Application spring clean: Things you (probably) don’t need on your graduate CV

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints

A common concern among final year students and graduates is that they have too much on their CVs. It’s great to know you have gained all that knowledge and experience, but with industry CVs capped at two pages, it’s not always possible to include everything.

So what should you cut, and what should you keep? Here are some of the main culprits that waste precious space on a graduate CV.

Should I keep my GCSEs?

Some employers may request certain GCSE grades, but many will be more focused on your degree. Unless you’ve been told otherwise, avoid listing all your GCSEs on your CV. Instead, try to give a range of grades:

10 GCSEs grades 9-6

If they place emphasis on a particular subject, you could do this:

10 GCSEs grades 9-6 including 9 in Maths

And if you got the same grade in every subject:

10 grade 9 GCSEs including Maths

If you have a mix of letter and number grades, it’s best not to try and convert these. Employers may ask to see your transcript and be confused or even suspicious if your grades don’t match. Instead, try to explain your GCSE grades as concisely as possible:

10 GCSEs grades 9-6/A*-B, including 9 in Maths

You might be asked to list all your GCSE subjects on an application form, but on a CV it really isn’t necessary. The same goes for the international equivalents of high school/secondary education.

What about early work experience?

It depends. If your work experience is more than few years old, it should be less of a priority. But there’s another angle to consider: is it relevant? An old but relevant experience might be worth keeping over a recent but irrelevant one. For example, a statistics course from two years ago is worth keeping on your CV if you still want to work in statistics. If you’ve changed your mind and want to be a history teacher, I’d suggest removing the course and tailoring your CV to your chosen profession.

As a rule of thumb, anything older than five years might be on its way out. This means the work experience you gained at 16 might not be relevant to you at 21. The Duke of Edinburgh award is a great way of building experience at school, and it was likely a valuable addition to your university applications. But if you’ve been gaining experience since then, you may want to prioritise more recent endeavours – whether that is an internship, volunteering or a part-time job – over older programmes like DofE. Your CV is a dynamic and ever-changing document, so don’t be afraid to cut things out as they age.

A caveat

Everything I’ve mentioned in this blog is a generalisation. Yes, I harp on about it in every appointment, but you need to tailor your applications and follow any instructions given to you. If an employer asks you for GCSEs on your CV, do that! If your older work experience matches the essential criteria, include it! If you’re unsure what to include, pop into the Careers Centre to find out how we can help.

Photo by Alex Gruber on Unsplash

Posted in: Advice, Applications, Tips & Hints


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