How to write a solid CV

Employers and recruiters look at a CV for an average of 8 seconds, so yours has to stand out to be noticed. Our easy hints and tips will help you make the perfect first impression.

Keep it up to date

Every time you leave a job, achieve a new qualification or gain a skill, get it on your CV as soon as possible that when it comes to applying for jobs in the future, you're all set with the best possible version of your CV.

First things first

Your CV should always start with your name and contact details, so that they're easily accessible when someone's trying to contact you. Include your first and last name, current job title or profession, email address, phone number (that you can be reached on easily), and your town & country of residence. There's no need to include your full address, or a title that says "CV", "Curriculum Vitae" or "resume". 

Make it personal

Add a short personal statement that explains why you're interested in the job, and what aspects of your personality you think would fit with the employer's culture. This is part of researching the company, and tailoring your CV to each application you send. Pick out requirements from the job advert that you're confident you can match and tailor your personal statement to compliment them. Recruiters and employers will appreciate the extra effort.

Employment history

Add basic details of previous employment, with the most recent at the top. Include the company name, your job title, the dates you were there, and a simple description of your responsibilities. Don't go into too much detail here, or you'll have nothing to talk about in your interview, but make sure you mention things that are as relevant as possible to the job you're applying for.

Fill those gaps

If there are gaps in your employment history, don't hide them. You're better off including them and explaining them, rather than hiding them and having to lie on your CV. Try to think of things you did during that time, other than job-hunting. Did you learn a new skill or gain a qualification? Use that to avoid the assumption that you were just lazing around.

Skills, skills, skills!

Write a skills section that is relevant to the role you're applying for. It might be the case that your CV has to change for each application you send, but it'll make a real difference if your CV perfectly matches the job description. Also, search the job title you're applying for online to see what skills are desirable, and if you've got any of those, add them in.

Are you qualified? 

When it comes to your qualifications, what you include depends on what level you've reached. If you've got a bachelor's degree, a masters and a PhD, then you probably don't need to include your GCSE results. But if you've got A Levels or an apprenticeship, then including your GCSEs might still be relevant. It's a judgement call and if in doubt, more is more in these circumstances. 

Keep it short(ish)

It’s best to keep your CV to two pages or under, but it’s important not to squeeze stuff in. If you’ve got so many relevant skills, qualifications and previous jobs that you can’t fit them all in, then go to three pages. Relevant is the most important word here – be brutal and only keep things in that the employer will actually care about.

Check, check and check again

Employers and recruiters get so many CVs that any with errors will be tossed aside immediately, simply because it shows a lack of care and attention. If you can’t be bothered to spell-check your CV (even when the computer does it for you), then you probably won’t make a very good employee. Also, sense-check as well. Does it flow and make sense? Get someone else to check it too, if you can, so that you can get an outside perspective.

Don't lie, ever

This is pretty simple: don’t lie on your CV. Even if you think you can get away with it, you don’t want to take the chance. When you’re asked about the lie in an interview, and you have to then lie to the interviewer’s face, they will be able to tell. Alternatively, if you get through the interview and get the job, and then get asked to do what you’ve lied about, it’s not going to look good. If you’ve lied about a previous employer or gap in employment and your new boss finds out while you’re still in your probationary period, the likelihood is you’ll be out of the door.

Data is King

It’s all very well saying you increased sales in your last role, provided great customer service, or carried out a task successfully, but numbers will help back up your claims. You increased sales by 70%. You had 92% customer satisfaction. You carried out this task in one week rather than two. Back. It. Up.

Make it look good!

With so many CVs to read, employers and recruiters will want something that displays its information in an attractive, easy-to-read format. Use a simple font, and include paragraphs, short sentences and bullet points, with plenty of white space around each text element to make it easy to read. Don’t go OTT, though. Microsoft Word gives you all sorts of options from WordArt and borders, to colourful text and ClipArt, but you want to keep it simple. Having one simple colour scheme throughout is fine, but no bright or clashing colours. Images aren’t necessary and just take up space.

Keywords are key

Including the job titles you’re interested in and buzzwords related to them makes your CV pop up when those words are searched for on search engines and job boards. If you’re not sure what to include, search your job title on Google and see what related terms come up.

This might seem like a lot of things to think about, especially if you’re changing your CV for each job you’re applying for, but if you’re serious about getting the perfect job for you, it’ll be worth it. Plus, once you’ve got a perfect format in terms of look and layout, you can just change the details when necessary and save the new version.

If you’re looking for more help and advice about applying for jobs, you can contact us here.


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