Graduating in the years during or just after a recession can be tough. The job market is very competitive and the recent graduate is competing against people with several years of relevant experience and glowing recommendations from bosses who did not want to lose them.

Although recent graduates may not have a lot of relevant work experience, but they do have experiences that can be highlighted so that potential employers will be impressed by their potential to perform on the job. Prepare your student or graduate CV with this in mind.

Letterhead Information

Consider including your ‘letters’ after your name.
For instance,

John Smith, BA

Or on two lines,

John Smith
BA in Business Administration

Include your postal address, email address, and your telephone number(s).

Use a street address, not a post box.

Get an email address especially for your job hunting. It should be professional and it should include your name. For instance,

Be sure that anyone answering your phone, whether land line or mobile, can take a message and that your answering machine or voice mail message is not a joke. It should clearly states that the caller has reached you and that you will return their call. For instance, “Thank you for calling. This is John Smith speaking and although I am unable to take your call at this time, I will call you back as soon as possible. Please leave your name and number after the beep. Thank you.”

Develop a LinkedIn profile and include a link here. Ensure that other online information about you (e.g., your Facebook account) presents you in the best possible light.

Profile Statement

The Profile or Summary of Qualifications section should be short and to the point. Let the potential employer know that you have the potential and/or the qualifications required to do the job. If you want the reader of your CV to know that you are enthusiastic, self-motivated, and a team player, prove it by giving examples. Here, and throughout your CV, back up your claims with facts.

Recruiters have to sift through hundreds of CVs, so it’s important yours is succinct and gets to the point. Make sure you write in plain English and don’t simply list a load of buzz words – recruiters read them all the time and get bored. Because you’re unlikely to have much of an employment history, it’s important to highlight your academic achievements, skills learned through your course along with anything relevant that you may have picked up in any employment.


Document your educational qualifications in chronological order, starting with your most recent degree. Highlight the name of the degree and include the name of the institution(s) where you studied, the years during which you studied (don’t include months), relevant modules that you studied, and achievements (for instance, leadership positions and awards). If relevant, positive, or a job criteria, include your grades.


Even if your only experience consists of part time or temporary stints as an intern, volunteer, or burger flipper, you still have workplace experience.

Use only information that shows your potential to perform the target job, such as successfully completing tasks on time as an intern, commendations from a charity’s service users for customer service, praise for your work ethic from a restaurant manager. Don’t include your job description. Yes, you worked the till as a charity shop sales assistant. However, every sales assistant does this. If you trained others on the till or had key holder or banking responsibilities, then consider including these accomplishments and responsibilities in your CV.

If your job title does not reflect what you actually did, then amend the title with an explanation. For instance, if your title was the obscure ‘Associate,’ amend it to be ‘Associate (Sales Assistant).’

If you have many short-term positions, summarise them, but be sure to indicate the time period covered and the total number of years or months of experience. For instance,

Big Name Supermarket
Associate (Sales Assistant)
– Rehired every summer and accumulated two years of experience in sales and customer service.


This section is rarely used once you have gained some experience that proves your ability to work with others, your work ethic, and perhaps your leadership abilities. If you have demonstrated these qualities while pursuing your interests, then add a line or two about this.


There is no need to add ‘References are available upon request’ because you are obliged to submit references when you are offered the job. After you are finished writing your CV, contact people who can speak about your ability to do the job. Ask them if they would like to do this and then give them a copy of your CV and information about your target job.

Remember that your CV will be used as the basis for interview questions, so if you don’t want to discuss something in great detail, think about whether or not you need to include it.

Now, proofread the CV twice and check that all the information is truthful.

Your competition could have more experience, but employers are also looking for potential. If you submit a well-written and thought-out document, employers will be impressed and it could get you into the interview room!