Today I’ll be sharing with you the tips that I have picked up along the way, of how to write a CV. Obviously I am not an expert in this field by any means! However, when I was first looking up how to write a CV myself, these were some of the tips that helped me through the process.
Recruiters spend on average 7 seconds skimming over each new CV they receive. This statistic understandable terrifies some people, because that’s really not a lot of time to prove that you’re the best candidate for a job. CV writing can seem a tedious and daunting task. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it perfect, which in turn just makes it more stressful for us. My aim in this post is to eliminate some of that stress, and to make the CV writing process as simple as possible.
We’ll kick this off with one of the most important tips of all…
Doing your Research
Before you begin the CV writing process, you need to know what sort of jobs you’re looking to apply for. Now for some people this is easy, but for others (like me), a lot of research is involved.
They say that you should cater your CV to each new job you apply for, in line with their person specification/job description. I’d recommend paying particular attention to the skills and knowledge they are looking for. Consider how you can link your own previous experience to fit in with the attributes outlined on the specification. This way you can showcase why you’d be the perfect fit for the position, and why they should invite you to an interview.
Formatting your CV
When you write a CV, it’s always best to keep it as simple and clear as possible. Use a basic font, so no colours or funky fonts. It’s recommended to use 1.0 – 1.5 spacing between lines, to keep it neat and easily-readable.
If you can keep it to one page, awesome! But if you end up using two pages then that’s fine too, I just wouldn’t suggest any more than two sides of A4 as it can seem a bit much.
Bold headings can be used to divide sections, for better readability. Some individuals also opt for underlining their headings with a wide line that crosses the length of the page. This too can help to break up the text and improve readability.
Some examples of headings could include: profile, career history, education, and skills.
Keep personal details at the top: name, professional email, and telephone number. You might also wish to include your current job title if you feel it’s relevant. Ensure you’re using a professional looking email address on your CV, no prospective employer wants to see email@example.com for instance.
Don’t include your full address, date of birth, marital status, etc – it wastes valuable space! You’re really trying to sell yourself here in the most compact and professional way possible.
Content to Include
In the past there’s been some controversy around whether or not a personal profile is necessary. With that in mind, if you’ve opted not to include one then feel free to skip to the next section. For those of you who would like to include a personal profile, here’s what I would suggest:
- Try to keep the length at around 4-5 sentences, using no more than about 200 words. This means you’ll avoid taking up too much precious space, but you can also give a solid overview of your character and background.
- Avoid stereotypical key words and phrases where possible.
- You can choose to write this section in third or first person, neither tends to appear better than the other.
- Include your level of education, objective, relevant skills, and achievements.
- Summarise what you can offer and grab their attention. The intention with this section is to make them want to read the rest of your CV.
Display your career history in reverse chronological order, in other words, put your most recent job first. State your job title, and then in brackets you can mention the type of work (i.e. voluntary, part-time, full-time). Also take note of how long you worked there e.g. October 2018 – May 2020.
Employers and recruiters also like to see what your main duties and responsibilities were within each role, so make sure to include these as well. This way they can assess the level of experience you’ve had in the areas they’re looking for. Some of these duties and responsibilities could be:
- Holding responsibility for a group of individuals, such as staff or service users;
- Administrative work;
- Liaising with clients or other professionals; and
- Organising and planning projects/events.
These are just a few generic examples, and obviously the duties you’d been including here will vary massively depending on what job you’ve had.
If you’ve been working continuously over the past 10 years or so and have had lots of small jobs here and there, you don’t need to mention all of them. Just mention the most relevant ones to the job you’re applying for. You could always include a line saying ‘Please contact for a full job history’. But obviously if you can make it fit then by all means do.
At the end of this section (or at the end of the document) you can say ‘references available upon request’. I would leave out the names and contact details of your references. Partly because it wastes space, but also your referees (depending on who they are) might not appreciate their personal information being sent out to multiple agencies or companies.
If you’re an experienced professional with a varied job history, you can keep this part brief because your career section will make more of an impact. However, if you’re a junior candidate then you can go into more detail here because qualifications will be more relevant and recent for you.
If you’ve recently left school or graduated university, you can mention particular modules here that are relevant to role. Although, you probably only want to do this if you did well in that topic. E.g. you don’t want to say ‘we studied … and I got a D’.
This section also provides you with an opportunity to mention any extra curricular activities you took took part in. For example, you might’ve been a prefect or apart of a scholars’ programme. Alternatively, maybe you offered tutoring services to other students, or helped lead a club.
Core Skills and Achievements
This is a great section because you can cater it specifically to the job specification. If you decide to use bullet points to display your key skills, then it’s advised not to use more than about 3 words per bullet point. Otherwise it can get a bit wordy.
This section gives you a chance to mention your hard skills as well as your soft skills. Hard skills are things like the ability to speak another language; solid experience with specific computer software or programming languages; or certifications you might hold like a qualification or degree. Whereas soft skills tend to refer to being hard-working, a good team player, and a strong communicator.
Certain roles may require someone with a stronger set of hard skills, for example, IT Engineers; but others might deem soft skills as more important, such as roles in childcare or customer service. Hard skills are easily measurable, and demonstrate what you know and the experience you have. However, soft skills mostly come down to who you are as an individual, which is why they can often be harder to develop.
Hobbies and Interests
Hobbies and interests may sounds like the same thing, but there is a difference. A hobby is a regular activity you do. For example sports, cooking, clubs you’re in. On the other hand, interests are things you enjoy but are not particularly doing on a regular basis. For example, volunteering and travel.
When choosing which hobbies and interests to include on your CV, try to keep it to ones that will make impact, e.g running marathons, fundraising, volunteering, blog writing. Leave out going to the cinema or socialising as I imagine your prospective employer probably isn’t looking for these.
Show your potential employers that you’ve taken the time to learn and develop skills that you weren’t taught in school. It demonstrates your ability to commit and willingness to learn, which are some great attributes to have on your CV.
To Round Up…
- Clearly divide your sections.
- Break up text for readability.
- Be honest, and don’t be afraid to talk yourself up a bit.
- Cater your CV to the job specification.
- Include hobbies and interests if you’re looking to fill space, don’t have much work experience, and have hobbies and interests relevant to the position.
- Include images.
- Share your marital status, date of birth, full address or unprofessional email address.
- Include hobbies and interests if you have a lot of experience, are running out of space, or are applying for more senior positions.
- Forget to check your spelling and grammar before submitting your CV.
- Lie on your CV!
I hope this post has been useful to anyone looking to learn how to write a CV. For more information on how to write a CV, take a look at these helpful websites below:
Looking at applying for university? Check out our recent post here: https://www.emgoingplaces.com/2020/08/is-going-to-university-the-right-option-for-you/