How to write the perfect CV
Are you looking for a new job? Here's how to write the perfect CV.
If you hate your current job, or you’re worried about being made redundant, then why not take action sooner rather than later?
First and foremost, you’ll need a CV that effectively highlights all your skills, talents and abilities. So here’s how to sell yourself to your future employer - before you’ve even met:
Essentially, your CV should be clear, relevant and demonstrate that you’re right for the job role described.
There are many different theories on CV layout and design, but as long as you stick within these parameters, you can choose whichever you feel most comfortable with.
If you don’t know where to start, here’s a clear, common, and easy-to-read layout:
- Start off with your name, address and contact details clearly listed at the top of the page. Many employers now respond to applicants by email, so remember to include this as well as your postal and telephone details.
- Then add a profile of yourself - basically a ‘professional me’ paragraph which outlines relevant skills, experience and career goals.
- After this comes your career history - starting with the most recent. This is the place to add brief descriptions of your responsibilities and achievements in each post (bullet points are a good way of getting a lot of information into a few words).
- Next come your educational history and qualifications (back as far as your GCSEs but no further) together with any additional skills, like computer literacy, foreign languages and the ability to drive.
- Finally, add a concise paragraph outlining your other interests and achievements - anything from sky diving to bird watching.
Just bear in mind you don’t need to include references (an employer can ask for them at a later date).
Neither do you need to add salary details or expectations, marital status, whether you have children, or a photo of yourself.
When I left university, I remember being told to keep my CV to a single page. That was easy at the time (not having much to put on it) but would be impossible now.
In fact, the length of your CV should be determined by what needs to go on it (within reason, of course!).
Two-page CVs are usually considered perfectly acceptable, and are certainly better than too much text all crammed onto a single sheet.
In a nutshell, you need to strike a balance between your CV being clear and boring, and elaborate but unreadable. Here are some style tips to point you in the right direction:
- It needs to grab the employer’s attention immediately. Research suggests that if it doesn’t do this in the first five seconds, it’s likely to go in the bin.
- When printing it off use good quality, fine-grained A4 paper. It’ll look much more professional and so the pricier paper should prove a good investment.
- Choose a clear, attractive font. Avoid anything too ‘twiddly’, and make sure it stays consistent throughout.
- Ration yourself when it comes to bolding and underlining text. Too much of either (or both together) just comes across as ‘shouty’.
However, do make sure each section is clearly labeled with an appropriate heading.
- Cover letter aside, don’t attach extra documents (like references or certificates). They just clutter up the application and can be brought along at the interview instead.
Grammar and vocabulary
Always write in the third person, and in the past tense: It sounds more concise and professional.
According to Reed recruitment network, the vocabulary you use can make a huge difference. Essentially, you should describe yourself in terms that make you sound positive and proactive.
Try and get a few of these positive expressions in:
And when outlining your previous experience and responsibilities, consider using a couple of these:
Needless to say, don’t go over the top. If every second word of your personal profile is one of the above, you’ll come across as completely fake (and a bit of a plonker).
Tell the truth and seek advice
It may be tempting to merge two previous jobs together to disguise that employment gap, but don’t do it. Most employers carry out extensive employee checks - and the chances of lies staying undetected are slim.
In the same vein, now’s the time to get those incriminating photos off Facebook and ‘Google’ yourself.
Better you find that embarrassing snap now than your potential boss does when he’s got your CV in front of him!
Finally, get a friend to read over your CV before you send it off. Then he or she can hunt down that renegade typo before it undoes all your hard word.
This is a classic lovemoney article that has been updated