When a company advertises a position, the HR team are usually deluged with CVs from dozens of applicants. Much of the time, a CV is the first contact that you will have with a potential employer and it’s also the stage where the majority of applications are rejected. So you need to have a CV that stands out and helps the HR team to identify your skills and experience.
Here are our top 10 tips on how to write the perfect CV.
1. Include your contact details and essential information.
A surprising number of CVs don’t include contact information, which means that it can be difficult to get in contact with applicants. It’s a simple mistake, but one that could cost you if the employer can’t get in touch with you.
Contact information should include at a minimum your email address, telephone number and home address. You may wish to include your social media presence, for example linking to your LinkedIn account. You should only do so if the profile is relevant to the role and if it would have a positive impact on your application.
When writing out your CV, have a quick look at your email address. If the email address looks like it was created when you were 14, it might not reflect on your current attitude and capabilities.
2. Keep it to the point.
It might be tempting to include every single detail of your working history on your CV, particularly if you’re just starting out in your career. However, employers might not be as enthused about your 14 page epic CV, particularly if you’ve included irrelevant information. A good guideline for the maximum length of a CV is 2 A4 pages.
3. Personal Profile
A brief personal profile can be a great way to humanise a CV, letting the employer attach a personality to a candidate name. Ensure that your profile presents yourself in a good light and emphasises your abilities. Try to avoid cliché statements like ‘I’m a team player, who likes to give 100% at all times’, as these won’t help you stand out.
While on the subject of profiles, when you’re applying for jobs it's worth doing some tidying on your social media accounts. Many employers now check social media accounts - adjust the privacy settings as needed while you're doing so.
4. Education and Qualification.
Make sure that you include all of the qualifications that you have acquired, including those that you may still be studying towards. When listing qualifications, you should do so with the most recent qualifications and training first and include the dates of study.
5. Career History, Skills and Experience
When listing your career history, do so in reverse chronological order, with your most recent employment first and including the dates of your employment. You should detail your main roles and duties, any training you received and any skills that you picked up or developed. You should also account for any gaps in employment. This is the section that most employers focus on, so you should ensure that this section is perfect.
A little customisation can go a long way, so make the effort to tailor your CV to the position you are applying for. Some candidates have multiple CVs for specific industries, whilst others re-write their CV for each application. Even if you choose not to go to these lengths, spending a few moments to ensure that your CV is relevant to the job at hand is essential.
7. Photo or no photo?
In the UK, you will not be expected to include a photo for most applications and it may even result in your application being rejected. However, in other countries it may be expected or even mandatory. There may be exceptions for specific roles, such as modelling, so check the requirements on the job listing.
Poor spelling and grammer can make your CV look like it has not been given the appropriate level of care and attentions, which reflects badly on your image.
Because spell checkers are available in most word processing programmes multiple misspellings are inexcusable and are one of the main reasons a CV is rejected. You should also take care that you are using the appropriate dictionary as Americanised words look odd in a UK CV and vice versa. If you struggle with spelling, have someone look over your CV for mistakes and errors.
Your potential employer will be looking through a number of CVs, so ensure that yours is clean and simple. Making it easier to read increases your chances of it being given more attention. Use simple fonts in a readable size and ensure paragraphs are kept to bite sized chunks.PS, If you’re having difficulties putting together your CV, you can use a template or CV builder (Nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk) but we strongly recommend that you customise yours, so that it doesn’t look identical to another candidate’s application.
If possible, include two or more references from recent employers. It goes without saying that you have asked the referees for permission to include them on your CV, as you don’t want any surprises if they call are called!
So, that’s our top ten tips on how to write the perfect CV that will get you noticed. If you're on to the next stage of the application process, check out our top interview tips.
Image courtesy of Jenni C