What do UK graduate employers want in a Curriculum Vitae?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Here we summarise a research report from Keele University that attempts to answer the question of what UK employers want from a graduate CV.

In no particular order:

  • Your CV is your chance to make a ‘first impression’. Make a good one. Layout, appearance, typographical accuracy in terms of spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting all need to be good. Font needs to be consistent, easily readable and not too small (e.g. Arial or Calibri pt 11 or 12). Use professional language.
  • Using graphics on a CV is most suitable for roles where creativity is required, but such graphics should not be included where a role does not require this.
  • Your CV shouldn’t include a photograph.
  • For a recent graduate a CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. One side is also fine. It’s not the length, but the content that’s key. Whilst applicants with large amounts of experience may require more than two pages to include all relevant information, this was unlikely to apply to students or recent graduates.
  • The purpose of the CV is to give a flavour of your personality, not just a list of qualifications.
  • A personal profile should be included on a graduate CV: 2-3 sentences as an introduction to you and what you are looking for, tailored to the role you are applying for.
  • Content should: be tailored to the role/employer; include work experience demonstrating transferable skills; detail qualifications related to the role; and outline other relevant achievements, e.g. relevant dissertations or projects.
  • Mentioning extra-curricular activities, and hobbies and interests can help you stand out from the crowd. Employers saw these as another way to assess a candidate’s character and personality.
  • Items in each section of the CV should be listed in reverse, chronological order.
  • Writing in the first person was more popular amongst employers than in the third person, although preferences were mixed.
  • Killer criteria’ that are essential for the role must be in the CV. Keywords and phrases relating to the job description need to be in the CV – whether the CV is scanned by human eye or by Applicant Tracking System software – they are key to being shortlisted.
  • Include your location – employers use it to assess mobility of applicants.
  • There was no strong preference to having referees details listed or available on request.
  • Employers view CVs both on screen, and on paper – so make sure the format you use is easy to open on screen and is printer friendly.
  • The average time reading a CV before making a decision was 3-5 minutes, but ranged from less than 30 seconds to 30 minutes.

Want to read the report? Here’s the source: https://luminate.prospects.ac.uk/what-employers-want-in-a-cv