CVs and personal statements: a guide

It’s never too early to start preparing for life after graduation. Whether it’s for a job after university or summer work, having a good CV is a necessary requirement to becoming employed. But how can you make sure that your CV can land you that job?

First of all, don’t overcomplicate. Sure, it might sound good in your essay to throw in a bunch of extravagant and complex words to fill the word count and make you sound well-informed but, on your job application, the line between relevance and drivel is very fine, and employers will notice.

Keep it simple (but not too simple) and make sure your possible employer can pick out the relevant skills you are informing them of with ease. A CV or personal statement is rarely more than a page or two in length so remember that every word counts.

The personal statement section of your CV should sum up what you have done in the past, the job you want in the future and the skills that bridge the two. It should be short and concise, with all relevant pointers on why you are an impressive candidate. This is not the place to use irrelevant quotes or pointers. If you have a passion for something, explain why or how. Assuming that your childhood ambition will be enough to secure you a job puts you at a huge disadvantage.

Arrange your past employment history with the most recent first, and explain areas you excelled within this. Employers are looking for relevant and up-to-date experience that make your CV personal to you and make you stand out as a viable employee. Be sure to include any problems you solved, projects you were involved with or areas you went that little bit further, to demonstrate how you will be an asset to their team.

Select your achievements based on the job you are applying for. CVs shouldn’t be generic documents, but rather specific to the position and sector you are applying to. Be aware of what the company or business is looking for in a candidate and make sure these features resonate through your experiences. If you’re looking at a particular business make sure you research them before applying. Many have mission statements with buzz words that will optimize your application.

Graduate jobs are, mostly, looking for a specific role to be filled, and won’t necessarily be interested in the three months cat-sitting you did in 2009. Similarly, short-term part-time jobs may not be bowled over by your 4-week internship at that corporate organisation. Cherry-pick relevant experiences that you can relate to aspects of the work you are hoping to get.

Lastly, make sure you double check through the document before you send it to ensure no embarrassing grammar or punctuation mistakes that will ruin your chances before it’s even been sent. Good luck!

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