Date Published: 10-01-2018

When it comes to applying for a new job, one of the most daunting tasks can be the first one; Writing or updating your CV. The quality of your CV can be the difference between securing the interview for your dream job, or it being thrown straight in the confidential waste bin.

So, how do you write a CV that will get your name on the ‘Yes’ list for interview?

Get the basics right

There will be debates over the correct format for as long as we use CVs as part of the process of securing work. What this really tells us is that the order is not the most important thing, but having the right sections in the CV is essential.

All CVs should have a Personal Profile, Key Skills, Key Achievements, Career History, Academic Background and a Hobbies & Interests section. When writing each part of the CV you need to make sure you’re demonstrating what you can do for a new company as this is your first, and potentially only if you get it wrong, chance to sell yourself.

Of course, spelling mistakes are a massive turn-off for potential employers. With all of the tools available nowadays to make sure there aren’t any mistakes this is an easy one to ensure. If spelling and grammar is not your strong point get somebody to help you.

Present it well

A good CV will generally be between 2 and 4 pages of A4. Gone are the days of people demanding CVs are no longer than 2 pages. We live in a world where we crave information, so a 2 page CV for somebody with a Degree and a career history spanning 25 years isn’t going to cut it. On the flip side, a fresh Graduate without any prior career history should be able to comfortably get their CV onto 2 pages.

A CV will look well-presented if you space it out properly, use the same, professional font throughout, and use a mixture of short paragraphs and bullet points. Whilst it is tempting, to create extra space, avoid using text boxes and tables.

Personalise it each time….but not too much

Your CV should be targeted for the job you are applying for. This doesn’t mean completely re-writing the CV for every single role you apply for though. Once you have a good structure and content for your CV you will only need to make minor tweaks for different roles to help you stand out. Generally this will only involve changing your Personal Profile and Key Achievements sections so they clearly show why you would be good for the role.

Back up facts with details

This is really important. Employers dislike generic comments that don’t have any context to them at all. Saying you saved your company £50,000 last year sounds great, but doesn’t show anything. If you saved £50,000 out of a budget of £100,000 by renegotiating with a supplier when the new role will need this it is great. If you saved the company £50,000 against a budget of £8,000,000 by cancelling a contract then it is all of a sudden less impressive.

Another example of this is when you manage a team. Simply stating you manage a team won’t always get you through the CV review stage for a managerial post. Explaining how many people you manage, and what types of people you manage is far more likely to secure you an interview if it’s relevant for the role (and if it isn’t relevant you’ve saved yourself a wasted interview for a role you wouldn’t have got anyway!)

Give the right information

Obviously a potential employer will want to know where you’ve worked, how long you were there and what you did. Going the extra mile here can make a big difference to your chances, but it is also easy. A simple sentence explain what the company does, and how big it is will enable the reader to quickly understand the types of companies and industries you’ve worked in (of course, if they are relevant really make these stand out).

A good explanation of your role will include a short paragraph with an overview of what your position was, a handful of bullet points about your daily responsibilities, and a couple of key achievements (remember, back up facts with details).

By using these tips, your CV will create a great first impression and will make you more likely to secure an interview for your dream job!

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