Key Elements of a Perfect CV for Graduates


Career Advice / Thursday, April 16th, 2020

A perfect cv for graduates is one that contains all elements that will help an HR Manager take a chance on you, to enable you to kickstart your career. When counselling fresh graduates, I often come across more than one-paged looking CV with no meaningful information that says “hey I am your needle in this haystack”, which is exactly what you should wish to achieve with your CV.

According to a report, 75% of hiring managers have caught a lie on a resume while two in 5 HR managers initially spend less than 1 minute scanning a CV. What this means is that a perfect cv for graduates should be able to stand you out from that pool of applicants, sell your skills, achievements, personality and do it quickly as an HR manager scans through your CV.

Whether you applying for a sales position or not, it is important to realise that as entry-level professionals, we are all sales-people and if you do a good job at selling your skills and abilities, it would be easier to land more interviews HR managers. Let us take a look at the key elements or features of a perfect cv for graduates.

Choose Your Story

We all love stories, they are major drivers of events that are most memorable for us to remember. When getting ready to write your perfect graduate CV, please choose the story you want to tell as well as how best to sell it to employers. 

Start with a story you want to sell that helps market your skills, accomplishment and other abilities as it relates to your professional life.

Choose Your Format

The next thing to choose is your format and this could be chronological, functional or combined CV format? Endeavour to make use of an ATS friendly format; keep it professional, readable and please note that it is also okay to have a one-paged CV as a graduate.

One thing to bear in mind especially if you are in Nigeria is that graduate recruitment is usually driven by high application numbers. For example, in 2019 a top-tier Nigerian Bank Graduate Trainee recruitment had over 20,000 applications with less than 3000 people to be hired. 

Avoid graphically designed CV templates for such nation-wide recruitment because your CV would likely be reviewed by an ATS. 

Employers Language

If the language on your CV does not resonate with the employer or industry you are applying for, you might not get called for interviews. Research and use key industry words to make yourself a more suited candidate for success. 

With the internet at your disposal, claiming naivety would make you seem unserious, unprepared and a half-baked graduate. Capture key skills required that you have and sell yourself along those lines to capture your prospective employer’s interest. As much as you can, be relatable in your language.

Interview Talking Points

You need to create interview talking points when telling your career story, so be as detailed as possible. Use action verbs to create mental pictures for the HR manager reviewing your CV. Ensure that your CV entices and captures their interest by also creating possible interview talking points with your not-so-common skill, hobby or experience that makes you the most interesting candidate.

Final Thoughts On Perfect CV for Graduates

I had mentioned earlier that we are all sales-people and if you do a fairly good job at this by highlighting your skills, internships and other experiences, school accomplishments and grades (if they are excellent), you CV or resume should be able to land you as many interview opportunities as you can. Avoid irrelevant CV mistakes and with the right opportunity, you’ll land that job soon.

Check Out: Good CV: 7 Important Elements With Examples

Check Out: Top 10 CV Errors You Must Avoid

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