Tips for writing your CV

Writing your CV can be a challenge if you want it to catch a potential employer’s eye. Most of the time employers will quickly scan through the skills and knowledge section and then decide whether to keep it for further perusal or not; this is why it’s imperative that you tailor your CV for each individual job post you apply for.

It will likely to be scrutinized by employers, so it needs to be clean and properly presented to help you stand out amongst the masses and catch their eye. Make sure you showcase the most relevant skills and experiences to the job post so as to demonstrate to the employer that you’re perfect for the role.

Your CV could be the thing that gets you the initial interview so you need to ensure that it’s taken seriously and put into the ‘YES’ tray, rather than put in the ‘NO’ tray!

CV writing guide:

Check out or tips section below for some handy pointers on writing the perfect CV…

Sections to cover: Your CV should include the following information: personal and contact information, education and qualifications, employment history, any skills that are relevant to the post you’re applying for, previous employer references. You can also if you like include some of the following: hobbies and interests, achievements. If you do decide to include any of the latter, try to make them relevant to the post for which you’re applying.

Tailoring: Stop sending out hundreds of copies of the same generic CV! Every job is unique and your CV should, by definition also be unique to the job you’re applying for. Once you have a job in mind, you should tailor the skills and knowledge in your CV to match up with the skills and knowledge required for that particular position. Work out exactly what criteria the employer needs to be made aware of and make this clear in bullet points; this will put you in good standing for the role and should increase your chances of getting an interview. Note that you do not need to completely rewrite your CV for each post, just adapt the key skills that are relevant to that particular job post.

Covering Letters: The good thing about a covering letter is that it allows you to go into more detail when talking about your suitability for the role, especially in regards to any examples that you have put on your CV that match up to the job spec requirements. This also gives you a chance to write in sentences (which can show that you write well) instead of bullet points.

Contact Details: It seems that one of the most basic requirements of a CV is one of the most forgotten; your contact details should appear on each page of your CV and on your covering letter if you’re including one. The reason for this is that often times these pages can become separated so you need to make sure that your pedigree information is always clearly and readily available to a potential employer. Things to include without exception are your full name, phone number and email address.

Add a personal statement: Think of something that makes you unique, otherwise don’t bother at all. Use this as an opportunity to explain why you are the perfect candidate for this position and tailor this to match with the jobs requirements.

Style, presentation and consistency: The style should be very clear, to the point, and if you can limit paragraphs and include more bullet points then all the better as these are easier to read. Try to keep the most important information just above the middle of the first page (this is where the employer’s eyes will go to first) and leave plenty of white space around each bullet point and category as this will make for a cleaner layout that’s easier to read. Your CV should also be consistent in regards to fonts etc. as this keeps the natural flow of the sentences and prevents the reader from becoming distracted or ‘taken out’ of the experience; a universal font that is commonly available like Times New Roman or Arial is always a safe bet. Never type in CAPITALS as this can look like you’re shouting, especially if your CV is being read digitally and always embolden headings so it’s clear where a new section begins. Lastly you should present your CV on a maximum of two A4 sheets, printed on one side only and avoid folding it (use an A4 envelope if you’re posting it).

Tell the truth: It can be tempting to tell little white lies on your CV in the hope of appearing to be a more impressive candidate , but this is not only morally wrong, it will make you look dishonest and possibly incompetent in one fell swoop as you should be trying to get the job based on your legitimate strengths. Bottom line; don’t do it! It can get you into trouble if you get the job and are found out (you could get fired), or be very embarrassing if you are found out at the interview stage and rejected based on your dishonesty.

Back yourself up: If you are going to state that you have great attention to detail, then your CV needs to be flawless to show that you have great attention to details. You will need to prove any statements with evidence; if you improved on the last quarter’s sales, then show your employer figures that back up your claims.

Be positive: Do not include anything negative on your CV and never bad mouth employers as this will just sabotage your chances of getting hired. You should only include positive points and information about yourself and your previous employers; you can include challenging times and projects, but only if you managed to turn them into solid results or a positive learning experience.

Fill it up: Try not to leave gaps in your CV. It’s not always easy to find work, but an employer will immediately assume that your time ‘off’ hasn’t been used productively unless you show them otherwise. Try to fill the employment gaps with productive things you have been doing, such as a course or project relating to your chosen vocation, some volunteer work etc. This will show that you took an opportunity to sit back and relax, and instead used it productively which will make you shine!

No mistakes: Make sure you check your work for spelling and grammar mistakes; a mistake could cost you the job as it will make you look sloppy and unprofessional. Print it out, read one word at time and mark any mistakes, making sure to read each word slowly out loud twice and then have a friend check the same. Your CV should be presented flawlessly as this will demonstrate your attention to detail, and that you are taking your job search seriously.

Interests: If you do choose to include these, then the key is to make yourself sound interesting so stay away from things like watching movies or listening to music. Interests that involve people skills or responsibility are far more likely to be relevant to the workplace as these are some of the skills employers’ desire when looking for candidates. Anything that required using your own initiative to achieve a goal, teaching a class at the weekend etc. could be relevant. Try to keep them relevant to the position you are applying for.

References: Try to include at least two references, primarily previous employers but if you are just leaving education then a teacher will be fine. Make sure you make your referees aware of your intention to use them and that they are happy to do so.

Keep your CV updated: You should keep your CV up to date at all times, whether you’re looking for a job or not. Review your CV every month and add in any significant experience you have gained; this will ensure it’s always up to date.

Keep at it: If you’re finding that your CV is not getting you the interest from employers, then you should review it and see if you are covering the points listed above; for example, is it relevant to the particular job you’re applying for? You should also be impersonal and ask yourself ‘would I interview me on the strength of my CV?’ Another option would be to seek advice from a career coach and have them check that your CV is correctly presented to get you the maximum interest possible. So stick at it and don’t be disheartened, take advice from others and make changes that are necessary to improve your chances of getting an interview.