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Top 10 tips for writing a good CV
As recruitment experts, we see A LOT of CV’s. Some of these CV’s are excellently written, with a clear structure and tell us all we need to know about the candidate. Others are not so great and fail to sell the candidate to us, despite them sometimes being a very skilful worker.
We know that CV writing is really difficult, but it’s also really important being your first opportunity as a candidate to stand out from everyone else!
So, to help you write a good CV, we have pulled together our top 10 tips on how to write a good CV.
Get the basics right
There is no right or wrong way to write a CV but there are some common sections you should cover.
Presentation is key
A successful CV is always carefully and clearly presented, and printed on clean, crisp white paper.
The layout should always be clean and well-structured and CVs should never be crumpled. Always remember the CV hotspot – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter's eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there.
Try and stick to two or three pages of A4
A good CV is concise - too many words cause a reader to skip and they might skip something of important.
Employers receive dozens of CVs all the time so it's unlikely they'll read each one cover to cover. Most will make a judgment about a CV within sections, so try and stick to a maximum of two pages of A4 paper.
Understand the job description
The clues are in the job application, so read the details, take notes and create bullet points, highlighting everything you can satisfy and all the bits you can't.
With the areas where you're lacking, fill in the blanks by adapting the skills you do have.
For example, if the job in question requires someone with sales experience, there's nothing stopping you from using any retail work you've undertaken – even if it was something to help pay the bills through university. It will demonstrate the skills you do have and show how they're transferable.
Tailor the CV to the role
When you've established what the job entails and how you can match each requirement, tailor your CV for that role.
Remember, there is no such thing as a generic CV. Every CV you send to a potential employee should be tailored to that role.
Create a unique CV for every job you apply for. You don't have to re-write the whole thing, just adapt the details so they're relevant.
Making the most of skills
Under the skills section of your CV don't forget to mention key skills that can help you to stand out from the crowd.
These could include: communication skills; computer skills; team working; problem solving or even speaking a foreign language.
Skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so really think about what you've done to grow your own skills, even if you take examples from being in a local sports team or joining a voluntary group – it's all relevant.
Making the most of interests
Under interests, highlight the things that show off skills you've gained and employers look for.
Describe any examples of positions of responsibility, working in a team or anything that shows you can use your own initiative.
Include anything that shows how diverse, interested and skilled you are. Make yourself sound really interesting.
Making the most of experience
Use assertive and positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as "developed", "organised" or "achieved".
Try to relate the skills you have learned to the job role you're applying for. For example: "The work experience involved working in a team," or "This position involved planning, organisation and leadership as I was responsible for a team of people".
Keep your CV updated
It's crucial to review your CV on a regular basis and add any new skills or experience that's missing.
For example, if you've just done some volunteering or worked on a new project, make sure that information is added to your c.v. – Potential employers are always impressed with candidates who go the extra mile to boost their own skills and experience.
You don’t need to include references on your c.v. but if you do, try and include two.
References should be from someone who has employed you in the past and can vouch for your skills and experience. However, if you've never worked before you're OK to use a teacher, tutor or a family friend that is in business.
If you need some more help, why not try using our make a CV tool.