Graduates: produce an excellent CV

First published July 2009

In this short article, David Sullivan of, a specialist computer forensics recruiter, looks at how graduates can increase your chances of being selected for interview by improving your CV. David can be contacted at:

As you will know if you have graduated recently, finding your first role in computer forensics at this time is not easy. Just locating a role not requiring previous experience is tricky. However, the competition is tough and those organisations that have recruited graduates so far this year received a large number of applicants for every open position.

So, as an ambitious, proactive graduate keen to start your career in computer forensics you have found a role which looks fantastic and doesn’t require previous experience. How can you give yourself the best chance of being selected for interview?

Luckily, the answer is simple: produce an excellent CV.

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Ok, this is real life and I am not going to pretend that previous work experience in a CF environment is not an advantage as it certainly is, but, the vast majority of graduates do not have this experience. Securing an interview for a graduate role is, in my experience, all about having an excellent CV that clearly shows your skills and experience

Last week I met with a UK based Manager currently recruiting CF graduates for a role requiring no work experience. This person told me how this summer he had already rejected twelve potential candidates with a CF degree purely due to the poor quality of the CV. At this stage in your career when you don’t have a track record employers are buying your potential. If your CV – the document representing you – is sloppy and amateurish it doesn’t say a great deal about your future performance and you will not be selected for interview. This is especially important in a profession such as CF where attention to detail and written communication skills are so vital.

Below is an example CV I put together that has been used as a template for over thirty CF graduates who have secured a role in the CF industry. It is short – most graduate CV’s do not need to be more than one page – clear, concise and concentrates on achievements rather than description. Academically, it does not go into boring detail about the course modules – or reveal individual GCSE grades – instead crisply summarising the course and talking about your project which is an area likely to interest a hiring manager. It doesn’t contain wordy paragraphs of clichés but uses bullet points to break up the information. If you would like me to critically review your CV, please feel free to forward it to me at: .

Finally, although we can exaggerate on our CV do be aware of the serious consequences of lying, however minor the point may seem to you at the time.

In summary, always keep in mind that the point of the CV is to give a hiring manager every chance to invite you for interview: not reasons to reject your application. Make it easy for them to invite you to meet them when you can then show them just why you are the right person for the job!

In my next article I will cover preparation for CF interviews including some advice on handling those tricky questions that we all hate!


John Smith
07789 633926
Full driving licence


· A Digital Forensics undergraduate at the University of Fairyland currently achieving 1st class results with a year’s experience working in the IT industry.
· Familiar with specialist forensic software such as EnCase, FTK Professional and Backtrack 3 .Consistently maintaining a good understanding of the Windows platform and have basic Linux knowledge.
· Highly developed written and oral communication skills gained through effectively solving enquiries in an IT network support role and through managing academic projects.

University of Fairyland – BsC(Hons) Digital Forensics 09/06 – Present

Studied a range of both technical and business orientated units covering system security, cryptography and cryptanalysis, business continuity planning, project management, business IT related law, web development and databases.

Final year project:

· Conducting a penetration test of an e-commerce company’s website and network exploring threats and vulnerabilities in an e-commerce environment’.

Skills developed during the degree and project include

· Using FTK Professional to investigate a device in accordance with the ACPO guidelines.
· Familiar with procedures regarding network enumeration and application stress testing and scrutinizing the results for possible vulnerabilities.
· Analysing and identifying vulnerable code and writing shellcode to exploit a simple buffer overflow in Linux.

Other Education

A’levels – Computer Science, History, Geography 09/04 – 07/06
9 GCSE’s at grade C or above 09/98 – 07/04


Goblin Systems – Network Support 06/07 – 07/08

A medium sized supplier of magic to the fairy marketplace

· Building, installing and maintaining Windows web, SQL, exchange and file servers.
· Writing SQL queries to generate reports for the finance department and management.
· Using to create functionality in the company’s website and back office systems.
· Setting up Juniper and Checkpoint firewalls to protect the office network and create VPNs.
· Responsibility for managing the company’s backup procedure.
· Implementing and maintaining the company’s blackberry server.

Cinderellas – Head Barperson 06/06– 09/06

A large, busy City Centre Bar.

· Managing a small Team of bar staff ensuring outstanding customer service at all times;
· Exceeded shift manager revenue target by over 37% in a 3 month period.


· All sports but especially sailing as a member of Fantasy Yacht Club. I was Commodore of the University Sailing Club at Fairyland this year and have successfully represented my club and University at regattas across Europe;
· Technology. I have a broad interest in all forms of technology subscribing and contributing to many forums such as Security Focus and Forensic Focus.
· Cinema. As well as watching a wide variety of films of all genres, I regularly write film reviews for both the local newspaper and the university cinema club.

David Sullivan
01376 339222/07789 633926

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