How to write a CV

When applying for a job, your CV – or curriculum vitae – is a summary of your experience, skills and education and needs to be packed with relevant information about you.

Ideally you will produce an individual CV for every position you apply for. In truth, most people will have just the one CV. To gain an advantage over other applicants we suggest you create a generic CV which you can then tailor before applying for a specific role.

‘Employers receive an average of 60 applicants for every advertisement for a low-skilled job, and 20 for every skilled job.’ – BBC, 2016

There are certain accepted ‘golden rules’ for CV writing, including:

What should I include in my generic CV?

Do include (in the following order):

Contact details

Include your full name, contact phone number and email address. Any professional social media presence should be clear.

Profile/Personal statement

This isn’t compulsory but a personal statement will help your CV to stand out.

A concise statement of two or three sentences will suffice; highlighting your key attributes or reasons for deciding to work in a particular field. Pick out a few significant achievements and skills, clearly articulating your career aims and focusing on the sector you are applying to. Treat this as a summary to your covering letter.

Relevant skills

Include skills you have gained through experience. For example, the ability to work in a team, manage people, customer service skills, or IT skills – keep these relevant and to the point.

List your strongest skills and talents first and include some of these towards the top of your CV in the ‘personal statement’. Set modesty aside and without boasting show confidence in your abilities.

Employment history & Work experience

When tailoring your generic CV focus particularly on this area.

Always start with your most recent positions first and work backwards chronologically, including examples of tasks carried out. This can be internships, voluntary roles or previous jobs*.

Employers are most interested in your recent experience so avoid going into too much detail for positions held 10 or more years ago.

Showcase achievements by offering evidence of how targets were exceeded, ideas created, team successes, processes introduced etc. Always be honest as they could use this information at interview.

*Note – if there are gaps in your experience include an explanation as to why. If it’s ‘travelling’ include details of where you went.

Education & Qualifications

List and date all previous education, placing the most recent first. Include any professional qualifications or training courses you have attended which add value to your CV.

If you are a recent graduate and don’t have much relevant work experience, then it is best to put your education above work experience.

Hobbies/Extra curricular

It’s not compulsory to include hobbies in your CV, but you may want to mention any that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, e.g. learning a language in your spare time, writing a blog or reading development books.

Referees

List the contact details for two people who can provide positive comments on your previous employment or experiences. Alternatively, include the note ‘references are available on request’.

 

Don’t include:

A photo 

It is unnecessarily encourages discrimination.

Date of birth or place of birth

Same as above.

Your full home address

A town and postcode is adequate information so employers or Recruiters can see how local you are to the job.

The term ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘résumé’

‘CV’ will suffice in the UK.

 

How should I format and present my CV?
  • A standard CV is ideally no longer than two sides of A4. If you are struggling to keep this length then try reducing your ‘role’ information and ensure achievements are prominent.
  • Type your CV using standard business font such as ‘Tahoma’. A simple format and black font ensures readability is not affected on different computer screens, or when printed.
  • Bullet points should be used to highlight key points.
  • Keep to a chronological and descending order for work experience, qualifications and grades.
  • Think carefully about what style suits your occupation. Unless you are a Graphic Designer keep to a neat standard layout.
  • It is best practice to have both a PDF and a Microsoft Office compatible version of your CV.
  • When saving your CV file name it as such: [Full Name – CV]
  • Add page numbers to the footer of your CV along with your full name.
  • Write your CV in the first person i.e. ‘I am a conscientious and diligent individual with an aptitude for languages’.
Is there anything else I should could consider?
  • If you are applying for different kinds of work and have mixed experience i.e. hospitality and administration, it can help to tailor your CV to the specific industries by having separate versions.
  • It is vital to ensure your CV is relevant to each job application, rather than sending the same generic CV. A cover letter can help with this process.
  • There should be no mistakes in your CV. Check and double check your grammar, spelling and content and use a spell checker. It can help to take a fresh look the next day and ask for a second opinion from a trusted friend or colleague.
  • Try and include as many active words as possible to increase the impact of your CV for example, ‘created’, ‘analysed’ and ‘devised’ to present yourself as a person that shows initiative.
  • Don’t be negative about former employers.
  • Don’t lie or exaggerate information.

For further advice speak to one of our specialist Recruitment Consultants by calling 01202 680 311. Happy job hunting!

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