Tips for creating a quality graduate CV

12 October 2017

curriculum vitae

Blog written by Chris Morris, Group Manager at Interpret Geospatial Solutions

In my role as Interpret Group Manager, I see alot of Curriculum Vitae’s (CV's) from a wide range of applicants. CV’s play an important role for any application but are particularly important for graduates because many have limited work experience so it can be harder to produce a well-rounded CV.

Here are my top 10 tips for creating a quality graduate CV:

1. Do your research
Before you submit your CV and covering letter, do your research on the company you are applying to. Websites are a great source of information so check their website for the company’s values and mission statement. Think about those values and their mission and consider what you have done that may reflect those values, and try to reflect them in your CV and covering letter.

2. Tailor your CV
You shouldn’t have a CV, rather you should have a document with base content that forms the basis of a tailored CV for each application. Whilst this might sound like a lot of hassle, tailoring your CV makes a huge difference to your application and increases your chances of getting an interview. What does tailoring mean? Simply consider how you present yourself and your skills in a way that is applicable to that job, changing the wording slightly to reflect the employer’s values. If your research identifies certain things about a company e.g. a cool culture, active staff etc, try and reflect something along these lines about yourself in your cover letter. Don’t go overboard though – it needs to be pitched just right.

3. Make the most of what you’ve got
As a graduate you can’t be expected to have an extensive work history.  You may not even have worked in the GIS industry before, so what should you do? Well make the most of what you have. Maybe you have a job at a supermarket or home store or fast food outlet. Think about how could that job illustrate a capability that your prospective employer might be interested in. Perhaps it demonstrates your ability to communicate with customers. Maybe it shows a dedication to quality or professionalism. Whatever your job, you should be able to tailor it to the requirements or values of the employer.

4. Personal profile
Create yourself a personal profile, four or five lines of text that sum you up and quickly tells the employer about you. You might be applying for a job with 30 or 40 other applicants so you want to give the person reading your CV a reason to look at your CV in more detail. Capture their interest and make them want to read on.

5. Layout
Make your CV easy to read and use headings that are easy to understand and find. Employers will be interested in your education and work experience so make these sections obvious. You may also include a section on your personal contact details and skill set or awards. When it comes to work experience, make sure you include a couple of lines which explain what a particular company does.  We all know about supermarkets, but if you have work experience with a smaller company let your employer know what they do as additional context.

6. Branding
The look and feel of your CV is also important. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes and the grammar and punctuation is correct. An employer will judge you poorly if you can’t even get your CV right, it suggests you have poor attention to detail. Keep it simple and easy to read, no fancy fonts and keep font size changes to a minimum. If you can, let it reflect a bit of your personality, or perhaps tailor it to reflect the style of the employer’s website, matching colours and look and feel. Don’t go overboard, just enough for the employer to notice that you have made an effort. Don’t include a photo – what you look like has no relevance to your application and you only run the risk of including an inappropriate photo.

7. Personality
Let an employer judge what kind of person you are. Telling them that you have a good sense of humour or you are honest and reliable without examples of these traits mean very little. They are traits after all that we might all say about ourselves or wish we have. Instead concentrate on how you might display or talk about these attributes in an interview. Equally think about how you describe your hobbies and extracurricular activities. Socialising with friends is not a hobby, reading is a past-time, and whilst playing video games is fun it’s not going to increase your employment prospects so keep those things to yourself. Instead focus on things that the employer will find interesting - maybe you are a member of a group, the Emerging Spatial Professionals or maybe some other voluntary organisation, fill your CV up with those details.

8. Training
You may not have had any GIS experience other than your university modules so have a look at some online training and demonstrate that you are more than simply your Degree. Employees are looking for something that sets you apart from others so demonstrate you are a go-getter. If you are applying for a role with an Esri-based employer then have a go with ArcGIS Online at the very least. We are moving more and more towards a web-based environment so experience in this technology or others like it is important.

9. Education
If you are a graduate, an employer is interested in your degree and NCEA results.  We don’t need to know which primary school you attended so you can leave that off your CV. Indeed, leave anything off your CV that isn’t really that relevant. If you won awards at school or university or were a member of a group or team then include that information as it shows you have a well-rounded personality. If you have undertaken voluntary work then definitely include that on your CV as your employer will be interested in what you have done.

10. Social Media
You supply an employer your CV, but we live in a social media world so don’t be surprised if your employer checks out your social media profile - it could be Facebook but it’s more likely to be LinkedIn. You may therefore like to consider the privacy of your Facebook profile. With LinkedIn, start to build up your profile. Make connections within the industry, but don’t just blitz everyone.  Be a little targeted and don’t just use the standard invite, add a little note saying why you are making contact.