10 Tips for Creating a Professional CV for Graduates

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

After graduating, you may begin creating a professional CV to help you apply for new roles. If you don't have a lot of work experience, you can adapt your CV to focus on your educational qualifications and skill set. Following proven tips and techniques can help you create an effective graduate CV and receive more job interview invitations. In this article, we share the top ten tips you can use to create a professional graduate CV that gets noticed by prospective employers.

10 tips for creating a CV for graduates

A CV for graduates includes several key elements to create an impactful and compelling job application. Here are some tips to consider when preparing your professional graduate CV:

1. Write a compelling personal statement

One of the first things to include in your graduate CV is a personal statement to introduce yourself and provide basic details about who you are. A personal statement is often the first detail the hiring manager focuses on, so it's essential to include an impactful statement. Instead of using industry jargon, consider listing points about what makes you unique and how you're best suited for the position. Here are three details that you can include in your statement:

  • who you are as a person

  • what you have to offer

  • what are your career aspirations

Customise your personal statement to fit the job you're applying for. You can include specific details about the company or the role so that the hiring manager knows that you've done your background research. Here's an example of a personal statement for a recent graduate:

I am a recent graduate from the University of Hong Kong with a degree in marketing. I am passionate about turning your marketing vision into strategic and achievable goals, and I'm looking to establish myself at a distinguished marketing agency where I can continue to hone my skills.

Related: How to Write Personal Statement for a CV (With Tips and Examples)

2. Give importance to your education section

As you're a recent graduate, you may not have a lot of work experience yet. So, try to focus more on your educational background. Place this section after your personal statement. List your schools in reverse chronological order for a more impactful CV. Here are some details you can include in your academic section:

  • include the names of your educational institutions and their location

  • specify your field of study

  • list the specific courses you studied that are relevant to the job you're applying for

  • include the grades you received

  • include your year of graduation

  • list any specific skills you gained during your studies

  • include any awards or accomplishments you received

  • list any relevant extracurricular activities, accolades and international exchange programs

Here's an example of how to write the education section in your CV:

Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering, University of Hong Kong
Year of graduation: June 2020

  • Recipient of the Dean's list award in 2019 & 2020 for outstanding academic excellence

  • Achieved Distinctions in Manufacturing Technology, Engineering Principles and Practice, Thermodynamics, Fluids Mechanics, Industrial Engineering and Operation Research

  • Student Member, Institution of Engineers, Hong Kong, 2019

Related: How to Write Education on a CV (With Tips and Examples)

3. List any relevant work experience

If you possess some work experience, even if it's not related to the job you're applying for, you can include them in your CV. Keep it brief and mention the job title, duration of the job and list some of your key responsibilities. If possible, try to relate your previous responsibilities and skills to the job you're applying for.

For instance, if you're applying for a sales position, you could talk about your previous work experience in a customer service role and explain how well you can handle customer requests. Here's an example of how to format the work experience section of your CV:

Marketing Intern
The Originals, June 2019 - August 2019
Hong Kong

  • created and managed lists of media contacts

  • supported event organisation

  • researched opportunities across various online media channels

  • produced press and media kits

Related: Common Job Interview Questions and Answers for Freshers and Experienced Professionals

4. Include relevant interests and hobbies

Though it's optional to include hobbies and interests in your CV, it can still be helpful in certain situations. Including hobbies that apply to the job you're applying for can help you showcase your skills and experience. Be strategic and attentive when creating this section. Ensure to include interests that reflect positively on you. Reviewing the job description can help you identify the hobbies and interests most relevant to the position.

Here are some examples of hobbies and personal interests that can add value to your CV:

  • volunteering and community involvement

  • blogging

  • learning languages

  • photography

  • art and dance forms

  • reading

  • making music

  • sports activities

5. Keep it short and simple

It's a good practice to keep the contents of a CV short and straightforward. Instead of elaborating on each of your skills, achievements and awards, you can highlight the critical points. It's ideal to keep the length of your CV to fit on one page, as hiring managers rarely have a lot of time to read through several pages. Keeping it brief can help hold the readers' attention, summarise your most valuable skills and highlight the benefits of hiring you.

6. Add references

Adding some references towards the end of your graduate CV can help you look legitimate to potential employers. For example, you can include a reference from your professor. If you don't want to share their contact details on the CV, you can write a statement like reference available upon request.

Read more: Learn How to Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation

7. Proofread and edit

Ensure to review and proofread your CV multiple times before including it in your job application. Read through each line to avoid any grammatical and typographical errors. Ensure to follow a consistent format and reword lengthy sentences to make your CV more powerful.

You can also consider asking a friend, mentor, career advisor or family member to review your CV to understand how others perceive your writing. Incorporate their suggestions to improve the readability of your CV. Another excellent way to check your CV is to read it aloud. Reading it aloud can give you a better sense of the content and help you identify if it flows together nicely.

8. Tailor your CV for each job you application

Instead of sending a generic CV for every job application, you can consider tweaking the CV every time you apply for a new job to give your application a boost. First, evaluate the job advertisement carefully and identify the relevant keywords. Then, incorporate these keywords naturally into your CV to help your application stand out from others. If you mention any crucial skills required for a particular job at the bottom of your CV, consider moving them up to the top to make them look more prominent.

9. Include professional contact information

Your contact information is an important detail to include in your CV. Write your full name, location, contact number and email address. Ensure to use a professional email address that you use regularly and double-check if the digits of your contact number are correct. This is especially important, as prospective employers are likely to use either of these two contact details to reach out to you.

Read more: CV Examples for Students (With Template)

10. Add links to your online presence

You can consider adding links to your website, blog or professional social networking sites. These links can make your CV more memorable and relatable. For example, links to your professional social networking sites can show your commitment and dedication to networking and improving your skills and knowledge.

CV example for recent graduates

Here's a CV example for a fresh graduate with some work experience:

Ivy Lam
25 Ho Man Tin Road,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
55145453
ivylam@email.com

Personal statement

Recent graduate with a Bachelor's of Business Administration in finance. Experienced in developing and analysing cost models and creating process solutions to improve the accuracy of financial forecasts for clients. Looking to continue development of audit, compliance and risk management in a collaborative environment.

Education

The University of Hong Kong
BBA Finance
May 2021
GPA: 3.9

Awards and recognitions

  • Dean's scholarship of $15,000 per year

  • VP of University Finance Club

Work history

Blue Way Financial Group, June-July 2021

  • Successfully completed a 6-week internship with a private financial consulting firm where I managed client financial records, organised supervised meetings with clients and supported the implementation of internal audit control and financial forecast methods.

  • Contributed to the optimisation of client payroll processes by carrying out research and documentation processes for management review.

Core skills

  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

  • Oracle

  • Quickbooks

  • SAP

Hobbies and interests

  • hiking

  • reading

  • water sports

References

  • Dr Ling Chan, Professor of Business

  • Linda Shi, CEO, Blue Way Financial Group

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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