For many students, one of the most difficult things about the transition from full-time education into the working world is the job hunt. How does someone get the attention of an employer? How can he/she stand out amongst the thousands of other fresh grads out there? From the employer’s perspective, many of the same questions apply – how can they be sure the graduate they want to hire is actually a good fit? Why not the next one in line?
One of the most important marketing tools in any fresh graduate’s arsenal is their CV. It is the first thing any employer will ask for, and is also the first way of distinguishing one graduate from another. It’s therefore very important to use the CV as an effective marketing tool in selling your skills and abilities to your dream employer.
One common gripe I hear is that fresh grads find a CV incredibly difficult to write, due to the lack of working experience they have. In actual fact, a fresh grad’s CV is amongst the easiest to develop! If you’re still stuck after reading this, drop me an email. I’ll be happy to take a look at your CV and give you some advice. This is completely free, with no obligations – I remember very well how daunting it is to be fresh into the working world!
Here’s a recent CV sample we did for a finance graduate. I’ll show you the final product first, then we’ll break it down section by section and I’ll walk you through our thought process, insights, and strategy. While the sample is for finance, you can try applying the tips and tricks to your own CV; the logic and reasoning can easily adapted to almost every profile. If you need a hand, feel free to reach out to me at russel (at) resumewriter.sg. I read every email. I also offer free CV consultations, if you need an expert’s eye on the subject 😉
THE CV SAMPLE – FRESH GRADUATE (FINANCE)
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BREAKING IT DOWN
Now, let’s go through each individual section in detail. I’ve listed down our thought processes and reasoning as well – look out for the sections [highlighted like this]
If you want to learn more about what each section is for, and/or want to know what sort of content to include, check out my Ultimate Guide to Resume Writing. In that article, I go into greater detail on each part of the CV, and highlight some tips and tricks I use myself when writing CVs for my clients.
Let’s get into the juicy part!
1. The Header
2. Executive Summary
*Note: In most CVs, I’d put professional experience first. That’s what employers are more interested in. In a fresh graduate’s or student’s CV, I put Education first as it’s likely that the candidate doesn’t have much working experience, and that the employer is likely to be interested in how well this candidate did in school instead. This is optional though – you can choose to put Professional Experience first if you have many internships under your belt, for example.
4. Key Skills
5. Professional Experience
CCAs can be considered ‘experience’ too if they are relevant and related to your target industry. It varies on a case-by-case basis.
6. Miscellaneous Information
And we’re done!
Of course, not everyone will be going into the Finance industry. With that in mind, here are a few things that I’d have looked out for back when I was an active recruiter and headhunter. You can generalise these tips to CVs in almost any industry:
Key Pointers Recruiters Look for in a Fresh Graduate Resume:
- Demonstrable Skills and Experiences: If you have no prior work experience, make sure that you include internship experiences, community service, or any relevant activities where you can demonstrate essential abilities such as leadership and communication skills.
- Relevant Coursework: If you are looking at joining an industry, but have no prior internship/working experience there, consider highlighting any relevant coursework you have done in University to demonstrate your interest and theoretical foundation in the area.
- Your Portfolio: Depending on the industry you have in mind, this may or may not apply to you. Some industries place much more focus on your capabilities rather than your paper qualifications. Programming and creative design are two which immediately come to mind. In CVs for those industries, you could add some previous works and showcase your portfolio.
- Ability to Work with Various Stakeholders: As you cannot showcase yet your experience in working for large business environments, you can at least speak about how you were able to successfully work with different types of people such as professors, coaches, community leaders, other students, as well as local government officers.
- Transferable or Technical Skills: You may not have previous professional experience, but you can always highlight transferable skills you may have utilised while you were in university such as auditing, marketing, writing, data entry, graphic designing, coding, and the like. Look for courses relevant to your industry. In Marketing/Advertising? Photoshop, Illustrator, and Lightroom are good to have. Interested in Finance? Be sure to take Bloomberg’s certifications and look into the CFA Institute’s courses.
This is a really underlooked point that I want to discuss briefly. First impressions matter a lot. I’ve seen employers discard CVs that were poorly formatted without even bothering to glance through the content. A few key points to note:
- Neat and professional templates are key. Don’t use fancy pictures or layouts that are hard to read.
- Proofread your CV! Spelling and grammatical errors are huge no-nos. As an employer, I’d be very reluctant to hire someone who makes simple spelling errors. It says a lot about that candidate’s professionalism and attention to detail. You can use apps like Grammarly, or ask a friend to proofread your CV for you.
- Use a suitable, professional font. Keep the flowery and artistic fonts for an ad; there are fonts which help you stand out without making you look unprofessional.
- Watch the fluff! With less content to work with, there is a natural tendency to ‘inflate’ our responsibilities and achievements a little. While this is acceptable in moderation, it looks really bad if overdone. Know when to stop!
- Keep it short! Most fresh grad CVs can easily fit within a page or two. If you’re going over that, chances are you’re including too many irrelevant points. Employers are busy people – they are unlikely to read all 5 or 6 pages of a long CV!
Additional Fresh Graduate Resume Writing Tips
- If you have the time, reading my Ultimate Guide to Resume Writing is a great way to get started. There’s a lot of detail there about how to craft each section. Drop me a feedback request if you have any questions – I read each one personally.
- The executive summary gives a quick overview of your work history. Thus, use this to communicate your strong work ethic, desire to learn and leadership abilities, if any. If you’ve got domain expertise in the field you’re applying for, do heavily emphasise that.
- Always break your work experiences into 2 parts – your daily workscope and your achievements. For the daily workscope, include a high level summary. Workscopes which are implied can be omitted. Remember, you want to keep your resume short and sharp for the recruiter.
- As a fresh grad, you might be a little lacking in work experience. As such, do include any volunteer or leadership experiences you’ve had, as well as training and seminars you’ve attended. This will help to differentiate your resume from that of your peers. You can also include your CCA or OCSP experiences.
Fresh Graduate Job Opportunities
- It is always fun for fresh graduates to attend job fairs and career expos. Not only will you have a chance to submit your resume to potential employers, you will also get to see what the job market looks like and which companies are hiring. Be sure to bring many copies of your resume when attending job fairs, so you can be ready to apply to many positions available.
- After the event, try looking up the people you met on LinkedIn. Drop them an email to connect, thanking them for their time, and asking any additional questions you may have. Initiative is a highly prized quality! Individual connections are so powerful nowadays. In fact, I’ve helped many clients land nice new roles purely by encouraging them to ask the hiring manager for a chat over coffee. Building up your LinkedIn presence is one of the best things to do in today’s Internet-dominated landscape.
- Sign up to and scour websites like Indeed, JobsDB, or Jobstreet for jobs and opportunities available for fresh graduates. You may also want to check out our complete list of job sites in Singapore to help you get started.
- Networking is important. Major firms often headhunt directly from universities. Be sure to keep an eye out for career fairs or info sessions organised by these firms – they’re usually well publicised by your university’s Career Office. Use these events to develop your knowledge of the field, and decide if it’s something you’d want to do professionally.
Job Hunting Tips from our Resident Headhunter
- Improve your chances of landing a job with good position and decent salary by attending industry-specific courses and applying for certifications. Be sure to speak about these on your resume to further strengthen your profile. Each industry has different certifications and qualifications – be sure to do some basic research on what’s in demand!
- Create a winning cover letter and send it along your resume. The cover letter will serve as an introduction about yourself and is a great venue to answer the question “Why should we hire you?”
- Be active on social media, particularly on LinkedIn. Make sure to create a strong online profile that represents you and you professional experiences. Here’s our comprehensive guides on finding jobs through social media and writing a great LinkedIn profile.
- Landed an interview? Great! Be sure to prepare well in advance. Interviews are a great way to demonstrate that you’re the best candidate for the position you want. Here are some tips and tricks for acing that interview.
- Keep working hard. Get ahead of the competition!
- Before you start sending out applications, get a free CV Feedback Session with me. I’ll personally take a look at your CV and give you some advice. It’s really important to get your CV right – it’s you, in a nutshell.
- Not sure about your career? How about a one-on-one, professional career coaching call from an expert career coach?
I hope you found this fresh graduate resume sample useful. All the best in your job search!
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