Recent research from the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which represents companies such as Procter & Gamble, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Rolls-Royce UK, has revealed that graduates are being left without jobs because of poor quality applications.
Cut-and-paste CVs, a scattergun approach and lack of research into a particular employer or job role were cited as the main reasons graduates are falling down at application stage. This has left 87% of leading public and private sector organisations with graduate positions unfilled.
With this in mind, Shaun Simmons, director of recruiters Cordant Group, has the following advice for graduates on drafting a compelling CV or application.
Treat your CV as your sales brochure. Your sole purpose at this point is to get to the interview table. Everything else can follow.
Tailor every single CV to the company and job at hand. The basic principles of targeting your CV are as follows:
o Align your skill descriptions to those requested within the job specification
o Use similar terminology, this will strike engagement and trigger a connection
o If you do not possess the exact experience, ensure you demonstrate desire to learn
o Focus on relevancy – if you are tight for space, remove what has not been requested.
Structure your CV into sections. A typical CV might look like this:
o Personal Profile – this part of your CV defines your motivations. In a short paragraph tell the employer why you are the best person for the job, what drives your ambition and why you are the best fit for their organisation.
o Skills – these are often the key words in job applications, which describe the attributes need for the role, such as good time management or ability to work under pressure. If you are new to the job market, think laterally about your personal activities such as temporary work, being member of a sports club or volunteering and how they could be used to demonstrate the skills needed in the role.
o Work History – any work history should be clear and concise, detailing any present job role with objectives and tasks, but using similar terminology to the job advertisement. Achievements added onto the work history as part of each job description are a real positive and show value to the employer. Again, if you don’t have any work history, find other things to talk about such roles you have taken within your study or personal life to show attributes, leadership and so on. Detail the project at hand, how you personally worked to achieve the desired goal, the result and any challenges you overcame on the way.
o Educational background – a summary of your qualifications and achievements, also an opportunity to highlight any particular relevant experience along the way.
Ensure that your CV is immaculate in its presentation, easy to follow and uses simple relevant language. Get a friend to check it and go through basic things like spelling and grammar.
Do not assume that having a good degree result will automatically get you through the door. Employers are looking for people who will fit in with their company culture. The most common attributes that employers look for are:
o The ability to learn new skills and adapt to change
o The capability to work under pressure and communicate effectively
o A reliable, trustworthy team player who can act on their own initiative
o Being able to fit into the company’s culture and maintain a positive attitude.
In short, treat job-hunting like a job itself. If you take the time to consider and target your application, you will give yourself a competitive edge.