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Graduate CV Tips For Retail Roles

9th November 2023

Graduate CV Tips For Retail Roles

Whether it’s a graduate retail analyst job or a role in retail management, what are the key things to remember in getting the graduate CV right? Here’s the ZD Guide.

How to make your CV stand out as a graduate

Uni is done. Or, just maybe, you’re juggling your dissertation while applying for the jobs that will come after it. It’s at this point you might be starting to get a little nervous about putting your CV together for those graduate retail jobs because, after a life in education, you might feel that you don’t have a great deal that will wow a recruiter or hiring manager.

In our experience, you probably have much more to say than you might first think. It all comes down to how you say it.

5 main things your CV should include?

In truth, there’s no real difference in terms of the structure of a graduate CV compared with anyone else’s. Yes, your education section will be a bit longer and the ‘previous experience’ a bit shorter, but the format remains (almost) the same.

The five main things every CV should include are:

  1. Personal details 

    Only the essentials are necessary (name, email, phone number and postal address). If you’ve already got a LinkedIn profile add that too.
    You should not need to state your age, date of birth, gender, or relationship status.

  2. Personal statement 

    Often the most challenging part of the CV, because it’s the one with the least structure and greatest freedom. So think of your personal statement like this:
    In part, it’s the greatest hits album of your career to date. It’s a chance to draw out the really big headlines that set you apart. There’s no need to go to great length about them though because you’ll do that more in the education and experience sections below. 

    “I’m a recent fashion buying and merchandising graduate (2:1) who’s spent the last three years balancing study with getting a real understanding of the reality of retail, by working part time as a…”

    The other ‘side’ to your personal statement is the stuff that makes you you. It’s about personal values and the things that will make you a great fit for the graduate retail job you’re applying for. This isn’t about telling a hiring manager about your values (“I am conscientious, work at pace and focus on delivering good customer service…”); it’s about showing them (“I love the bustle of the store and see it as a personal challenge to never let the stress of the day show through in the way I help customers”).

    And it’s about doing all of that in just a short paragraph or two.

  3. Education 

    Most CVs place experience front and centre and the education section is relegated a little further down the running order, but that’s because, as your experience grows and your time in education recedes into the distance, their relative importance changes.If you feel your experience will do a better job of making the case for that graduate analyst job or your role in retail management, lead with that too, but for most graduates, the qualification will be the BIG achievement to date, so lead with that.

    Start with your most recent qualification, list your A-levels and grades, then do a quick summary of your GCSEs (e.g. 9 GCSE passes: 2A*s, 4As (including English and maths), 3Bs).

  4. Experience 

    If you’re applying for jobs in retail management, the obvious experience to note here will be your time already spent in retail. If management has been part of the plan for a while, you may already have completed some training, shadowed your manager or even taken on a specific leadership role in your time in work. Be sure to share it now.
    It’s important, though, not to overlook other experience.If you’ve done voluntary work, helped organise a charitable event, or if you’ve been part of a university committee, the skills you applied may be exactly the sort of things a recruiter would want to see.

  5. The Additionals 

    Briefly, reference any awards, memberships or hobbies – especially if they’re noteworthy. Everyone writes ‘I love listening to music’ – which is a waste of space because it doesn’t distinguish you in any way.Only talk about the things that will raise a recruiter’s eyebrows.

    Finally, add a short ‘References’ section at the end. You don’t have to name your references at this point unless an application specifically asks for it. Simply write: ‘References available on request’

Graduate CV in Retail

What else do you put on your cv if you want to work in retail?

That’s the basic structure and content of your CV covered, but if you want to give your application for that graduate retail job the best chance of success, be sure to do the following too:

Tailor your CV to the application

If you’re applying for lots of graduate retail jobs, you’ll know how time consuming it can be. There’s always a temptation to copy and paste, firing out the same CV to lots of jobs. Don’t do this.

It’s always better to make stronger applications for fewer jobs than weaker applications for lots of them.

The strongest CVs are ones where the applicant has clearly taken time to understand the skills and experiences the employer wants and has matched their CV to them. While you don’t need to repeat the job description parrot fashion, it’s a good idea to drop some of the keyphrases an employer uses into your CV, so it’s clear that you have taken the time to understand what they’re after.

Because each job description will require something slightly different, you’ll need to tweak and tailor each application. That probably won’t mean a complete rewrite each time, but you might need to shuffle the running order of experiences or tweak the language so you’re fully matching the job description.

Write your CV with the interview in mind

If you want to really take your graduate CV to the next level, don’t simply look at the CV stage of the application process when writing your CV. Keep one eye on the interview.

What you’re looking for are moments within the CV where you can say to yourself, “They won’t be able to avoid asking me about this.”

If you can do that, you’ll not only be creating a stronger CV; you’ll be paving the way for an easier interview too, because you’ll be able to anticipate more of the questions.

Let us find graduate retail jobs for you

Whether it’s graduate jobs in retail management or something more specialist like buying, merchandising, HR, finance or graduate analyst jobs, let us help you take the next step in your career.

Talk to us now.

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