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CV Advice

 
 
 

There is a lot of information out there advising how CVs should look and what they should contain. Here is a short guide to writing CVs and Covering Letters along with some general suggestions we would encourage you to follow.

Content:

  1. Your name, address, email address (a sensible one please!) and current telephone numbers.
  2. Career History?
  3. Qualifications – start with the highest level gained and those most relevant to the role you are applying for. If you have been in the workforce for twenty years or more, your work experience is likely to be more interesting to employers than your GCSE or O’ level results. Stick to vocational qualifications and degrees and list them at the end of the CV, rather than the beginning.
  4. Include IT skills such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, SAGE, etc.
  5. If you are new to the workforce, include any organisations (such as Guides / Scouts, etc.,) voluntary work or work experience placements that have helped to build and develop your hard and soft skill sets.
  6. Include a short sentence about each company you have worked for to give the recruiter / HR Manager context.
  7. Use bullet points to highlight your key achievements to help them stand out.
  8. References: use recent contacts as these are most relevant to your current skills and experience. Do not add referees to your CV unless you are ready for them to be contacted!

 

 

Covering Letters:

  1. These should be tailored to each job you apply for as generic statements are less effective. Be sure to include the title of the role for which you are applying.
  2. Make your personal statement about why this is the right role and the right company for you, highlighting why and how you could contribute positively to the company’s goals.
  3. Do NOT simply regurgitate the information on your CV: Covering Letters should provide additional information to supplement that in your CV . It’s also the place to provide explanations such as why you’ve applied for a job 200 miles away from your current address (i.e. you’re relocating to the area next week – if you don’t tell them, they don’t know and might think you’ve applied for the wrong job!)
  4. Keep it short – two to four paragraphs are usually enough to get your point across.
  5. Be careful! If your Covering Letter is below par, it will decrease the chances of the employer reading your CV – so make sure it is purposeful! Always give the employer a reason to want to know more!

 

 

Suggestions:

  1. Make sure the content is clearly laid out, in a simple format and without distractions.
  2. Use Microsoft Word to write it.
  3. Use a simple, reader-friendly font such as Calibri, Verdana or Helvetica to make it easier for the recruiter / HR Manager to read.
  4. Keep it short: 2-3 sides of A4 maximum.
  5. Tailor your CV according to the role you are applying for, using the job description as a guide. This is especially true for any personal statement you choose to include.
  6. Keep the content relevant to the role and ensure it accurately reflects your skills and experience.
  7. The longer ago the job, the less interesting it is to the recruiter / HR Manager / employer. Start with your most recent experience and work in reverse order. Include less detail for older jobs to help keep the CV brief.
  8. Use ‘achieving’ language rather than ‘doing’ language. For example:

“I was responsible for managing the stationery budget of £1000 per quarter” isn’t as impressive as “I saved £100 per quarter on our stationery budget of £1000 by sourcing an alternative paper supplier”

  1. Always get a friend or relative who has good written communication skills to read your CV and Covering Letter, checking for the spelling and grammatical errors a spell-checker might have missed.
  2. Avoid the temptation to express negativity about previous employers, no matter how awful your experience may have been. A prospective employer has no point of reference against which to assess your complaint.

 

 

Need a CV template?

If you need a framework to get started on writing your CV, here's our “example” format for you to download.