WRITING YOUR CV

What is a CV?

A CV (curriculum vitae) or resume is your ticket to a new job. It is a document created by you that encapsulates everything great about you that a prospective employer will want to know. For example, your skills, achievements, character, experience, interests and goals.

In other words, your CV is your shop window, so make sure you spend plenty of time planning and perfecting it.

When writing a CV, always remember that it should be a living, breathing, growing document. What we mean by that is that it should grow and evolve as you do. If you have a new skill or qualification, you change jobs or you start applying for roles that are completely different to where your current CV is angled, you need to update it.

Before writing your CV

Put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your CV. They will be looking for answers to two basic questions:

  1. Does this person have the skills to do the job?
  2. Will they suit our company?

Remember that employers don’t have time to read between the lines, so the more you can demonstrate you are the right person for the job the higher the chance of success. So, before beginning to write your CV, plan out what will be important to any hirers reading it.

When planning, make sure the answer to both of the above questions is YES by:

  • Building your CV to match what they’re looking for
  • Be confident that your skills meet their needs
  • Pointing out the value you could bring to their team/business

Writing your CV

This guide aims to show you how to write a strong and effective CV that will showcase your skills, capabilities and suitability to a potential employer.


PERSONAL STATEMENT

This is your chance to make a splash. Treat it as a sales pitch — you have one chance to grab the reader’s attention with how great you are!

Keep your statement simple, snappy and focused on what you have to offer.  Sum up your personal and professional attributes, taking into account the job description to which you are responding.


PERSONAL INFORMATION

Include your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address — and if you have a website that will add value to your application, include that too.  There is every chance that pages of your CV could get separated, so include your contact details on every page.


WORK EXPERIENCE

Start with your most recent position and work backwards from there. (Note: If you received a promotion at your current or most recent company treat it as a separate position).

Give each role a job title and include start and finish dates, company name and a brief description of what the company does.

List relevant responsibilities, achievements, duties and skills. Describe the scope of your job rather than giving a job description!

If you’ve had a lot of jobs or a long career, you might want to summarise this with headings as ‘Previous Employers’ or ‘Earlier Career’.

Explain any significant career gaps. Even if you’re not working, you may have picked up some incredibly valuable skills from other pursuits in your personal life.


QUALIFICATIONS, EDUCATION, TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

These usually come near the end of the CV, but if some qualifications are essential for the job and make you more marketable, include them after your profile.

List professional and academic qualifications, degrees and executive programmes (giving the subject, awarding body and year), but do not include ‘bought’ memberships.

Remember to include skills such as languages, IT and vocational training.


MIND YOUR LANGUAGE

  • Keep copy short and sweet
  • Avoid lengthy sentences and use bullet-points
  • Make sentences more direct with such phrases as ‘Major achievements include’
  • Use the past tense to describe your career (‘Led a team of…’) but the present tense for your transferable skills and competencies (‘Offers experience in…’).

LAYOUT

  • Keep it clean, uncluttered and orderly
  • Use the same font throughout, and make sure it’s an easy to read one, such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • For a guide on font size, use 10-12 point for your body text, and a maximum of 16 point for headings
  • Refrain from putting words in uppercase and always embolden headings
  • Never reduce font size to fit more in. If you need another page, use one — or trim your words
  • Print on one side of the paper only
  • Number the pages if there are two or more

FUTURE PROOFING

Keep your CV up to date, even when you’re no longer looking — it’ll save you considerable time when you are, and prevent you from forgetting important dates, details, projects or successes.


As recruitment specialists, we see hundreds of CVs a week and have tonnes of additional hints and tips on how to write a CV that will get you noticed, but if you still need some advice, talk to one of your local consultants who will be able to advise.

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