The key to writing a CV is to put yourself into the shoes of the person that will read it. That person is likely to be short of time and they may have a large number of CV’s to review. It is vital that your CV stands out from the crowd, not only in terms of the detail, but in terms of what the reader will see on your CV with one quick glance.
There are many old fashioned rules when it comes to CV writing, many of which are not necessarily best practice in today’s modern, fast-paced world. We at Appoint Group advocate logic and clarity for CV writing, far out weighing the old school rules in importance.
There are two reasons why it is vital to get the structure of your CV correct. Firstly, you don’t want to miss out any important information, such as your contact details for example (It sounds daft but we still regularly receive CV’s without contact details, sometimes even without a name!). The second is that you want the good stuff to stand out. It needs to be easily found by the reader. The truth of the matter is that your reader will most likely take one look at the front page, or maybe even just the first half of the first page. If he or she can’t see the relevance to the job requirements then that CV will likely be deleted there and then.
A summary section is a great way of making key and relevant information stand out. It is important to keep it brief, to the point and of the upmost relevance to the job for which you have applied. Don’t just limit it to work experience but give it variety and flair. Perhaps include a mixture of experience, qualification, personality and work ethic to make it stand out.
When it comes to detailing your work experience, make sure that your most relevant work experience is as close to the top as possible. If your most relevant experience is your most recent job then that’s easy. If not, don’t be afraid to put your different experiences in an order other than date order if need be. Whatever you do, make sure that each job that you have had has clear beginning and end dates.
The use of bullet points can often make a CV easier to read quickly, whilst ensuring that the reader still absorbs the key information.
If you are struggling with the structure of your CV or would like assistance, please contact us and we will happily send you a template CV to use.
The majority of people in the UK are still of the misguided opinion that a CV must not be more than two pages long. Again, put yourself in the shoes of the reader. If he or she picks up a CV and can see from the first half of the first page that this person has the right sort of experience, they will want to read on. A regular complaint that we get from clients is that CV’s lack sufficient detail. In order to really sell yourself, simply listing your job placements and qualifications doesn’t give you this opportunity. Make sure you take the time to explain aspects such as:
- What you learned from your experience
- What you did particularly well
- How this experience will prove useful in future work that you will do
- Any particular recognition you gained
Even a graduate or someone at the beginning of their career will likely need a least two to three pages to really do themselves justice. Those with more experience might need three to four pages. Have confidence that, if you get your front page right, the reader will be capsulated by your CV and will happily continue to read. If you don’t get the front page right it simply won’t matter how long it is because the chances are that the remaining pages will never get looked at.
Different people have different writing styles and it is important that you stay true to yourself when it comes to writing style. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come across. At the same time though, don’t be too relaxed or informal. Whatever you do though, stick to the following basic rules:
- Always stick to the use of proper English grammar and fully formed, non-abbreviated words
- Always run a spelling and grammar check
- Ensure you have someone proof read your CV
- Never write a CV in the third person (This is the single largest pet hate of all our clients. It is your CV so it should be as though you have written it, not someone else).
- Sell Yourself
Many people feel uncomfortable about blowing their own trumpet. The truth of the matter is that a CV is a sales brochure. You are the product. Nobody else is going to tell a hiring manager how good you are so it is down to you to do a good job of this. Selling yourself is the whole point of a CV so don’t be shy!
Some tips to help this feel more natural include:
- Don’t just claim that you are great. Back it up with achievements or reasons why.
- Use sentences such as “My superiors often tell me that I am…” or “I have proven to be an excellent…” or “My references will tell you that…”