How to create a standout CV for your first job in sustainability

Laura Sullivan at CVNow shares her advice on how to ensure your sustainability CV captures the attention of your dream employer.

Laura Sullivan at CVNow shares her advice on how to ensure your sustainability CV captures the attention of your dream employer.

If you’re a recent graduate looking for your first job in sustainability, your CV must highlight your skills to show prospective employers what a great catch you are.

Follow this guide to create that all-important, standout CV for your first sustainability job.

Structure your CV appropriately

Recruiters are extremely busy people, often with multiple roles to fill and thousands of CVs to review. If you structure your CV appropriately, you’ll make their life easier and increase your chances of landing an interview because you’ve highlighted the skills they are looking for.

The following sections are essential components of your CV: name and contact details, personal profile, education and employment history.

As you’re only just leaving education and are unlikely to have a range of work experience, you may like to include a “projects and placements” section instead of “employment history”. Detail impressive projects and placements, in reverse chronological order, that you’ve completed in and out of university and the skills you have developed that are relevant to the workplace.

You may also like to include a hobbies section if you have room or have relevant interests that will add weight to your application.

Make sure each section is labelled with a strong heading and use bullet points when detailing skills and abilities. Also use a clean font, such as Arial or Calibri, so your CV looks savvy and professional.

Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages. If it’s just over, consider adjusting font sizes and margin widths to make the contents fit neatly.

Tailor and tweak your CV throughout

Once your CV is looking the part, you need to ensure the content is relevant to prove to recruiters you’re the best candidate for the role.

To do this, scan the job description and highlight any skills that match your own, making note of industry jargon, too. Then naturally pepper your CV with these keywords to show you’re a match.

Highlight industry experience wherever possible

In the sustainability sector, work experience is often essential for most roles, even if you’re educated to degree standard.

As you’re looking for your first job in sustainability, be sure to mention relevant modules, work and volunteering placements, societies and extracurricular activities that highlight your suitability for the workplace. You may choose to list fieldwork experience such as in recycling, energy or water sustainability, or technical skills, such as data management and statistics.

If you have a wide range of experience and could rattle on for pages, you mustn’t. Instead, use the keywords and required skills you identified in the job description to anchor your points. This will keep your CV focused on what’s relevant – anything additional can be explained in your cover letter or during the interview.

Transferable skills are equally valuable

Soft and personal skills are just as important as hard skills in the sustainability sector. The great news is that, as a graduate, you have developed many of these over the past three years of study and so you should list them in your CV.

Top transferable skills needed in sustainability jobs that your degree will have equipped you with include project management, critical thinking, presenting, communication, resilience, time management and organisation.

Undeniably, you have also developed writing skills during your studies from essays, exams and reports. And since many hiring managers say they have difficulty finding candidates with strong writing abilities, your degree has placed you in a strong position, so be sure to reference this skill, too.

CVNow offers a range of CV-writing services including expertly-written and keyword-optimised CVs, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. It is currently offering a free CV review to help you land your dream sustainability job.