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Graduate CV Tips

Our tips and advice will help you on your way to writing a successful graduate CV by answering some of the most common queries.

1. How long should my CV be?

The length of your CV should not exceed two sides of A4 paper. How much of those two sides you fill depends on what stage you are at in your career.

Most people visiting Studential will have just graduated (or will be in the near future), and will be preparing a CV for their first full-time job. Therefore, you will have less to write than someone who left university 3 or 4 years ago.

Undergraduates and school leavers are likely to find it difficult to fill up two sides of A4 since they may not have very much experience - if this is the case one side of A4 will be ample.

However, applicants who have quite a long career history will have to be selective as to what they include so that it all fits on to two pages, so if this is the case it’s good to make use of margin and paragraph sizes to help fit everything in.

2. Should the education section always be near the top?

If you still are in or have recently completed formal education (e.g. A levels or first degree) your academic achievements will form a major part of your qualifications, and it is recommended you place these close to the top of your CV.

However, if you are applying to an industry where work experience is valued more than formal qualifications, then place the education section further down the page.

3. Is it always necessary to include an objective?

No, it is not vital, although an employer is likely to be impressed if you have an idea of where you want your career to go in the future, especially if it is in line with their plans for development.

4. What if I haven't done enough to fill up my CV?

This doesn’t matter so don’t worry – remember that everyone has to start somewhere. If lack of content is a problem, use sensible formatting and fonts so that you can easily fill one side of A4.

5. Should I put down my hobbies and interests?

It’s not important to include your interests on your CV, although it can give the employer an insight into your personality and make you appear a little more well-rounded.

There’s a chance you will be asked what you do in your spare time during the interview so it’s a good idea to have them ready in mind.

6. Do I have to include references?

It is advisable not to include references as part of your CV.

A small note stating that 'References available on request' will be sufficient.

7. What should be on my CV?

Make sure you include:

  • contact details
  • date of birth and nationality
  • an introduction or profile
  • academic qualifications
  • previous employment history
  • hobbies and interests.

8. What should I not include on my CV?

Don't write anything about:

  • religion
  • references
  • sexuality
  • why you left your previous jobs
  • all your individual GCSE grades
  • lies about skills, experience, qualifications, etc.

Don't include a photo of yourself either, as this isn't necessary.

9. Do I have to include all of my exam results?

No, just the most recent and a summary of your A-Level, GCSE qualifications will be enough, e.g. '10 GCSE passes, grades A-C' will suffice.

10. What order should I put the information in?

Your contact details should always go at the top, followed by:

  • a brief introduction or profile (usually 2-3 sentences maximum)
  • employment history
  • education
  • interests, and hobbies.

11. What text format should I save it in?

If you want to be absolutely certain that the recipient can read your submission then sending a txt attachment is recommended.

However, this format does not allow you to include attractive formatting. Most offices have MS Office applications, and so a Word document will probably be most suitable.

PDF files take up more memory and can take longer to download.

If you want to be sure it can be read, you could paste a txt version of your CV into the main body of your e-mail and attach a Word or PDF version, too.

12. How can I make sure that my CV will actually be read?

Employers do not normally read CVs straight away - they scan them first. Bearing this in mind, you should create your CV so it’s easy to scan:

  • Present information in precise, compact statements. Avoid large, unbroken blocks of text.
  • Set out the information in your CV so that the reader doesn't have to search for your skills, qualifications, etc.
  • Make sure that fonts and styles are used consistently throughout to to help lend visual structure to your document.
  • Leave enough white space so your CV doesn’t look cluttered.
  • Inject a few industry buzzwords if possible and use positive language.
  • Leave out any information that is unnecessary, inappropriate or irrelevant.

13. How far back in my career should I include information about on my CV?

Ten years is a good maximum. If you go back further, you take the risk of including irrelevant information or even worse, dating yourself.

However, there are sometimes situations where experience from more than ten years ago may be favourable to put on your CV.

In this case, it is usually a good idea to reduce the descriptions of your experience as you go further back in time, so your entries for each role are less detailed.

14. Should I have more than one copy of my CV?

It's a good idea to put together a basic CV and then tailor it to the individual company each time you send it off for a job.

This way, you have a template in place to start with and won't have to begin each application from scratch.

Further information

For more tips and advice on writing your graduate CV and looking for a postgraduate job, please see: