Creating a CV and cover letter for graduate HR jobs

Last updated: 30 Nov 2023, 10:47

The first step to landing your dream graduate job in HR is creating a CV that showcases your skills and experience to potential employers. Your CV will be the first thing a recruiter or hiring manger sees, so it is key to making a good first impression and being invited to an interview. This article will guide you on how to layout the essential information in your graduate human resources CV.

Person writing a cv and a cover letter

Your academic history | Your employment history | Writing a cover letter

An easily overlooked, but very important part of your HR CV is your contact details. Employers will need this information in order to reach out to you to schedule interviews. Be sure to include your name, location, phone number and email address in the header of your CV. Here you can also include links to professional social media profiles.

There is no need to include your date of birth, gender, ethnicity or marital status in your CV.

Your academic history

At this stage of your career, your degree will probably be your strongest achievement here. While an HR degree is great to have, roles in this sector are typically also open to graduates from other backgrounds such as psychology.

Write about the key modules you studied in college and the skills you developed through your degree. Include your predicted or actual degree class, information on group projects and your dissertation, and relevant academic awards.

Your degree should be listed first, followed by your Leaving Cert subjects and grades.

Your employment history

In this section you should list the titles of jobs you’ve held along with the companies you’ve worked for and a description of your role, responsibilities and achievements. Focus on any relevant placements or internships but include other part-time and summer jobs you’ve worked.

Go into the key skills you gained during your work experience here. Describe both skills directly related to the job and transferable skills such as time management and communication. These skills are sought after by employers no matter what the job is. Try to include keywords from the job description here. This will help you get through automated CV scanners and ensure that your CV is seen by a human being.

Try to limit the length of your CV to two pages. Be sure to use a professional font and appropriate spacing and margins.

Writing your graduate HR cover letter

While nearly all employers ask for a CV, some will also you to submit a cover letter. A cover letter should not be a reiteration of your CV. Use your cover letter to make the case for why you’re a good candidate for the job and to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

Start your cover letter with a formal greeting. Try to find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager to address the letter to rather than using a generic greeting. If you can’t find a person to address the letter to, you can use ‘hiring manager’.

Your introduction should explain why you’re applying for the job and what drew you to the role.

You should then show why you’re a good candidate for the role. Dedicate a paragraph to highlighting why you’re a good fit and point out how you satisfy the requirements of the role. Pick out the main keywords from the job description to refer to here. Feel free to include examples from your education, work experience, extracurricular activities and personal life to demonstrate your qualities and skills.

A section of your cover letter should focus on what drew you to the employer. Make sure to thoroughly research the employer before you write this section. Visit the employer’s website and take a look at their social media profiles to learn about their work, products, values and achievements. Then write about why particular aspects of the company or the culture appeal to you. For example, you can discuss how you share their values or are excited by the learning opportunities the company offers its accounting graduates.

Before you submit your application, have a friend, family member or member of your college’s career services go through it. They can give you feedback and help you find mistakes you’ve overlooked. Make sure that your CV and cover letter are free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and are easy to understand. Such errors on a job application may come across as careless and unprofessional.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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