Relax: Here’s a simple guide to what your CV should look like when you’re just out of university.
Unless you have significant relevant work experience outside of school – such as semester-long internships, for example – then your “Education” section should stay at the top of your CV. As a new graduate, this is still your greatest qualification. Besides, all the companies that have opportunities specifically intended for new graduates will be looking for this info front and center.
Right beneath your university, you may have a line labeled “Relevant Coursework.” Only keep that if the classes you list are, in fact, relevant or send a message to the recruiter. If, for example, you’ve taken classes not directly connected to your degree that relate to your field of choice, this section can be helpful.
The same goes for “Awards.” If the honors you’ve earned mainly serve to illustrate that you did well in school, you don’t really need this section as you can insert your grades right next to the name of your degree. But if you have awards that showcase your leadership abilities or other professionally relevant skills – for example, a distinguished fellowship like the DAAD or being part of the Dean’s list – keep it.
University is a time to explore your interests, so it’s unlikely that all of your internship, work-study, or research experience is relevant to your current post-graduate interests. So, what should that look like on your CV?
The solution: Keep your most relevant experiences at the top of your CV by adding a section called „Relevant Experience“ and another section beneath it called “Additional Experience.” Title the first section based on your field of interest: “Coding Experience”, “Mechanical Engineering Experience”, for example.
Breaking out your most important experiences from everything else allows you to still follow the standard chronological order expected on CVs, while making it easier for recruiters to see what you’ve done that qualifies you for roles you’re interested in.
Extracurricular experiences are a big part of any university experience – not to mention, they often help you develop skills that companies want. So, try branding your extracurriculars in a way that is appealing to recruiters. For example, if you’re going into a field that requires taking initiative with limited supervision, labeling your extracurricular experiences section, “Leadership” is a good way to go. Or, if your position requires more teamwork and community building, consider “Community Involvement.”
In terms of format, it’s a good idea to format your extracurriculars in exactly the same way you’ve organized your work experience: the organization name, your role, the dates you were involved, and bullet points detailing your accomplishments. You want to send the message that you took your work for student organizations just as seriously as your internships – and that they should be considered as such.
4.) Skills and Interests
This section of your CV will likely be on the bottom. Think hard skills for this section – Python, Matlab, Java – not soft skills like communication. You can also consider adding relevant interests. (Though, emphasis on relevant – if you’re applying for a coding job, Python makes sense. Eating out with friends does not.) Wherever possible, your hobbies and interests should reinforce your application and the idea that you’ll be the right fit for the role – even if it’s just through transferable skills: coaching a local football team and demonstrating your motivational skills, for example.
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