Whether you’re fresh out of school or you’ve be climbing the career ladder for years; writing your CV can be one of the most frustrating parts of a job application. In a sea of applicants, it’s important your resume stands out from the crowd, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of writing yours, you’re not alone.
There’s no ‘secret formula’ to crafting a successful CV, but making sure that yours is properly formatted and does a good job of demonstrating your skills should give you the competitive advantage you need to secure an interview.
Follow these simple steps and you should have a winning resume in no time:
Keep it Simple
How your CV is presented is almost as important as your credentials, so you should strive to keep yours as streamlined as possible. Your CV should be no longer than two A4 pages. Recruiters will likely have a lot of applications to get through and you don’t want to risk losing their interest with a drawn out resume.
Tailor it to the Job
Every time you send your CV out to a potential employer you should tailor it to the role you are applying for. This is the easiest way to give yourself the edge over your competition. Instead of submitting several carbon-copy resumes to every job, try to use relevant examples and skills to demonstrate why you are the best person for that specific job role.
If you don’t have time to alter each bullet point in your CV, then you should always endeavor to personalize your resume through your personal statement (see below).
Get Things in Order
Writing a fantastic CV is far simpler once you break it down into its essential parts:
- Contact details
- Personal statement
- Employment History & Experience
- Achievements & Extra-Curricular Activities
At the very top of your CV you should include your full name, physical address, email address and your telephone number. This is how your potential employer will get in touch with you if your application is successful, so make sure this information is current. You do not need to include your date of birth or a photo of yourself, though if you have a Linkedin profile or an online portfolio, this might be a good place to include that information too.
As well as your contact information, the beginning of your CV should include a concise personal statement that highlights your key attributes and/or reasons for applying to the job. Select a few relevant skills and achievements that demonstrate to your potential employer why you are good fit for that particular role. You should aim to keep this short and sweet – around 100 words would be perfect.
In this section you’ll want to outline your previous jobs, work experience and/or any apprenticeships you have undertaken. These should be listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first) and should state what your job title or position was, the dates for which you worked there and your basic responsibilities. Bullet points are a good way to present this information, as they break up the text and are easy-to-read. You may also want to include a couple of points about your key achievements within these roles.
Office Administrator at ‘Name of Company’
(January 2011 – March 2013)
- Answering telephones & responding to emails
- Keeping all records up-to-date
Use this section to tell your employer about your formal qualifications. Here you’ll list everything from GCSE’s to NVQs and University Degrees. Once again, you’ll want to list them in reverse chronological order and you should include the name of the institutions, the dates you were there, and the grades you achieved.
Name of Institution
(September 2006 – July 2008)
- Business, Environmental Sciences, Maths
- Achieved grades A-C
In this section give examples of any foreign languages you may speak or any software packages you are confident using (Word, Excel, etc). This is your opportunity to demonstrate the skills that you possess outside of formal education so use it as an opportunity to shine. Employers are more likely to be impressed by the skills and experiences you have required outside of formal studies.
However, remember not to over exaggerate these points, as you may be asked to elaborate on them during your interview.
It’s standard practice to include professional references at the bottom of your CV, as these are one way that a potential employer can double check your credentials. Make sure you have two or more individuals who are happy to provide you with a professional reference but don’t worry about providing their names at this stage. It is perfectly acceptable to use the strapline ‘references upon request’.
Once you’ve fleshed out your CV using these basic guidelines, it’s time to check your facts and formatting before submitting your application.
Make sure you triple check your CV for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Don’t let avoidable errors ruin your chances of securing an interview. Even if spell check seems to think your resume looks ok, it’s a good idea to have someone that you trust to check over your CV as well.
If you’re submitting a job application online (via email or through a job board such as Indeed), it’s always a good idea to save your resume using the .PDF file extension. This will allow potential employers to open and access your CV on any device and it will keep your format consistent.
Follow these simple guidelines and you should be able to put together a strong resume that will set you apart from the crowd. Remember, your CV is your first chance to make a strong impression, so it’s important to get it right from the outset. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family to get their feedback and once you’re happy that your resume is looking good have the confidence to submit your application!
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