There are many different views on the best way to write a CV. But there is no one right answer. With some general pointers, you can make your CV much more effective, and increase your chances of being selected for interview. Remember, your CV is essentially a marketing document. First impressions count, and it is the first sight of you by a prospective employer.
So, How Can You Make Your CV More Effective?
The CV is an advert about you – this is what an employer will look at to decide whether or not to offer you an interview. So what should it contain?
- Your name – obvious but it has been known to be left out!
- Your address, current phone numbers (mobile etc.) and email address (Make sure it’s not a rude one!) You could create a new one especially to use with your CV.
- If you want to use a personal profile statement remember that if you write that you would like to be an IT Manager and then apply for an admin role, an employer may feel you are just using the job as a stop gap. Either change it for each job or make the personal statement generic.
- If you are young and looking for that first step on the ladder you will probably want to put qualifications next. Keep it short and sweet. No one needs to know which primary school you went to – it’s just not relevant!
- If you are slightly older your GCSE or O-Level results are likely to be insignificant against your wealth of work experience. Only provide details of any professional qualifications & degrees. You can always supply other information if requested. Also your career history is more important that qualifications so place these closer to the top of your CV with qualifications nearer the end.
- Career summary – Always with current, or most recent, at the top and oldest at the bottom, and always use bullet points to keep things clear and concise.
- Write a short sentence about the company you worked for – it helps the employer put things in context and remember, not everyone will have heard of the company, so state briefly what it did.
- If you are younger and looking for your first job or have had only one job to date you may find it useful to summarise any organisations you’ve been in (e.g. Guides/Scouts), work experience placements or voluntary work you have done. Think about the skills needed to do the type of jobs you’re applying for & make sure you include those.
- If you have an extensive career history really concentrate on the most recent 3-4 jobs, any others can be listed as role, company & dates. Employers want to know what you can do now, not what you did when you were 16!
- Employers want to hear from your last couple of jobs – not a reference from 10 years ago, however great it is. If there is someone specific you would like them to contact add them with full contact details and outline which role they are relevant to.
- Don’t add referees if you don’t want them to be contacted before you have even got to interview! If you give the details of your current manager a recruiter may feel you have given them permission to contact them before they have even seen you in an interview. “References available on request” is a much better way – this way they need to contact you to get the information!
General rules of CV writing:
- Always, always, always get someone who is good at writing to read your CV. While spell-check can be your best friend it won’t necessarily be able to pick up wrong words that are correctly spelled!
- Always write a cover letter – have a good generic one & change the title of the role you are applying for EVERYTIME!
- DON’T use your cover letter to regurgitate your CV. This should be used for information to demonstrate why you would fit the role (use the advert for reference). This is also the place to tell an employer any other relevant information, such as why you have applied for a job that’s 200 miles away! He or she is not to know that you are relocating to the area next week unless you tell them.
- Do not rail against any previous employer – no matter how awful the experience.
- It’s always handy to list IT skills – whether you are proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Photoshop, whether you know how to use Crystal Reports or SAGE.
- CVs should ideally be 2-3 pages long MAXIMUM. Anything over that risks not being read by the employer.
Need a CV Template?
We have included our own “example” format for you to download if you could benefit from a framework. If you do already have your own CV format, and you feel it works, then there is no need to change it. A CV is a unique document about you – It will probably not benefit from looking the same as all the others!