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How to tailor your graduate CV to Shell

The Shell application form consists largely of yes/no answers and options in dropdown menus, rather than opportunities to give detail about your skills and experience. For this reason, your CV must work extra hard to showcase your unique achievements.

Preparing your graduate CV for Shell

The company provides some general advice on CV preparation on its careers website so be sure to follow the guidance. Shell favours a traditional CV format with education and experience neatly listed in reverse chronological order.

Here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Don't try to include your life story; CVs should be clear and concise, with no waffle. While it's important to cover your full work history, for less relevant experience, you may want to pick out only a few key pieces of information rather than giving an in-depth account of each role.
  • Highlight your most relevant experiences and provide details about your role and accomplishments. Your CV is a chance to sell yourself so make sure to highlight your personal contribution (write I, not we) and anything you achieved that you were proud of.
  • For your education history, Shell suggests that you include information on any relevant modules, projects or dissertations. This will help demonstrate your interest in and knowledge of your chosen scheme. Give an overview of what you did and what you learned. It's not necessary to list every module you studied at university. Instead, pick the modules you think are most relevant to Shell and the scheme you've applied for.
  • Focus on the skills your degree and work experience helped you develop. So, for example, giving a presentation to your seminar group might have improved your communication skills, while working on a group essay might have developed your ability to work with others.
  • Shell highly recommends that you include your achievements and outside interests in your CV. This helps show you're well rounded and injects personality into your CV. Avoid generic interest such as listening to music or socialising with friends – and definitely don't make things up. You need to be prepared to discuss your CV further at interview.
  • Good written communication is something that Shell is looking for in its recruits so make sure your CV is well written, easy to understand and proofread thoroughly.

Match your CV to Shell's 'CAR' criteria

It's important to tailor your CV to Shell. The best way to do this is to provide details of how you meet Shell's 'CAR' criteria (capacity, achievement and relationships). This can be laid out as bullet points within the sections of your CV; for example, as skills you've used in a particular job or hobby. Be specific and use quantitative details such as sales figures where possible to help illustrate your examples.

To demonstrate your capacity in your CV, you could include examples of times when you've:

  • learned something new
  • adapted to a new environment quickly
  • made an important or difficult decision
  • identified a solution to a problem
  • discovered a more efficient method of working

To highlight your achievement in your CV, you need to emphasise your drive, self-confidence, organisational skills and resilience. You could include examples of times when you've:

  • worked towards an ambitious goal
  • been driven to deliver results
  • gone the extra mile
  • persevered despite obstacles
  • picked yourself up after a setback

To match with Shell's relationships criteria, you could include examples of times when you've:

  • worked well in a team
  • developed positive relationships with customers, work colleagues or university peers
  • needed to communicate with a range of people, whether it was through written correspondence, over the phone or in person.
  • adapted your style to suit your audience eg explaining a technical topic to somebody who isn't familiar with it
  • dealt with a difficult customer and successfully appeased them

Think about other skills that Shell might value

Shell is looking for graduates who can evolve into its future managers so you should use your CV to highlight any experience you have of leadership positions or times when you've volunteered to take on more responsibility. For example, if you held a supervisory role in a part-time job. Make this clear and emphasise the leadership skills you used such as thinking stategically, making decisions, motivating others, delegating tasks and giving feedback.

Innovation is also important to Shell. Its Gamechanger programme, for example, was founded in 1996 and provides financial and technical support for innovators with promising ideas. So far it's helped develop over 150 ideas. Have you ever had a bright idea or thought of something new? How did you convince people it was a good idea? Did you face any obstacles and how did you overcome them?

For more inspiration, take a look at the job description of the role you're applying for and Shell's website. For instance, Shell's core values are honesty, integrity and respect for people. Try to highlight examples in your CV that align with these values.

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