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How to write a successful CV

Is the need to write a CV causing you confusion or stress?

It helps to understand the purpose of a CV.

An employer has requested your application for a job in the form of a resume. Your resume should provide details of your name and contact information, skills, qualifications and employment history and should be tailored towards the job you are applying for. This will allow the employer to assess the information on your CV against the requirements of the job on offer. Usually, if your CV demonstrates that you meet all of the job criteria, you will be offered an interview.

Did you know that an employer usually spends 7-30 seconds looking at a CV!? Therefore, the emphasis needs to be on the first 2 sections, your ‘Profile’ and your ‘Key Skills’.

It should also be clearly formatted and short enough for a recruiter or hiring manager to easily notice the relevant information off the page.

Here is some basic guidance on each of the sections you would expect to find on a CV;

Personal details: It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often people forget to either include or update their name and contact details. You want to ensure a recruiter or employer can get hold of you so you don’t miss any opportunities and you can avoid any awkward moments. To ensure that you are complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it is no longer required to put your full address, age or profile picture. However, if the employer would benefit from knowing you are local to the job position, you can add your town or the start of your postcode.

Personal statement: This is the first section an employer will notice so it is essential to make sure that you have tailored this section to the job you are applying for by mentioning things like, how many years relevant experience you have across which of your roles, sectors or industries. You can also mention the relevant attributes and characteristics you have as well as what you are looking for. For example, it might be career progression in the same sector, utilising transferable skills to enter a new sector or returning to work after raising children.

Although this personal statement should stand out, be mindful not to use casual language and keep it professional!

Key skills: This is usually the second section on your CV and is helpful to quickly highlight to the employer that you have the skills that they are looking for. If this information marries up to the skills/job on offer, the employer is more likely to spend time reading the rest of your CV. It is best to bullet point this section which can include skills such as total years of relevant industry knowledge and/or experience, the type of IT packages you are competent in, languages you speak, relevant qualifications, attributes, licences etc.

Work experience: Starting in reverse chronological order (recent first), this section should include all of your relevant work experience. Include your job title, the name of the organisation, time in post, and your key responsibilities. It is usually preferable to bullet point your key duties and responsibilities in a list as it is easier for the employer to pluck out the relevant information.

Education: Your educational experience and achievements should be listed here, along with dates, the type of qualification and/or the grade you achieved – if you have completed many qualifications and/or courses throughout your career, it is advisable to only mention the ones relevant to the job requirements. However, you may be at a point in your career where you have achieved more academia than work experience and therefore need to emphasis this section the most to include knowledge, achievements and work experience. You can find further guidance on this type of CV Here

Hobbies and interests: You don’t always need to include hobbies and interests on your CV, but mentioning relevant ones could back up your skills and help you to stand out from the crowd – not to mention give you something to talk about at an interview. Don’t just say you enjoy socialising with friends just for the sake of including something. If it’s not going to add value, leave it out.

Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history should also be included as required.

References: You don’t need to provide the names and contact details of your references at this stage. You can simply say, ‘references available upon request’. This shows the employer that there are references to be obtained if necessary. If you are struggling for space, you can leave it out.

To summarise;

In order to maximise the value of your CV, you should always aim to;

  • Keep it short and to the point – two sides of A4 will almost always suffice.
  • Choose a clear, professional font to ensure that your CV can be easily read.
  • Lay it out in a logical order, with sufficient spacing and clear section headings.
  • Order your experience and education in reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent
  • Check your grammar and spelling thoroughly and avoid using casual language, keeping it professional.
  • Tailor your CV to each and every job application, focussing on meeting the ‘job criteria’ and/or ‘person specification’

For further guidance on writing a successful CV, please see the following industry resources;

Our team at Verus Recruitment are on hand to support you through this process. Please do not hesitate to contact us!