How to write a CV

First impressions count!

Getting the right job, can very often be a frustrating and time consuming process so you need to give yourself every opportunity possible. One of the most important things that can make or break the situation is your CV.

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The average employer probably spends only a few seconds reading a CV before either short-listing it or binning it! If they find it attractive and easy to read then they are more likely to retain it for further analysis. There is no such thing as a perfect CV but we’ve put together some points below to help you:

Style

  • Don’t think you’ve got to cram in as much as possible to fill the space - white space, wide margins and double spacing can help and make it easier on the eye.
  • Use bullet points instead of paragraphs where possible and keep sentences short.
  • Use larger fonts and bold type for headings keeping underlining to a minimum.
  • Try to stick to 2, maximum 3 pages, anymore and it becomes too much - keep it short, simple and to the point.
  • Avoid weird and wonderful fonts and please no photographs - it might make your CV stand out but for none of the right reasons.

Content

  • Tell the truth! It’s important to highlight the good things and avoid the bad. Lying will always be uncovered.
  • Stick to the point. Don’t waffle on about intricate technical detail unless absolutely necessary.
  • Include a 2-3 sentence section at the start of the CV entitled “Profile”. Here you can tell them about you, the person - what makes you tick, outline major skills and experience etc. Basically give them an over-view of your character, strengths and abilities.
  • When writing about your work experience list your current / most recent job first. State the company name, your job title(s) and the dates you have worked there. Dates are very important! If you do not put the dates, it looks like you are hiding periods of time when you weren’t working!
  • Always include your achievements and responsibilities - e.g. increased productivity by 30%, reduced customer complaints by 15% etc.
  • Avoid humour, negative things, reasons for leaving, salary details and trade union membership or political affiliations.
  • Include qualifications, awards you have won, training courses you have attended, voluntary work, languages, computer skills and anything else you feel is relevant to the employer.
  • Interests and hobbies can provide a good talking point at an interview but rarely gives you an advantage over other candidates.
  • Do a ‘spell check’ and get someone else to read your CV, poor spelling on a CV is a major turn off!
  • Jobs that you did over 20 years ago probably aren’t that relevant anymore so provide a brief overview of anything over 10 years ago.
  • Good things to mention include communicating with other people, working under pressure to deadlines, being prepared to do the extra things that make a difference, entrepreneurial skills, leadership, team working etc.

Worth noting…

Something worth noting is to try and tailor your CV according to the role that you’re applying for. Highlight and emphasise your skills, education and experience that are relevant to that particular role.

You will find an abundance of CV templates on the internet, there is no standard format. Just pick one you feel comfortable with, make it clear, concise and easy to read with all the relevant details and no waffle!

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