Many people choose to do a postgraduate qualification for various reasons which can include to enter or progress within a career and furthering knowledge in a specific area. Employers value the additional knowledge and skill set acquired. Statistics on the graduate labour market have shown that salaries are higher for postgraduates in comparison with graduates with an undergraduate degree.
Whether you are just about to start studying again or have recently completed your education, the guidance in this article could help you enhance your CV.
Through your programme of study, you might be involved in several projects or employability activities. Consider creating a website or online portfolio to showcase your achievements and professional development. You can also include your LinkedIn URL. Create and manage a strong online presence. Think about your brand and who your audience is by keeping any websites up to date and visually appealing.
If you are sending out job or speculative applications, you could mention your postgraduate qualification in the profile if you feel it will be relevant to the employer. Consider referencing the title of your programme, the classification you were awarded, or specialist knowledge gained.
Always list your most recent study first. Depending on your subject area, you might want to include some modules or specialisms. If you conducted a research project, you could also include the title or brief summary.
Many postgraduates gain work experience during their studies e.g. an internship, placement, consultancy or voluntary work. Short-term opportunities should be included, and you can highlight transferable skills and key achievements. In addition to applying for advertised positions, you can create your own opportunities. Consider approaching contacts in your network or employers you have an interest in working for after graduation. You can pitch what you have to offer and suggest ways in which you could collaborate. Try to secure an experience that will allow you to develop your skills and put the knowledge from your education into practice.
This is an important section of your CV, especially if you do not have much work experience. You will be able to highlight your ability to see projects through from conception to completion, creative problem-solving, working in diverse teams, and research skills.
Examples can be from on and outside of your programme:
- Research project
- Independent project
- Group project
- Consultancy project
- Employer project
Responsibilities, Interests and Achievements
In addition to your academics and work experience, employers are interested in your co-curricular activities and achievements. Think about what is transferable and what would be of interest to the employer. Have you shown innovation, commitment, an interest in giving back to society? You will need to briefly explain each point to give context and highlight accomplishments.
Examples can include:
- Professional bodies
- Programme representative
- Students’ Union
- Community engagement
This section of your CV needs to be tailored to the specific job. Employers are often looking for soft skills e.g. communication, problem/solving and time management as well as technical e.g. languages, IT and digital skills. Keep up to date with the sought-after skills in your sector. Short courses, workshops as well as a range of experiences during your study will build your evidence and credibility.
These can include conference publications, images, articles in newspapers and magazines. The exact detail will vary depending on whether you have a CV for academia or industry. In general, you could list the authors’ names, the title of publication, date and link to the URL if the publication is online.
Conferences and Training
If you are trying to enter an industry or want to show your commitment to your professional development, attending annual conferences can boost your profile. These might be through a professional body. In addition to your postgraduate qualification, you might take some short courses to gain additional certifications. These can be added to your CV.
- Choose a font that is easy to read
- Be consistent in the presentation of your CV
- If you choose to use colour, make sure you have a print-friendly version
- Write your document in the third or first person, not both
- Think carefully about who you are sending your CV to and tailor it
- Use action words to highlight what you have achieved
- Do not overuse bullet points or bold text
- Always keep your CV up to date
- Ask a careers consultant or mentor to look at your CV before you start applying for opportunities
Use your CV as a marketing tool to demonstrate to employers why your postgraduate experience makes you stand out as a candidate.