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How to write a CV

Updated: Feb 13

We’ve made it quick and convenient for you to write, edit and amend your CV from anywhere. In this blog post, we’ll share the ways you can write a winning CV for your dream job.



Free CV Template - with comments
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Writing your CV: Where to start

We know writing a CV can be a challenging task, but knowing who you're writing it for is the first thing to consider. Every CV should be tailored to the specific employer you are applying to i.e. do not rely on sending the same CV to multiple employers because they all operate in the same sector or industry.


And because there is no one-size-fits-all perfect CV, it must be tailored appropriately to allow prospective employers or recruiters to scan quickly and pick up the relevant information to make you stand out. To do this, there are some basic formatting guidelines such as font types and sizes, CV length (2 pages ideally), layout, sections, etc.


Below, is some basic guidance on writing a CV.


What information should be on my CV


Personal details

While seemingly obvious, your name and contact information should be the first thing an employer sees on your CV. Always at the top, in bold and possibly a little larger that the rest of the CV should be your full name, contact telephone number, email address and your location.


*Tip: email addresses should always be professional, not your old school email you've been using for years and has a funny or inappropriate handle like sexybeast69@xxxx.com or funkyjoker@xxxx.co.uk. Make up a new email address that sounds professional, ideally with your name included. If you need help creating a new email address, try using the following:

  • gmail

  • yahoo

  • outlook

  • mail.com

*Tip: your location need only be your city and the first part of your postcode e.g. London, SW6. The reason for this is to let the employer/recruiter know how close you are to the potential job role. It gives an idea of how near or far you are to the opportunity as long commutes and travelling to work may present an issue with your timekeeping and reliability. By only including the first part of your postcode potential identity thieves who may access your information cannot pinpoint your location and employer can find this out later if and when you are successful for the role.


Personal Statement

As it’s the first thing that’s shown on your CV, a personal statement is an essential part of standing out from the crowd. It explains who you are, what you’re offering, and what you’re looking for. Aim to prove why you’re suitable in one short and succinct paragraph.


Key Skills

Your key skills should be only the skills you have gained over time from your previous work or life experience that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Highlighting these allow the employer to quickly narrow you down from a pile of CVs to a potential candidate as you have quickly and clearly pointed out the key skills you have for the specific role. These can be laid out in a few bullet points.


Work Experience/History

This section should include all of your relevant work experience, listed with the most recent first. Include your job title, the name of the organisation, time in post, and your key responsibilities.


Key Achievements

As with key skills, this is where you can include a line or two about key impact you have had in your work history or career. Use it as an opportunity to emphasise how the skills and experience you have developed (using real examples) make you a perfect fit for the role.


Education

Your educational experience and achievements should be listed here, along with dates, the type of qualification and/or the grade you achieved – although the specific parts of education that you include in your CV will depend on your individual situation. For example, if you have more educational achievements than work experience, placing an emphasis on this section is a good idea. Also, keep all educational achievements to within the last ten years as anything older is likely obsolete and out-of-date.


Hobbies and Interests

You don’t always need to include hobbies and interests in your CV, but mentioning relevant ones could back up your skills and help you to stand out from the crowd – not to mention give you something to talk about at an interview. Just don’t say you enjoy socialising with friends just for the sake of including something. If it’s not going to add value, leave it out.


Any extra information, such as reasons for a career change or reasons for gaps in career history should also be included as required.


What words should I include in my CV?

Figuring out what words to use on your CV can be tough – especially when you’re trying to fit a lot of skills and experience into a short document. Easiest way to identify key words is to look at the job description and person specification from the job advert. You can make a list of the key words from there or from researching the company and see how they describe themselves or their staff. Appropriate keywords for your CV could include:

  • Accurate

  • Adaptable

  • Confident

  • Hard-working

  • Innovative

  • Pro-active

  • Reliable

  • Responsible

In addition to using the right words, you should also back up your attributes up with genuine accomplishments. Not only will you stand out from others with identical skills, you’ll also be able to prove your suitability more effectively. After all, anyone can say they’re hard-working – but not everyone can prove it.


Presentation of your CV

Your CV is the first thing an employer will see when hiring for a vacancy, and how it looks at first glance will be the reason they decide to read it in more detail. Even if your skills match the role perfectly, a messy and confusing CV probably won’t even get a second look.

To ensure you’re painting yourself (and your skills) in the best light, you should always:

  • Keep it short and succinct – two sides of A4 will almost always suffice.

  • Choose a clear, professional font to ensure that your CV can be easily read (Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana are all easy to read and common fonts in many word processing IT packages). Font sizes 10-12 are also ideal for clarity to the reader

  • Lay it out in a logical order, with sufficient spacing and clear section headings (e.g. Work experience, Education)

  • Order your experience and education in reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent experience and achievements

  • Check your grammar and spelling thoroughly

Final thoughts

Once you’ve put together your CV – don’t assume it’s finished. Every job is different and tailoring your CV accordingly is vital to standing out. Edit it in line with the job description whenever you make an application, and you’ll be able to ensure it matches the specifications every time.


Highlight that you’re the right match for the job by outlining:

  • The specific skills you have to offer the employer

  • Relevant accomplishments and achievements

  • The work and educational experience you have in their field

  • Personal qualities that will make you right for the role

  • An understanding of the job requirements

See below for example templates for common roles, sectors and varying levels of experience:

  • Admin

  • Cleaning

  • Warehouse Operative

  • Management

  • Supervisor

  • Graduate

  • Long term unemployed


Need more CV advice?

It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.

To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, contact us for a free consultation on writing a winning CV and effective job broking.

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