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These Are the Words You Should Use on Your Grad CV, According to Data

Posted in Blog by on September 29, 2020

2020 has been a strange year for many different reasons, but for university graduates looking to get their foot in the door of a job market that’s been put through the ringer by the ongoing pandemic, things are a little tougher than usual. We wanted to look at the situation in more detail, which is why we conducted research into what employers are really looking for across a range of the most popular graduate career paths.

We all know how difficult it can be to write a CV. The choices we make when it comes to language can be make or break. Choose your words carefully and a hiring manager will be suitably impressed enough to invite you to interview. Miss the mark and your CV could well be chucked in the bin before they’ve even finished reading it.

That’s why we set out to discover the most important words and terms that many employers are looking for in this year’s graduates.


woman talking to employer

To do this, we first identified the most popular and in-demand graduate choices using search results from Google. Through this, we identified the following as being the most highly-desired roles and sectors:



For each role type, we took a sample of 100 different graduate-level job adverts from popular job site Indeed.co.uk. Using a text-reading algorithm, we identified the most commonly-mentioned skills, competencies and experience required for each job. This then clued us in to the most important words and phrases that grads should be putting on their CVs to land that coveted first job after graduating.

We also segmented information that related to hiring companies with this same analysis. This provided us with not only CV competencies that were required, but also the types of companies hiring in each field and their attitudes. Such information would then provide grads with extra insights that they can use when interviewing.

So, what did we find out?


Fitting for someone who would be working with numbers, words like ‘technically skilled’ and ‘financially savvy’ were common in this field’s job adverts. Employers are looking for team players, who are comfortable with meeting new people and are quick to learn, all valuable traits in those looking to get ahead in accounting.


Social Media


Someone comfortable with all-things digital would be the ideal candidate for this role. As a relatively new job, buzzwords like ‘digital savvy’ and ‘brand experience’, along with strong communication skills and creativity were common – all essential skills in giving brands and agencies a personable, friendly tone on their social channels.



Recruitment & HR


You may think that recruitment and HR require the gift of the gab, but our results show that ‘strong communication skills’ and ‘a social personality’ popped up less frequently than you’d expect. Instead, employers looking for recruitment and HR executives favour practical knowledge, sector experience and those with career-focused, business minds. Looking to get a leg up here? Take note!



As you’d expect from a sector as demanding as law, recruiters look for law graduates who are ‘able’, ‘motivated’ and have a ‘desire to succeed’, but above all, ‘excellent communication skills’ scored the highest. And in the law world, clear, unambiguous communication is practically essential.




Unsurprisingly, employers were looking for graduate designers who already had a proven track record of being able to flex their creative skills. ‘Marketing knowledge’, ‘brand experience’ and ‘excellent time management’ also popped up frequently, showing that designers need the skills to deliver creative designs to strict deadlines.



The student experience comes into particular focus on teaching role job ads. Phrases like ‘learning outcomes’, ‘pupil development’ and ‘learner support’ came up frequently, showing that teachers need to share a passion for putting children on the right path, as well as having the ability and organisational skills that all the best educators we’ve known have.




A tough sector to thrive in, previous sales experience is a large factor for employers, which might be difficult as a graduate. Luckily, they’re also looking for people who are driven, can work well in teams and have experience building relationships. And, if you’ve just completed a degree, you should easily be well versed in all three of these things!


If you’re looking for a brilliant student experience whilst building out your CV, head over to the Nido Student site or drop us a line on 0207 1000 100 for more information on our student residences.