We all know the standard tips for creating a successful CV: Make sure you include up-to-date contact details, keep it clear and concise, explain any employment gaps, and the list goes on.
But as a university student or recent graduate, and someone likely new to the professional workforce, what details will really make you stand out amongst your peers when applying for jobs and internships? Read on below to find out how to create a CV that will wow employers and get you one step closer to landing your dream job or internship once you’ve left university, or even whilst you are still studying.
- Grab the employer’s attention. This does not mean to use fancy fonts or colours in your CV (this could actually be very distracting and overwhelming), but rather lead your CV with an unforgettable personal statement. You can think of your personal statement as your CV’s version of your sales pitch. Imagine you have 60 seconds or less to sell yourself to this employer and turn that into one paragraph explaining why you are the ideal candidate for the role you are applying for. Alternatively, treat your CV like a newspaper and your branding statement like a headline. Most employers will first scan your CV for standout information and if they like what they see, they will read through it again in more detail. For this reason, you should make your “headline” noticeable by answering the questions such as, “Why should I care?” or, “What’s in it for me?” for the person reading your CV. If you are finding yourself a bit stuck on where to start, check out this great article full of tips and tricks, or even these examples, for some inspiration.
- Use a professional email address. We all have that one “spam” email address. You know, the one you created when you were 12 and you still use to sign up for all those deals and offers. Be sure to keep this spam email address as just that, and do not use it to apply for jobs. There are two reasons for this: 1. The email address probably does not look professional and will therefore turn employers away from your CV. 2. Any responses to applications for interviews will easily get lost in your inbox. Instead, use an email address that an employer will not do a double take of when they see it. (We said grab their attention but trust us when we say that this is not the way you want to do this! The simpler your email address is, the better. Think: Given name, surname.) Better yet, why not create an email address whose only purpose is for job applications? This will ensure that you never miss an email from an employer, and that you are keeping all relevant communications in one place. We suggest Gmail when creating a new email address, as it is free and very user-friendly.
- Get creative with your work experience. Do you not yet have any professional work experience, and are struggling to make your CV appear attractive to potential employers? In this instance, it is okay to include any work experience that you have, even if that experience is babysitting or working at a pub. Also remember that volunteer work and internships count as work experience, so be sure to include this information in your CV. You can – and should – always pull information relevant to the position that you are applying for from any work experience that you have. If you are wondering how to do this effectively, Oxford University Careers Service does an excellent job of explaining it here.
- List your achievements instead of your responsibilities. Employers do not generally care to see an exhaustive list of all the things you were responsible for in your previous roles. Instead, they want to see how you were successful in said roles. Avoid common phrases such as, “Responsible for,” which can downplay your talents and skill. Instead, use action verbs such as, “implemented,” “presented,” or “motivated,” which will help to provide proof of your knowledge and abilities. Employers will be much more impressed to see what you have accomplished in the past than what you, and every other person in the role before you, were responsible for in your previous roles. If you are looking for ideas on action verbs to use in listing out your achievements, take a look at this great list from Glassdoor.
- Go digital. One of the biggest perks of living in a digital era is that most job applications are now submitted online. So, why not use this to your advantage? If you are applying for a job online, include links to your work, such as your portfolio, website, blog, and any relevant social media links, such as LinkedIn. (But remember: Any social media profiles that you share should be professional, and that any personal accounts should be set to private. Believe it or not, most employers do a Google of their candidates before proceeding with any interview or job offers. You do not want to sell yourself short on a role that you really want over something trivial on a personal social media account!) If you are worried that you do not yet have any professional work built up, not to fret— Just as we mentioned in point number three, get creative. You can do this by including samples of any coursework or projects you have received high markings on. For more tips on building a digital CV, check out this article by Michael Page.
There you have it: Five ways to make your CV bespoke and to help it stand out amongst all your competitors when applying for that job or internship that you are so keen to land. Try implementing the above five steps into what you currently have, and not only will you have a transformed CV that you are proud to submit to employers, but you will also be sure to move it to the top of the applicants pile!