Part one: how to structure your CV
Two talent team representatives from a top investment firm recently visited our under-graduate students to discuss CV tips and graduate recruitment opportunities in finance.
Tips on preparing successful CVs that will help land those first job interviews; and how to navigate interviews and assessment centres sparked great interest in the audience, so we thought we’d share them! In this two-part series, we bring you expert advice on structuring the perfect CV and how to make the best impression during each interview. Here’s part one on how to make your CV shine.
First, think about yourself
Before even applying for a position, think about what you enjoy and write a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Are you good at communication? Do you need to work on your organisation skills? Brainstorming these questions will hopefully start to stir you in the right direction.
How to structure your CV
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a written summary of your education, work or volunteer experience, skills and interests. It gives you the chance to show employers why you are the best candidate for the role. An ideal CV should be no more than two A4 pages long.
- Opening statement
You should begin with an opening statement introducing yourself to your future employer; telling them what you’re looking for and your interests. Don’t forget to write your personal contact information in a prominent place near the top.
- Education and qualifications
Next, go straight to your education and qualifications. Show recruiters what you’ve achieved, whether that’s your Bachelor’s degree, a higher education qualification or a professional qualification. Outline your academic and personal achievements; did you win a sports award? Or best dissertation? Or did you get voted most social in your year? They all count!
- Work experience
After you’ve discussed your education, go to your work experience. Include everything that might be relevant to the role; your holiday job working as a cashier or volunteering at your local charity might help you prove that you have the right transferable skills.
- Fill the gaps
It’s also important to explain any gaps in your record – did you go travelling for six months after you left university? Add that too. It all adds to your skills and experiences, demonstrating personal skills such as independence and confidence.
- Hobbies and interests
Then you can get to the fun stuff. What are your hobbies and interests? Try to stay away from generic things and think about what makes you stand out.
And finally, don’t forget to include references. Employers will usually ask for two referees to contact, starting from your current or most recent employer. If you have never worked before, use your teacher or tutor as a referee (but ask them first!)
Be honest – do you really speak German?
Make sure your CV is factual. Your CV will get vetted, so it’s essential to tell the truth. If you are studying a language, like German, it’s an asset. Mention that on your CV, but make sure to include the level, so employers understand your capability.
For example, if you apply for a position where they require German proficiency but you fail to mention that you only have a basic level you may have trouble communicating with your team. This may also lead to the employer (justifiably) terminating your contract!
Tailor your CV for the role
Now that you have established the foundation of your CV, you should tailor it to reflect the requirements of each job you apply for (particularly in the opening statement).
Think carefully about the skills and experiences you can bring to the role. Make sure not to over exaggerate as you will get caught on it eventually.
Succeeding at interviews
So, your fantastic CV has landed you an interview. Well done! But how can you prepare yourself for the interview? In our next article we give you tips to help you succeed in interviews and approach them with skill and confidence. Available next week!
About the author
Hema Tank is Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance, a registered charity and leading provider of financial education. It’s a specialist university college providing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in banking and finance; and an awarding body for professional qualifications in the sector.