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A student writing a CV for a property graduate job

How to write a CV for a property graduate job

Does your CV make property recruiters want to meet you? Check out our answers to some frequently asked questions about making an outstanding graduate surveyor application in real estate.
Go into detail when writing about your experiences: explain the consequences or results of your actions.

Some larger real estate firms ask you to upload a CV as part of your application form, and you usually need a CV if you are applying to smaller property employers. Your CV should showcase your skills and achievements in order to persuade recruiters that you have the experience and abilities they seek.

How should I structure my graduate property CV?

There are several ‘types’ of CV layout but you don’t have to follow any model rigidly: you can play about with your ordering of different sections and be flexible with headings so that you show yourself in the best light. Check out these graduate CV templates for some ideas.

The only rule for layout is that your CV must be clear to read and consistent. First impressions count for recruiters giving 30-second glances to a stack of graduate CVs, so a confusing or distracting layout that makes your carefully selected information hard to read won’t do your application any favours. Follow these guidelines:

  • Choose a font that’s easy to read, such as Times New Roman, Arial or Verdana.
  • Headings for the same kinds of section should all be the same size and font.
  • Use paragraphs, indents and line breaks consistently.
  • If you use colour it should be discreet rather than garish, and readable if your CV is printed in black and white.

As well as this, always give yourself a capital ‘I’ and check your spelling and grammar!

What do property recruiters need to know from my CV?

Recruiters should be able to easily identify the following:

Your contact details – include a professional-sounding email address; don’t provide a university email unless you are certain you will be able to access it in a year or two’s time.

Your education/academic history – include your degree class; only include modules that are closely related to the job; outline your dissertation or final-year project but only give further details if the project is relevant to the job.

Your work experience and part-time jobs – include all jobs undertaken at university or on a gap year, not just those directly related to property. Summarise your main responsibilities for each, and list the skills you developed that are relevant to the property specialism and firm you’re applying to.

Your extra-curricular activities, achievements and positions of responsibility – anything that indicates you have the skills that property firms want. These could include your proficiency in foreign languages, IT and first aid, as well as contributions to student societies and sports. None of these sections is essential – it depends what experience you have. For example, there’s no need to include a foreign languages section if you don’t speak any, but on the other hand you might have enough examples to fill a fundraising/volunteering section.

On CVs for UK employers, DO NOT include your: age/date of birth, marital status, gender, ethnicity or photograph.

Plus, you don’t need to include a career aim or personal statement at the top of your CV, unless you don’t have an opportunity elsewhere in the application to state your reasons for applying (such as in a covering letter or online form). One property graduate’s personal statement can be very much like another’s: full of broad statements saying nothing unique, such as ‘I possess strong communication skills’. This takes up space better used by describing your experience and achievements that make you an attractive candidate to property recruiters.

How do I promote myself?

Don’t under-sell yourself and your property surveyor potential. Impactful verbs work best: use ‘analysed’, ‘organised’ and ‘implemented’, rather than ‘put’ and ‘did’. When writing about your work experience and extra-curricular activities, go into detail, explain the consequences/results of your actions, and use numbers to quantify achievements where possible. For example, on your internship, if you:

  • Updated a database listing portfolio investment transactions, you could write this up as: ‘Updated a database of [say how many] portfolio investment transactions by phoning agents to obtain information about the sale prices and purchasers to a tight deadline’.
  • Were involved in putting together a series of reports on improving properties’ saleability, you could write this up as: ‘Contributed to a series of reports on improving the saleability of properties [say which type of property, eg mixed-use developments] by [eg checking data]’.
  • Went on site visits organised by your supervisor, you could write this up as: ‘Gained exposure to different types of property and the work of different departments by attending site visits’.

However, don’t inflate your responsibilities. You might think that describing yourself as the ‘project leader for the accounts of 12 high-profile clients’ is impressive, but if you were only doing a few weeks’ work experience, the recruiter might suspect you of exaggerating.

How long should my graduate real estate CV be?

Keep it concise. Your CV should be a maximum of two pages, but make it either one or two full pages. However, some recruiters request a particular CV length, so do check the firm’s application guidelines.

Can I send the same CV to different property firms?

In short: no. You shouldn’t submit an identical CV to each firm you apply to, but you’ll only need to make small tweaks to your ‘master copy’ each time. Ensure that your CV provides evidence of the skills that that particular employer seeks, that are relevant to your chosen specialism.

Use similar language to the job advert to draw attention to the fact that you’re a good match. You’ll find that many property firms want the same skills, but that they refer to them slightly differently: one might require ‘relationship-building skills’ and another, the ‘ability to establish good working relationships’. For the first, you could write that as marketing officer for your university French society you ‘built reciprocal relationships with my university’s Spanish and Italian societies to promote each other’s events’; for the second, you could write that you ‘established reciprocal relationships…’