How to Write a CV
We have all experienced a time when we have had to create or adapt our CV to apply for that all important job but how do we actually know if we are hitting the right notes with recruiters when they read it? Writing a CV is your chance to really sell your skills, knowledge and abilities to your potential new employer. Therefore it is vital that you get it right.
Here are some simple tips and techniques to help you to create the perfect CV for the role you are applying for.
Before you begin typing your CV, sit down with a piece of paper and look at the role you are applying for. Take time to consider how your skills and experience compare with the skills that the role requires.
Ask yourself if you have sufficient information about the job description and if not, consider where you could find out more about it. The more detail you have the better as this will help you tailor your CV to meet and highlight the key skills and requirements required for the role you are applying for.
Once you have drafted what these are and how your skills are relevant, you can now start to write your CV. See the attached for an example template.
Writing your CV
Always create your CV as a plain text document or you may risk the recruiter being unable to open the file electronically.
Use font type Arial size 11, however if you do need to take the font size down slightly to fit everything onto the CV (no more than 2 pages) then this is also ok.
Avoid tables and lose the frills
When writing your CV avoid using tables unnecessarily as they take up space and are not always appropriate. You don’t want the recruiter being put of by lots of text and tables.
Additionally, your CV should be free of borders, clip art, patterns and fancy fonts. Your CV is representative of you and is the first thing that the recruiter will see before meeting you. Therefore you don’t want to distract them from the information with unnecessary decoration. Make sure your CV is clearly presented, concise and demonstrates your skills and experience in the best possible light.
Never write your CV in a landscape format. CV’s should always be written in portrait as this is the standard format for CV’s and also looks more professional.
Generally, CV’s should be no more than 2 pages long. This is because employers generally spend no more than 2 minutes reading a CV and take around 15 seconds to evaluate it. Therefore you want to be sure you are making an impact and your skills and knowledge are clearly defined to immediately appeal to the employer.
Remember – first impressions count so cut out the waffle and concentrate on what needs to be included using short sentences and avoiding detailed paragraphs.
Use key words that show you match the position requirements. Using positive language will also make the reader feel positive and it will convey a part of your personality as well if you are a naturally positive person which could bode well when the recruiter has to make a decision.
Always have a copy of the role description when writing your CV so that you can tailor this information to suit. It will also give you an idea of what areas you think you may need to develop and act on them, where possible in the meantime.
Always be specific in your examples. Employers want to know what your successes are and want to be able to recognise these clearly. Therefore, say what needs to be said clearly and concisely.
If you need to, use percentages or numbers to illustrate your success and the impact you could have on the role you are applying for. This is fine and employers like to see what results you have achieved in your previous employment to give them an indication of how well you would be able to do the job.
Always try and avoid jargon where possible when writing your CV. Recruiters and employers need to understand what they are reading and make a decision on whether you would be suitable for the role. If there is a lot of jargon in there, although it may sound impressive, it will not do you any favours if the recruiter can not understand what you are explaining.
Therefore it is best to use plain English when writing a CV.
As well as listing your employment history on your CV, make sure you include any voluntary work or work placements as part of this as it all counts. If you have an extensive employment history there is no golden rule on how far back you should cover, but we would recommend going back no more than 5 years. However, if there is something that is specific to the role you are applying for and it is after the 5 year period, then make sure you still include it as it is evidence of the experience that you have in relation to the role.
For this section of your CV you will need to list your education history. Generally this only needs to include qualifications obtained from high school level and above.
When listing your qualifications at GCSE level, it is preferred if you list how many you were awarded, for example, ‘9 GCSE’s’. You can specify the grades for example, ‘9 GCSE’s grades A-C’ and even include the grades you received for the core subjects, English, Maths and Science if they are applicable to the role you are applying for. This process is the same for any further education you have completed including A level and degree standard.
Check and check again
Although this sounds obvious, you would be surprised at how many people forget this and submit their CV’s with errors on it. This does not create a good first impression with employers and could affect your chances of passing the CV sift and getting through to the interview stage.
Therefore before you print out that dozen copies of your CV, make sure you have checked it thoroughly for any spelling or content errors. If you are still not sure, ask at least two other people to check it, they may spot something you have missed.
….Finally – It’s your life
Remember, your CV is a snapshot of your employment history and your life to date. Therefore make it as interesting as possible. Inject your personality and style and most importantly tell the truth.