Updated: Sep 14, 2019
In Blog 1/5 in this series on #CVtipsforGraduates I indicated that your CV needs to capture the attention of the reader as quickly as possible, by placing the most important information on the first page. So let's talk about what that important information is.
The "WHAT" part of page 1 of your CV
As a graduate you need to distinguish yourself from a pool of 1000s of other candidates. So what will distinguish you?
Your leadership positions
A personal profile
Your career objectives
You may be surprised to hear this, but I have seen a few CVs recently with information on the university that the person studied at, but no indication of the degree! Be clear on page 1 of your CV, what you have studied, how far you are with any current studies, and if there has been a practical component to your studies, how far you are with that.
Prospective employers want to know what skills you have already developed - technical skills and soft skills. As a recent graduate, no one is expecting you to have mastery over your skills, but they do want to know that you have a theoretical understanding and some basic applied skills. In so many CVs, people tend to focus on a lot of general attributes such as being passionate, enthusiastic, hard working. But these attributes are taken as a given.
Prospect employers want to know what specific skills you have. If you can substantiate these with examples then even better! Can you write code? If yes, to what level and in what programme(s) and do you have an example? Can you develop and maintain a database? Yes? Using what database software? Can you analyse and synthesise large amounts of data into useful information? Are there specific methodologies or processes that you have learned to use?
When I ask graduates about their achievements, many tell me they don't have any. But that's because so many people immediately look to their academic achievements. If you don't have great academic achievements, look wider - what have you achieved in your community, what have you done against all odds, what have you achieved in your hobbies.
You may have done some fundraising - talk about it.
You may have played for your school hockey team - talk about it.
You may have taught yourself how to code - talk about it.
You may have survived an accident and learned how to walk again - talk about it.
You may have taken over the role of head of your household - talk about it.
Everyone has achievements when you dig deep - some achievements may not feel obvious to you especially if they are not academic achievements, but taking the time to look beyond your studies may help reveal other types of achievements.
Your leadership positions and experience in taking responsibility, could easily be linked to your achievements and could also come from areas that are not academic. Look into all the spheres of your life to identify where you have stepped up and had an influence on others. Have you volunteered? Have you taken care of someone? Have you been a member of a committee, have you served in a position at your church or a community group?
And if you can't think of anything, then ask your friends and family to tell you where they think you have distinguished yourself and shown leadership.
What will not distinguish you?
What will NOT distinguish you is using page 1 to list every single piece of personal information you can think of.
Someone a long time ago came up with a template that encouraged you to include information on your drivers licence, criminal record, marital status, number of dependents, postal address and numerous other data.
But this is a very outdated approach, and aside from taking up an entire page of your CV, it provides information that is irrelevant to your employment application.
What about my personal profile and career objectives? And how do I get all this information on to page 1?
Don't worry we will get there. We are going to cover the rest of page 1 in blog 3 in this series.
In Blog 4 I will cover other elements of your CV and some more do's and do not's.
And in the final blog, I will give you some thoughts on using LinkedIn and other digital platforms to complement and support your CV.
Enjoyed this blog? Read the full series of CV tips:
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