it will shock you!

Professional Profile

Your professional profile is basically your graduate cv personal statement. It’s your first and main opportunity to sell yourself. It needs to swiftly and succinctly tell the reader who you are and what makes you great. It should communicate your relevant skills, strengths and experience, but above all, if you want the recruiter to read the rest of your cv it MUST spark their interest. How do you do that you ask? We’ll tell you:

Lose the I, my, me 

Constantly saying “I did this,” “I did that” quickly becomes repetitive. Try to write in the 3rd person, and the best way to do that brings us to our next point…

Choose your words 

Avoid I strain and give your professional profile some punch by starting your sentences strong with action verbs. Here are some examples to get you started and you can find more HERE ,185 to be precise!

List of positive verbs to use for a graduate cv

Reinforce your statements with adjectives such as:

List of positive adjectives to use for a graduate cv

Get it all down 

Using action verbs and positive adjectives write down any and all statements that best showcase your professional qualities and achievements. Where possible use figures to maximise impact. Don’t just make a claim, back it up!

The easiest way to create your profile is by initially writing a much longer version than you actually need. Get all your thoughts down then edit! - James Innes

Edit. Edit. Edit. 

Unlike your UCAS statement your professional profile needs to be short. Aim for a paragraph of between 5 to 10 lines and no more! If you can’t sell yourself in less than 10 lines your pitch needs some work. Take everything you’ve written down and cut until you are left with something short and powerful, something that communicates your BEST and most RELEVANT sales points.

Format your profile as a paragraph, there will be plenty of bullet points throughout the rest of your graduate cv, an opening paragraph makes for a nice visual contrast. - James Innes

Professional profile example from a graduate cv

One size fits all 

It might be extra work but tailoring your professional profile to each job really does pay off. Take a look at the job posting, what is the recruiter looking for and do your listed skills match? While you may have chosen to cut a particular skill or statement from your graduate cv for one job, it may be exactly what the recruiter is looking for in another. So, keep hold of that original list, you never know when you might need it.

Objective

Your objective needs to tell the recruiter in no more than two lines what kind of position you are looking for. It should also subtly indicate what you can offer them. Like your professional profile your objective should be written in the same paragraph format. Depending on space and personal preference you can choose to either incorporate it into your professional profile or keep it separate. It also goes without saying make sure to tailor this section for each job, you don’t want to be applying for a position as X while stating you want to work as Y.  

Education and qualifications

Your education and qualifications should be written in reverse chronological order, put your most recent qualifications first, focus on those and summarise the rest. It’s a concept many applicants struggle with in cv writing, but when it comes to your education and qualifications the devil isn’t in the detail.  This section should take up no more than three to four lines. As a graduate candidate all a recruiter needs to know is:

Your degree subject. University. Year of graduation 

Number of A Levels. Year achieved 

Number of GCSEs including Maths and English. Year achieved 

Your graduate cv doesn’t need to tell the recruiter all the schools or colleges you attended or even the subjects you studied and every individual grade you attained. You have a degree, that’s your selling point, your GCSE and A Level grades are pretty irrelevant, unless of course you were a straight A student, which brings us to our next point.

While generally your degree is more than enough information for a recruiter, there are instances when you should provide details of your grades. These are when:

  1. Your grades are a major selling point. Note, even in this instance it’s still not necessary to list each individual subject and grade on your cv. Simply summarise, e.g. GCSEs (5 A*) (4 A’s) A Levels (2 A’s) (1 B)
  2. You are pursuing a career unrelated to your degree but have a good A Level grade in a relevant subject.

Being economical with the truth. No, you should NEVER lie on your cv, but there are times when you can and should be economical with the truth and that is with the class of your degree. Unless you have a first or a 2.1 do not include the class of your degree. A 2.2 or a 3rd is not going to add to your saleability, your degree alone is a strong enough selling point - James Innes

As a subsection of education and qualifications you should also list any relevant certifications or courses you’ve completed. Put this information directly below your school qualifications.

Employment History

Just like your education and qualifications, your work history should be written in reverse chronological order. And, while this section of your graduate cv does require a little more detail, you should still aim to keep it as concise as possible. For each position listed you will need to include the following information:

The company name and location 

If using abbreviated terms for private limited company remember to spell them correctly as plc and Ltd. Note, while Ltd has a full stop after it plc doesn’t.

The recruiter doesn’t need to know the company’s full address. Town or City and Country (if abroad) is all you need.

When you worked there 

There’s no need to add the months you worked from and to, the year is all a recruiter needs to know.

Your job title 

Do not embellish your job title, the recruiter may contact your previous employer and you’ll be caught out.

A description of what your role entailed. This is where you sell yourself, so make it compelling! 

Get ready to break out those action words again! You’re going to need them. As with your professional profile this section needs to be written in the 3rd person and each sentence should start with an action verb. However, unlike your professional profile, job descriptions should be written in bullet points, listed in a logical order. When describing each role, focus on your main duties and responsibilities. Where possible aim to give specific examples remembering to always emphasise your achievements.

PROSPECTS tip:

It's easy to make generic, empty statements on your graduate cv, particularly when you're trying to meet a tight application deadline. However, failing to give evidence of your skills, achievements and experiences can be a big mistake. Substantiate your claims with concise examples.

Work experience section from example graduate cv

James tip: Don’t sell yourself short. Remember to include any relevant unpaid work or volunteer experience.

As a fresh graduate with no experience this section may present you with some challenges. But fear not, both James and Prospects have some top graduate cv tips to help you overcome the no experience obstacle. This article by PROSPECTS is full of great advice for fresh grads, plus check out James’ top tips below.

James tip: Lead with your Education and Qualifications, these are your biggest selling point. If you were a committee member of any university societies tell the recruiter. Detail your role and responsibilities and explain any transferable skills you acquired. If you have zero work experience to draw on think about any skills you learnt over the course of your studies and list them within the key skills section, which brings us to…

Key skills

If your work experience is limited then the skills section of your cv is a great chance to sell your suitability to the role you’re applying for.

Think about the skills you gained through internships and other work over the course of your degree. Regardless of whether or not a skill was gained in a professional setting, write it down! A skill is a skill!

Once you have your list of skills break them up and list them in a logical order, if possible under subheadings such as:

Communication skills 

Interpersonal skills 

Technical competencies 

Research skills 

PROSPECTS TIP: Make it bespoke. One size doesn’t fit all. Take the time to tailor your CV to the company and job role described, so employers can see why you’re a perfect fit. Do your research and ensure your skills match the job description.
Skills section from example graduate cv

As tempting as it may be DO NOT lie or embellish. While it’s unlikely, you’ll be caught out you don’t want to be that person who claims to be fluent in Finnish only to be faced with a Scandinavian interviewer. That interview will be FINISHED before it’s even started! Get it?? Haha.

Interests

This is a section that often sparks debate and the question “Is a recruiter really interested?” It’s true, space on a cv is precious and if you are at risk of running over two pages then ‘interests’ is the section to lose. However, if you can, always aim to include it. In an otherwise dull document your interests give your graduate cv and more importantly YOU character. Plus, interesting or unusual interests also make for great interview ice breakers. There are two rules when it comes to sharing your interests:

1. Keep it simple 

Use bullet points. This is not the time for an essay detailing your passion for cosplay

2. Keep it professional

Sure, unusual and interesting hobbies are great for capturing a recruiters attention, but make sure it’s for the right reason. Revealing your love of serial killer documentaries for example might see your chances of an interview slashed instantly. Unsure which hobbies and interests to include? Take a look at this article by business insider.

a selection of building blocks arrange to look like a building

James tip: Surveys show that badly presented and poorly written CVs are much more of a turn-off to recruiters than more obvious gaffs, such as showing up late for an interview or even swearing in an interview.

Presentation and layout of your graduate cv

CONGRATULATIONS The hard part is over! You’ve written your graduate cv, now it’s time to bring it all together, starting with making it look good.

Unless you are applying for a creative design-based job lay off the creative layouts and quirky typefaces. Use them and you risk confusing the reader and detracting from your cv’s content. Your cv layout and presentation needs to do two things:

1. Present a professional image

2. Allow the recruiter to read the information quickly and easily

Length 

If you can, aim to keep your graduate cv to one page. If one page is not possible then a two-page cv is perfectly acceptable. Two and a bit however is not, you’ll need to go back and do some cutting.

Typeface 

Stick to Times New Roman and Arial. Yes, unusual and quirky typefaces might add visual interest to your graduate cv, but they will also detract from its readability, not just with the recruiter but automated scanning software. Choose the wrong typeface and your cv may end up in the bin before human eyes have ever seen it!

Font 

When it comes to the body of your cv text stick to a font size of 11 or 12. Save larger fonts for headings. Don’t be tempted to use 10 point or smaller, this will only make your cv harder to read. Use bold to highlight headings, sections and key information, such as your degree title. Italics should only be used when quoting publications, in all other instances bold is your digital highlighter.

Colour 

Keep colour to a minimum. Stick to simple black ink and one accent colour if you want to add some visual interest to your graduate cv. If you opt for colour use it as a highlighting tool for titles and sections, nothing else.

Sectioning and layout 

Getting your cv layout right can be a bit tricky. It’s basically like doing a jigsaw puzzle, somehow you’ve got to make all the pieces and all that information fit together, and to further complicate things there are rules you must stick to! Always start with your name and contact details. After this comes your professional profile and objective. But what next? Education, skills or work experience? Which goes first?? The answer is simple, lead with your strongest selling point. If you’re lacking work experience but your grades are excellent open with that. If your grades aren’t great but you’ve impressive intern experience, then work history is your sell. List the remaining two in order of impressiveness, then add your interests at the very end.

PROSPECTS Tip:

National Citizen Service research shows that recruiters spend an average of just 8.8 seconds reviewing each CV. Make a great first impression by ensuring your CV is concise, clear and easy to read. This means using consistent fonts and sizes and ensuring that the layout is clean with a page that looks uncluttered and follows a simple format.

Typos, a no, no! 

65% of CVs and cover letters contain at least one linguistic error.

James Innes

When it comes to screwing up your interview chances, spelling and grammatical errors on your cv are one of the most costly mistakes, but they are also one of the most easily avoided. The key is to check, check and check again! You’ll need a fresh set of eyes, so ask one or two friends and family members to take a look. The more eyes the better!

Even with multiple checks, there will however always be certain words that trip you up. Welcome to homophone hell! Here are some of the most commonly misused pairs of words. If your cv contains any of these double check your spelling. Spellchecker won’t pick them up!

  • Principle/principal
  • Practice/practise
  • Stationery/stationary
  • Complement/Compliment
  • Licence / License

So, there you have it, the ultimate graduate cv template and top tips for bossing any application.

We realise that’s a LOT of information to take in, so to help you out a little here are some real examples of resumes with James’ notes as to where and how the candidates have gone wrong. We’ve also included the same graduate cvs reworked by James so you can see exactly what changes were made and why.


But now it’s over to you! So, take these tools, get out there and find your dream grad job. Happy hunting!

Beyond your graduate CV. Brand You 

So you’ve bossed your graduate cv. And the recruiter has decided you are 100% their type on paper. But are you their type off it? We previously mentioned 90% of recruiters now google a candidate before inviting them to an interview, but did you know 75% of HR departments are now required to search candidates online!

Yes, thanks to social media we now live in a world where companies no longer hire based purely on cvs and cover letters, but the information they find online. Google yourself. Those search results are Brand You – the picture from which hiring managers will form their opinion of you.

Neglect your online image and it will quickly become your biggest liability. If all a recruiter can find is photos of you sinking shots you’re likely to lose the interview, even with the world’s best graduate cv. So, the questions is, how do you stand out online for the right reasons? We’ve got all the answers right HERE

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About the Author /

kate.dunston@vitagroup.com

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