How to write a CV
What is a CV?
CV is short for Curriculum Vitae and is a concise document summarising your skills, character, education, experience and achievements.
A CV is used to sell yourself to prospective employers and should highlight why you’re the best person for the job. In addition to your CV, employers may also require a cover letter (click here to read our article on the importance of a good cover letter) and a completed application form depending on the position and company.
Here we take a look at all of the key aspects in writing a perfect CV.
What information to include on your CV
Your full name, address and phone number(s) are essential information to include in your CV. Also consider adding your LinkedIn but do ensure that all the information is up to date beforehand as the employer may notice discrepancies between your CV and profile.
You don’t need to add a photo unless it is relevant to the job for example a modelling position.
Also known as a personal statement – this concise statement should highlight your career aims and what you can bring to the company. It’s the first thing an employer will likely read so it needs to be short and snappy, no longer than a few sentences.
The aim is to showcase why you are the best person for the job so your personal profile should be tailored to every job you apply for.
List your experience with the most recent employment first including the job title, name of the company, time in post as well as key responsibilities (bullet point format) and achievements. Use figures and facts to reinforce your capabilities which match up to the position.
An important point is to only mention experience that is relevant to job at hand so for example if you’re applying for a marketing position then there is no need to mention part-time work at a supermarket ten years ago. If you have many years’ worth of experience, you can reduce the detail of old or irrelevant roles.
List your education history with the most recent first – this should include the name of the institutions and the dates you were there, followed by the qualifications and grades you achieved.
Skills and achievements
Outline four or five key skills relevant to the position and always make sure to use examples to back up your claims. This will add weight to what you’re talking about for example highlighting your proficiency in software packages when applying for an IT based role.
Show how these skills can be transferred over to your new role and also don’t forge tot include any relevant qualifications.
Hobbies and interests
This isn’t a mandatory section so best try to avoid talking about the typical hobbies we always see on CVs such as socialising, going out and reading just for the sake of it.
Consider if the hobby or interest mentioned will add value to your CV, maybe it is relevant to the position or it could be a talking point in the interview? If not then we recommend not to write anything here.
It is not necessary to provide the names and contact details of referees at this stage however you can state 'references available upon request' in this section.
Remember to always ask permission from a referee before passing their details onto a recruiter or potential employer.
Formatting and structure
A poorly designed CV will in most cases end up in the bin without consideration reflecting badly on the applicant – so it is vital to spend time on the structure and presentation.
If you’re unsure on how a CV format should look, then check out our ready-made templates here.
Here are some useful guidelines for writing up CV:
- Avoid the dreaded wall of text and use clear headings with a mix of bullet points and short paragraphs to make it quick and easy for employers to read.
- Choose a professional font such as Arial, Verdana or Tahoma and avoid Comic Sans at all costs!
- The font size shouldn’t be too big or too small, we recommend between 10 and 12 is the optimal size and make sure it is consistent throughout.
- Use clear headings to break up the text and the font size should be slightly bigger than the paragraph font size at around 14 to 16.
- Spend time checking your grammar and spelling – even ask a friend or family member to spellcheck beforehand.
- Keep the CV short and concise – it should be no more than two sides of A4.
- Avoid bright colours, borders and novelty paper – aim to keep it professional.
- Save the file as PDF when sending your CV digitally as this will maintain any formatting so you can be sure that employers see your CV as intended.
Top takeaway tips
- Don’t leave employment gaps in your CV or be prepared to give an explanation during the interview.
- Include a personal statement to explain why you are the best person for the job (click here for more information).
- Be honest – overstating your accomplishments can send up a red flag that may come back to haunt you during an interview or eliminate your chances of securing an interview in the first place.
- Keep it up to date and document your achievements regularly to ensure your CV is ready to go for when that perfect job opportunity crops up.
- Don’t waffle – if it is not adding value to your CV with the goal of making the employer want to hire you, then it’s best to remove it.
- Avoid using overused clichés in your CV such as goal driven, flexible, detail orientated and instead only use keywords when back up your accomplishments.
- Don’t mention your age or marital status as these do not affect your ability to do the job and it’s against the law for employers to ask about them under the Equality Act 2020.
We’re experts in recruitment and we’re always on hand to provide any advice or support on the writing CVs or the wider recruitment process. Please contact us here and speak to one of our consultants.