Professional advice and tips for students and graduates compiling CVs for jobs.

NCI Students working together at laptop

Creating an Impactful CV

A CV has only one job and that is to get you an interview. It is your own personal advert and it gives the recruiter a clear picture of you and how you match the role they are recruiting for.  It takes about 6-10 seconds for recruiters to decide if they would like to proceed with your CV and call you to interview. Your job is to make sure you end up in the yes pile! 

With this in mind, the Career Development & Employability team have produced Securing a Graduate Role – Your CV, Cover letter and Interview Guide, which provides guidelines on writing your CV as well as presents CV templates focusing on strong presentation and content of a CV


Top Tips


  • Recruiters will spend circa 6 seconds reviewing your CV in the first instance so presentation is key. We recommend black text – Arial, Tahoma, Lucida Sans with size ranging from 9.5 to 10. Avoid using borders, tables, pictures or fancy formatting. Maintain consistency throughout your CV.
  • Bullet points are easier to read than large paragraphs of text. 
  • Keep your CV to 2 pages- it is difficult to scan 2 pages in 6 seconds- they won’t scan 4-5 pages in 6 seconds!
  • There is no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors – ensure your CV has been checked and double checked for accuracy. Consider your CV being the very first task/project reviewed by your potential employer.

Personal Details

  • You will need your email address, telephone number and LinkedIn url. There is no need to give your date of birth, gender or marital status!

Personal Profile

Make your personal profile specific to the role you are applying for. It should summarise what can offer and that you are motivated towards this particular role. It needs to be specific enough that it could only apply to you and not others in your class. Highlight to the employer - Yes, I can do this job - not just any job, but this one. Do not include generic statements about being a hardworking students with great communication skills looking for an opportunity to progress. Refer back to the job advertisement when writing your profile to ensure it is relevant to the role you are applying for and use the key words or phrases associated with the job you are seeking so it can be picked by an applicant tracking system.  In summary then highlight:

o   Who you are and how you match this job

o    What you want

o    What you can offer the employer

You may also wish to include information on extra languages you can speak and your fluency level, the fact that you have a driving licence or any extra certifications you have undertaken that may interest an employer.

Education & Qualifications

  • If it is a graduate level CV give education details as far back as Secondary School.
  • Give the Name and location of your College, years of study and correct course title.
  • Include some college modules and projects that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Highlight your results if they are likely to encourage a recruiter to call you for interview.
  • Highlight any academic awards received e.g. Deans Award


  • Provide dates, your job title and employer name. Include part time work, placements, internships, summer work and voluntary work as far back as leaving certificate.
  • Use bullet points not paragraphs.
  • Start each sentence with an action verb, Don’t give a generic list of duties and responsibilities instead create bullet points that focus on impact & achievement -see for examples. Ask yourself: 
    • What did I improve?
    • What did I achieve?
    • How did I add value?
  • Use facts, figures, statistics and deliverables.

Interests and Achievements

  • Graduate CVs are often very similar so the interests and achievements section can really help you to stand out from the crowd. Don’t just list a number of activities and expect the employer to guess at your level of involvement give specific information that shows your level of commitment and any achievements.
    • Do you play sport – for how long? how many times a week do you train? For what club? what team? what league – any wins?
    • Did you raise money – for what? When? how much? What was your role?
    • Did you volunteer – how often? When? Impact/Value added?
    • Do you coach? How often, what age group – what have you achieved with them.
    • Have you travelled?- Give some information – what countries or cities have you been to in the last 3-4 years??
    • Did you win any awards in the last 3 years? Name them- give details if appropriate
    • Show off any interests which link to your industry


We suggest that you do not provide names and contact details for referees on your CV unless these are specifically asked for at application stage. Instead you can simply mention that Referees are available on request at the end of your CV. It is a good idea to have lined up one academic and one work reference for when you do need them.


  • It is not a good idea to send the same generic CV to every job you apply for. Targeting your CV to the job spec is critical. No two jobs are the same and no two CVs should be identical either. Use the profile section of your CV to list the required skills and experience and provide practical examples to support your statements.
  • Prioritise relevant information. Considering your CV is 2 pages long, you want to ensure that relevant skills, experience and education appear on 1st page of your CV. This approach will help you define the order of sections on a CV.

Final Tips:

Save your CV file as something meaningful so for example “Anna Annaville Final year Business student seeking graduate HR Opportunity” rather than “My CV”, “New CV” etc

CV templates and resources

You can view and download additional resources and CV templates for your personal development. 

Immediate CV Feedback:

We have invested in Career Set a platform that uses AI to assess your CV and gives you immediate feedback to help you improve it. Upload your CV in PDF and Career Set will score your CV and give you targeted suggestions to help you improve it.

 How to use CareerSet

  • Log in to using your NCI student email address.
  • You will receive an authenticator link via email and clicking on this link will log you in for one session.
  • There are 3 offerings all of which require you to upload a pdf version of your CV or cover letter.
    1. Score My CV: AI-powered CV scoring and personalised feedback related to Impact, Presentation and Style.
    2. Target My CV: Actionable feedback on tailoring a CV to a specific job description, based on keywords and skills.
    3. Cover Letter Feedback: Professional cover letter feedback and tailoring advice, including soft skills. 
  • Within 30 seconds you will receive individual feedback on the left hand side of the screen.
  • You can access CareerSet CV checker 24/7 365 days a year from any location and you can re-submit your CV as many times as you like to keep improving your CV score.
  • We recommend that you achieve a score of 70-75 and then show your CV to your Careers Advisor for further in person feedback.
  • One minute video explainer:

CareerSet is only available to current students using their NCIRL email address.

Remember: we can help!

The NCI Careers team provides specialist support in reviewing and providing feedback on your CV. Once you have completed your CV, submitted it to Career Set for review and made re necessary changes then please do book an appointment with your Careers Advisor.  

Video guides

CV tips and advice, NCI Career Office  - 7.39 minutes  Guidewire and AOL describe what they want to see on a technical CV – 1.22 minutes


Tips for effective graduate CVs Hedgeserv, Engineers Ireland, Jameson, Musgrave, CPL, Citi - 2.11 minutes