Graduate CV: The Ultimate Guide (2020)

Are you feeling ready to take your job search to the next level? To help you craft the perfect CV ready for your graduate job search, we collaborated with Daniel Catalan, expert CV and cover letter builder.

 

Follow the exclusive CV guidance below to secure the graduate job of your dreams!

 

Your CV must be a precise and dynamic document that captures the attention of your reader (i.e. your dream employer). Recruiters and hiring managers will only devote 6 seconds to glancing over a CV and deciding whether to read further or to discard it to the bin. For this reason, it is paramount to ensure that your CV is impactful within that brief window. This is achieved by the template having an easily readable structure and format that highlights the value that you would add, and what you hope to achieve in the next stage of your career, with wording tailored to the job description and industry of the role. 

Creating or updating a CV does not need to be a daunting task or cause sleepless nights. When tackling this challenge, there are several boxes that need to be ticked in order to paint a clear picture of who you are.

 

What to include?

 

graduate cv guide

 

1. Contact Info:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • LinkedIn account hyperlink OR website hyperlink
  • Location/address.

 

2. Picture:

I advise my clients to hire a photographer for an afternoon to take a reel that includes simple headshots as well as action shots of speaking while making emphatic hand gestures. Wear a form-fitting suit or blazer and look sharp for this. Many of my clients have made the mistake of using their passport photos, which look comparable to jailhouse mugshots. You want to make a dignified first impression with this photo. 


TIP: Keep in mind to remove the picture from your document if you apply for jobs in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Israel, Australia, and a few other countries where employers will immediately reject applications that contain photos in compliance with anti-discrimination laws.

 

3. Summary:

Headline & Bio.

Example: 

Bilingual IT Professional

A recent liberal arts graduate who is bilingual in French and English. Seeking a professional challenge that is impactful working with languages and technology.” 

 

4. Experience:

The jobs and internships you’ve had thus far in your career. Use strong action verbs to start each bullet and avoid repetition. List your responsibilities and accomplishments in each role. Seize any opportunity to include statistics of ways your achievements can be quantified For example:  

TIP: Avoid weak action verbs such as supported or assisted, as they can inadvertently typecast you as an assistant worthy only of support roles. Using stronger action verbs like spearheaded, liaised,  collaborated, directed, oversaw, and managed. These words showcase leadership skills and can allow a candidate to be considered for esteemed roles.

 

5. Education:

Self-explanatory. Recent grads can add a line or two about where they studied abroad,  their student society involvement, and association memberships, their extracurricular activities or the title of their thesis, but this information is rendered obsolete after a year or two in the workforce unless they’re pursuing jobs in academia. 

 

6. Skills: 

Divide this into three subsections: Languages, Interpersonal, and Technical. 

Use the “|” symbol to divide each item on the list.

 

Example: 

Languages: English (Native) | French (Fluent) 

Technical: Python | Java | HTML CSS | WordPress | Microsoft Outlook | Hardware Issue Diagnosis & Repair | Software Troubleshooting | Audiovisual Setup | IP Phones | Wifi Setup | Printer Setup 

Interpersonal: Impeccable Customer Service | Conflict Resolution | Adaptable to Changing Circumstances | Global Entrepreneurial Mindset

TIP: Use LinkedIn to gauge the skills that are expected from candidates for positions in your industry and source the wording for your skills section from there. Job listings on Linkedin will often assign 10 desirable skills for a role and tell you how closely you match their criteria.

 

In some countries like Switzerland, you’ll be expected to include your date of birth, the type of work permit you have, and marital status.  You can mention here if you have a driver’s license or industry-specific certifications.

 

How long should your CV be?

 

1.5-2 pages with most of the important information being on the first page under the experience section. Many European students have multiple higher education degrees that can be easily overlooked at the end of the document.

 

The formatting of your graduate CV:

 

Try to use a sleek template that stands out from the common word document. Personally, I use the templates from Resumonk.com. I’m also a fan of Canva.

Check out this article in The Content Mix for more information on 5 Mistakes to Avoid Making When Building your CV!

 

Conclusion: 

 

I look forward to mentoring members of the Europe Language Jobs community so they can gain a competitive advantage in the post-COVID19 career landscape. If you’d like to work together on remodelling your CV, get in touch via www.danielcatalan.com

 

About Daniel:

 

Daniel Catalan (LinkedIn) is a writer from Sleepy Hollow, New York who showcases the achievements of global professionals & remote workers by interviewing them and building their CVs/Resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn accounts to best reflect their profiles and grant them a competitive advantage in their search their next professional challenges. As a long-term remote worker who has lived abroad in Paris, France, and Madrid, Spain, he holds an in-depth understanding of the aspirations of people from all walks of life and across industries.

 

If you’d like to collaborate with Daniel, he can be contacted at www.danielcatalan.com

 

We hope Daniel's key advice has helped you to understand what your CV should include and how it should look. Now you should feel ready to get started in your graduate job search. Remember to research keywords related to your industry to ensure that your CV is seen by your dream employers. Remember, although the structure remains more or less the same, different rules apply to different countries, so be sure to check out these country-specific guidelines. Stay tuned for tomorrows advice, we will be helping to write the perfect cover letter for your job applications!

 


Thank you, I found it very useful and have a couple of questions. I haven't seen the summary part in many CVs so i wasn't sure if it's really necessary or more suitable for the cover letters? Secondly about would it still be wrong to use weak action words like assisted if we are indeed applying for support roles and have had real assistant experience? Lastly about the education section, i have around 2 years work experience after my Bachelor's and im currently pursuing a Master's so should I include education related memberships and activities?

posted 2 weeks ago by Eda


Thank you, I found it very useful and have a couple of questions.

posted 2 weeks ago by Eda


I have worked in more than one company at the same time (freelance), so, is it important to describe those jobs that happened at the same time?

posted 2 weeks ago by Andrés

You control the narrative of your timeline! On freelancer CVs, I advise my clients to first describe the nature of the services that they offer, and then name drop important clients or projects when appropriate. If you held two jobs at the same time, it won't confuse anyone to put the dates section of each with accuracy.

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel


Hello and thanks a ton for this great article. I am actually exceeding 2 pages (4-5 pages) any inputs on this?

posted 2 weeks ago by Sinda Sabrine

It is ill-advised to have a CV that goes on that long. I would advise you to reevaluate which information is essential and attempt to condense it to 2 pages. Keep in mind, a potential employer will make a decision about if they will consider you for a role in under 30-seconds of glancing at your CV. Any further information beyond that, they will learn about you at a later stage of your candidacy by asking you directly or studying your LinkedIn. The CV needs to be a concise document that inspires its reader to want to learn more about you.

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel


Hello! I would like to ask about the design of CVs. There are multiple templates and tools online and I was wondering if I have to pay a lot of attention on the design of my CV and if yes, what should I avoid? Should I stick to more simple options or also more "outstanding" CV designs??

posted 2 weeks ago by Stefani


Hi Dan - should I add a photograph if I'm in looking for work in Spain?

posted 2 weeks ago by Francesca

Yes! I recommend having a reel professional photos taken an actual camera! (Not a phone camera) Wear your nicest clothes and present yourself as serious, but approachable! A new trend I've observed are action pictures, where a person stands with their mouth open as if they are speaking publicly or giving a speech, while gesturing emphatically their hands.

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel


Hello Daniel! Thank you so much for this great guide. I was reading an article the other day about the importance of showing your personality in your CV as a way companies can have an idea if you fit in their team. What do you think about this? and what do you think would be the better way to included it? Thanks again

posted 2 weeks ago by Rebeca

I prefer to include information that showcases personality for the cover letter component of job applications.

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel


Hey Daniel, thank you for your advice. Do you think I should mention my summer business school experience in Education?

posted 2 weeks ago by Irene

Yes, at an earlier stage in your career these types of details belong on your CV! You want to present yourself as a "lifelong learner" who is always pursuing new skills on your own time to always have the most current knowledge in your area of expertise.

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel


Thanks Daniel, lately I've been reading about the Curriculum and Cover letter. I will keep on mind the advice that you gave us :)

posted 2 weeks ago by Betsy

Brilliant! If you want me to give you hands-on and individualized help with these tasks, I would love to have you as my next client! I am offering a special reduced rate to the attendees of this event. Write to me at www.danielcatalan.com

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel


Thank you very much Daniel, I have been struggling a bit feelign insecure about the formatting and the wording of my CV but I have dome some changes that I really look forward to seeing results from.

posted 2 weeks ago by Renzo

Hi Renzo! I am glad this article was an asset to you! If you would like to be one of my next clients, I am offering a special reduced rate to the participants of this event. Reach out to me via www.danielcatalan.com and I will empower you to thrive in your job search.

posted 2 weeks ago by Daniel