Graduate CV


Graduate CVA CV is an important “marketing document” created to sell your skills, experiences and personal attributes to a potential employer. It is one of the most important documents you will ever produce so therefore you need to make it clear, relevant and personal to you. At the same time your CV needs to scream out at the employer that you are the right person for the job. As with face to face interviews you never get a second chance to make a first impression so you must work on your CV tirelessly until you are satisfied with the end result.

With Graduate CV’s the focus is usually on your educational achievements rather than work history. It’s likely that most graduates won’t have a lengthy work history so the focus is usually on your education, achievements, key skills and related work experience. As with any CV it is important that you keep the CV as simple and to the point as you can, but don’t leave out relevant information which if left out can potentially hinder your chances of being successful. Here are a few key points to consider before you put pen to paper;

  • Your qualifications are important but don’t go over the top by including all the subjects you studied at GCSE/A level and the grades you achieved. Include only those that you passed and that are relevant.
  • Focus on positive areas of your experience and education to date. Include any related work placements or voluntary work that you did during school/college or university. Include any extra-curricular activities that showcase your skills or achievements that are relevant to the advertised position.
  • The main focus of your CV will be the education section so start by highlighting your university qualifications followed by the qualifications you gained at college and then school.
  • Use Action words and Power phrases to illustrate your qualifications, key skills and achievements. Avoid using Buzzwords when creating your personal profile.
  • Research the company before you send your CV. Go on the company website (if they have one) and find out about the companies vision and ethos. Ask yourself the following questions; is the company’s vision and ethos similar to that of yours and do you have the personal attributes that the role requires?

The main areas that you should include in your CV are included below; if you’re still unsure about what you should include on your graduate CV, click on link below;

Structure of a CV

Personal Details:

Personal details (name, address, telephone number, email address) For example:

Joe Bloggs
20, Tenby Road, Birmingham, West Midlands, B6 XXX.
Tel: 0121 – 000 1111                 email:

Personal Profile:

It’s entirely up to you whether you want to include a profile statement. If you have any doubt about what to include, leave it out. If you decide to include a profile it should be short and succinct and provide the employer with a summary of your experience, your skills and personal attributes. Remember, the employer should be able to see a clear link between the skills you have to offer and the requirements of the job. For example:

“An ambitious and hardworking recent graduate with excellent IT skills. Successful completion of my dissertation and work placements has allowed me to gain valuable research and practical skills and the ability to communicate with members of the public. My academic achievements thus so far are a testament to my commitment, hard work and ability. I also see myself as an enthusiastic and reliable team player who can handle multiple tasks competently, working well under pressure”


As a graduate, this is going to be one of the most important sections of your CV. Include what’s relevant to the role that you are applying for. Don’t list every single subject that you have studied. Start with your most recent education first–degree or post graduate qualification. The emphasis here should be more about what you did at university rather than at school.

Include dates, names of universities/colleges/schools attended, course/subjects studied. For example:

BSc (Hons) Psychology, 2:1, University of Barnwell, 1997-2000A Levels:  English (B), Sociology (A), Psychology (A) Barnwell Technology College, 1995-1997GCSEs:   Maths (B), English (A), Science (A), Geography (A), GCSE PE (A*), Hampton Secondary School 1990-1995

Only include grades/results that are relevant. It’s also a good idea to include brief information about any projects, group work, assignments, presentations or anything you did during a gap year. Employers are particularly interested if you can provide evidence of any skills that you demonstrated whilst you undertook various activities during your academic life.

Work History & Experience:

As I’ve mentioned previously, employers don’t expect graduates to have a lengthy employment history but they still expect you to have some experience of working even if it was a part time, voluntary or a summer job. You might not see the point of including these short work experiences but employers definitely will so make sure you include them on your CV. For example, working whilst doing your degree shows a potential employer that you are motivated and independent. The most common way to present your work history is as follows:

  • Your position, company name, dates of employment (include full dates e.g. January 2011 – September 2012).
  • An explanation of your main duties and responsibilities including the skills that you used and developed in that position. Make sure, that you give examples of the duties that you performed that are most applicable to the role that you are applying for.
  • Include any achievements/accomplishments that correspond to the role that you are applying for. For example:
  1. Worked in a small team of 5 at a local mini market taking on a variety of roles.
  2. Built team spirit as a supervisor by ensuring that staff were supported to meet testing team sales targets.
  3. Overseeing the recruitment of new sales and retail staff.
  4. Responsible for training and induction programmes for new staff members.
  5. Implemented changes that increased customer retention by 19 %.
  6. Helped push the business forward to achieve significant turnover and profitability in 6 different mini markets.


As a student your time for leisure activities might be limited because of your study and other commitments such as part time jobs or family responsibilities. Don’t stress about it too much if you don’t have any past times. However, if you do mention any leisure pursuits that you have time for, make sure it’s positive and interesting. You could perhaps say something along the lines of, “Despite the demands of my part time job I was still able to successfully complete my final year dissertation on intergroup bias and discrimination”

The reason it’s important to include a few past times is because it gives the employers a little more insight in to your skills and personality. One thing to remember here is to avoid writing a simple list. A simple list does not tell the employer anything and often gives the impression that you couldn’t be bothered. For example:

Hobbies & Interests

  • Football
  • Gym
  • Basket Weaving

If you worked for a local charity or had a part time job at your local supermarket, highlight your level of involvement and what you gained from the experience. Highlight any skills you developed, or any achievements you gained from undertaking these activities. For example:

Voluntary Work Experience
Elderly (2002)

  • Through the local Community Centre I arranged regular visits to residents in sheltered housing. Helped with household tasks, shopping and provided companionship.
  • Upon completion of my work experience I was presented with a special recognition award by the community centre manager. 

Additional Information:

This section is optional so only include this section if it’s absolutely necessary otherwise leave it out. The main reason you would perhaps include this section is because it allows you to provide other important information which you haven’t been able to emphasize anywhere else on the CV. Only include information in this section which you feel will make a difference in your application i.e. IT skills, Driving license or language skills.


Many CV’s don’t include referees’ details, simply stating  “References available on request”. It’s unlikely anyone will want to take up your references before a job offer has been made. However, sometimes employers like to see that you have included the details of two referees’ even if they don’t contact them. If that’s the case and you decide to include two referees’ then make sure one referee is work related (manager, supervisor, team leader) and the other academic (lecturer, tutor, teacher). For example:

Mr. P Jones, Store Manager, Jacobs Hardware Store, Birmingham, B4 XXX, Tel: 0121 000 0000

It is helpful to both you and the referees if you give them a copy of your CV and some indication of the type of work you are applying for.