How to write a CV

In this article we will look at the best way to go about writing a CV

Consider what kind of CV will work best

When it comes to applying for jobs, it’s true that some types of CVs work better than others. When applying for jobs with a design element (for example, graphic design or marketing) it can help to have a stylish, modern CV that will show off your flair for design. Furthermore, if the job you are applying for is highly technical it can be helpful to make use of a skills-based CV format.

However, for most jobs it’s best to keep it simple by using a standard format. Your CV should never be more than 2 sides of A4 paper so be as concise as possible. Remember that the recruiter will potentially be wading through hundreds of CVs at one time. Make sure that yours stands out by having all the necessary information instantly visible for their convenience.

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What should you put on a CV

Discovering your USPs and planning the content of your CV before compiling is important, as it can help you to avoid including unnecessary information, and can enable you to highlight any points you want employers to know about. There are no hard rules when it comes to CV layouts, however, this is a good example of how you could order your CV:

Personal statement - This is almost always located uppermost in your CV. In simple terms, a personal statement is a few lines that will help to introduce you to potential employers. For example:

“A highly motivated and dedicated sales professional, currently looking to advance my professional career after six years as a sales assistant.”

There’s no need to have an overly elaborate statement containing too many personal details, keep it simple and to the point.

Education - It is likely that you will need to share at least some details of your educational history. However, you can be sparing. If you have a degree you may wish to omit A level results, however, it can be helpful to include these also. Bear in mind that you probably do not need to include the results of your GCSEs if you attained a higher level of education after completing these exams.

Work experience - This is, without doubt, the most important element of your CV and will likely make up the bulk of your CV’s content.

Within the work experience section you should work backward chronologically from your current or most recent role. Dates are important here as employers will be looking for any gaps. If you have had long career breaks, for example, to raise children or for health reasons, you may wish to include this in order to explain the reasons behind the gap in your employment history.

That being said, your CV should only go back as far as your last 10 -15 years of employment as experience gained before this is unlikely to be considered relevant by employers. It’s best to highlight recent experiences and achievements wherever possible.

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Achievements - It can be difficult to find ways to acknowledge your achievements without sounding arrogant, however, remember that you need to sell yourself and your achievements to potential employers. In this situation it’s useful to think of things that you have been praised for at work. It’s especially useful if you can find concrete figures that prove your value as an employee. For example:

“Worked on a marketing campaign which increased website conversions by 30% over a period of six months.”

Technical skills - This is one to include if you work in a highly technical field such as IT. This is also a good place to include any technical certifications that you would like to highlight to potential employers.

Hobbies and interests - The hobbies and interests column should be employed sparingly. While it is nice to give employers an insight into your personal life you should go easy on this and not include details that are too personal (e.g. which pubs you frequent or which football club you support). When possible it’s best to include interests that portray you in a positive light as a responsible individual (for example, volunteering with a local charity, or mentoring young people in your spare time).

References - You may include the details of references, however, it is also valid to include a line stating that you have references which are available on request.

How long should a CV be? - It can be tricky to look at your own CV the way a stranger would. If this is you it can be helpful to have a friend, relative or even a careers professional look over your CV and give it a ruthless edit. If you are including your achievements gained during school sports days you may be including too much superfluous information!

Remember your contact details! - It might sound basic but remember, you want your contact details to be as visible as possible so that recruiters can easily contact you to arrange an interview.

Ensure your CV looks professional - Finally, ensure that your CV looks as professional as possible by doing a thorough sweep for any spelling or grammatical errors that would otherwise detract from your application. Ensure that your CV is in a legible, sans-serif font. Avoid novelty fonts and divisive fonts like Comic Sans if at all possible.

Here are some additional articles that will help on this topic:

How to Prepare a Video CV

How to Write a Cover Letter

How to Use LinkedIn to Build your Brand