Writing a good CV is vitality important for students at the start of your career. While you write or re-draft yours, here’s my list of 10 things consider.
'How long should my CV be?', is a common question from Bright Network members. It largely depends on how much experience and extra-curricular activity you’ve done. My general rule is a concise one page CV for first and second year students and no more than two pages for third and fourth years. If yours is significantly longer than this, think critically about what’s relevant and make sure each point you make is concise.
2. Personal profile
Is your introduction or personal profile adding anything? If you have a succinct one page CV, think about whether an introduction is actually necessary. The make up of a standard profile - ‘I’m a hard-working, driven second year [Maths] students at [UCL], with relevant experience, looking for experience in Investment Banking’ – is often all covered just below in the education section and in your cover letter/application questions.
Even the best CVs can fall down with messy formatting, so make sure your alignment is all correct and each section is clearly defined. Don’t over use colour – black writing on a white background is easiest to read, so I would stick to that. And ensure you’re using a professional font.
4. Learn the lingo
It isn’t just the sector terminology you should be learning. Carefully read the job descriptions for the roles you’re applying to and look for common skills they require of a candidate. Incorporate these skills into your CV and prove how you have developed them through academia, work experience or your positions of responsibility.
5. Process for checking
Everyone will have lots of opinions about your CV and often there will be contradictions in all the advice you’re given. So, take advice from people in the industry, us and people you trust – once you’ve got to a CV you’re happy with, have confidence and start applying. Do remember to get someone to check through the spellings and grammar as well.
6. Bullet points
A really good way to keep everything concise is bullet points. When you’re explaining how you’ve developed and what you achieved in your various work experiences and extra-curricular activity, it’s good put it in two to four bullet points. Ensure each one has a clear purpose and shows how you stand out from the competition. When it comes to the bullet point itself, the little black dot is adequate – no ticks or squares.
7. Don’t overuse I
A CV should be written in the first person, but that doesn’t mean you need to use ‘I’ all of the time. When you’re using bullet points, you don’t need to start each one with something like ‘I did…’. However, make sure each point is grammatically correct and in a full sentences still.
8. Clear sections
Your CV should be easy to navigate, so if an assessor just wants to look at just your experience, they can find it in one glance – remember most assessors look at a CV for a matter of seconds. They are likely to get frustrated if there isn’t a clear order and structure to yours.
Many people add a URL link to their LinkedIn profile on a CV and a highly recommend you do this. LinkedIn is a great way to go into a bit more detail about what you’ve done, build up recommendations from others and post business related articles which interest you. If you’re not using it regularly, you should be.
Awards are a great way to prove to a company you can excel. Even if it isn’t related to your career, it shows you have achieved at a high level and have a drive for success. Therefore, any awards you’ve won should be on your CV. Even if you’ve won awards or achieved a high level in a hobby, this is perfect for your interests section.
If you have any more questions about your CV, please get in touch with our membership team – firstname.lastname@example.org.