How to write a CV that employers will love

Updated on 15 July 2019 | 0 Comments

When the time comes to update your CV, there are a million other things you’d rather do. Unfortunately, perfecting your CV is necessary if you want to land your dream job.

As a recent graduate looking for a job, I have updated my CV at least a hundred times in the past few months, giving me a fair amount of experience as to what employers want to see, and what they don’t.

Over the last few months, I have picked up a few nuggets of wisdom to share on how to make updating your CV a lot less painful.

Show and tell

There are loads of different ways you can design your CV.

It often depends on the kind of job you’re applying for, but your CV can be a great way to show your employer what you can do.

For example, if you use software such as InDesign, you can use this to jazz up your CV.

This will not only reveal you can use InDesign, but also show off your skills.

Showing your skills may prove to employers that you are creative, forward thinking and different from other ambitious graduates.

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Notes and coins with a tiny mortarboard on top. (Image: Shutterstock)

Think visual

If your CV looks like a shopping list, then chances are it’s not going to catch an employer’s eye.

There are some rather scary stats revealing employers only spend about six seconds looking at each CV, according to a study by TheLadders.

If you have an eye-catching CV, chances are employers will be keener to spend their valuable time reading about what you have to offer.

While using a font that is professional (but not generic), always helps, you could add other eye-catching features to your CV.

For example, you could mix up the traditional structure, add some colour and even a professional picture of yourself (if you’re feeling brave).

Examples of quirky CV templates can be found at sites such as VisualCV.

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It may seem obvious, but you should be honest on your CV.

Not only do you not want to mislead a potential employer, you also don’t want to be caught out later.

It’s a common belief that everyone fibs on their CV, but it’s never a good idea.

I once knew someone who put on their CV that they could speak fluent German (big lie).

When it came to her getting the job and being asked to interview a client who only spoke German, you can guess how that went down.

Tailor your CV

So, honesty is always the best policy, but there is no harm in tailoring your CV when you can.

For example, when recently applying for a few writing jobs, I included my previous experience as a company ambassador.

While this doesn’t seem relevant, I wrote a few blog posts for the company over several years, making it valuable writing experience.

CV templates. (Image: VisualCV)

Check your errors

Again, this sounds obvious, but spell things correctly.

The first draft of my CV was so bad in terms of spelling and grammar that it would be questionable whether an adult had written it at all.

The only way to ensure that there are no mistakes whatsoever is to take the time to read it over carefully. It may be dull, but it’s important.

Taking a break from looking at it for a day or so also lessens the chance of you missing mistakes that you didn’t know where there. Take your time.

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Short and sweet

Although it’s difficult when you have a lot of experience, most employers love a one-page CV.

Try your best to fit everything onto one page by considering a smaller font size and including only relevant experience. 

It’s a fact of life that people lose concentration rather quickly, so shorter is always better when you’re hoping to grab the attention of the employer reading your CV.

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Be consistent

While making your CV look good is important, make sure you’re consistent with fonts and sizes.

If you get a bit too excited with making it look snazzy, you may run the risk of making it look unprofessional.

Woman working on laptop. (Image: Shutterstock)

Meet the job specifications

It is really tempting to just make one generic CV and fire it off to lots of employers.

But this lessens the chance of you getting a call back as you haven’t tailored your CV to the job you’re applying for.

When applying for a job, read the requirements for the role and make your CV address these specifications.

Instead of listing your skills, show how those skills would fit the role. 

Also, if there are any other requirements to avoid your application being written off without it even being looked at, make sure you meet them. 

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Don’t reveal your whole life story

When I first started thinking about updating my CV for graduate jobs, I wanted to put every single bit of work I’d ever done on there.

But I realised if I was going to apply for journalist jobs, employers don’t care if I worked at a kitchenware store when I was 16, or that I did admin work in a hospital.

When it comes to applying for graduate jobs, listing your whole set of GCSEs usually isn’t relevant either.

Put what is relevant and nothing more.

Believe in yourself

Cheesy as it is, if you’re updating your CV with a ‘no can do’ attitude, it may rub off on your application. Think about your accomplishments.

If you believe you are the best person for the job, then show employers what you can offer and what you can bring to the position.

If you want more tips, these are other links that may be able to help:

Totaljobs: 10 steps to a successful CV

BBC: How to write a successful CV

VisualCV resume builder


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