Writing a CV can be a tricky task. We all know that a CV should take up no more than 2 A4 sides; but how do you create a punchy, effective CV, in no more than two sides, which will stand out over the hundreds of other CVs a recruiter might receive for a role?
The most important thing is to tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for. ‘One size fits all’ is never the best approach. Read the job ad and job description, consider them carefully and note down what the employer is looking for and the skills and experience that help you to meet those requirements.
Then break your CV down into sections and tackle each section separately – this will help to make the task less overwhelming. Once you’ve written the CV, give yourself a few hours before re-reading and making any amendments. Check it over carefully for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Ideally, ask a colleague or friend to check it, too.
A great CV needs to include the following 7 sections:
Here, we look at what to include in the different sections of your CV to really make you stand out from the crowd .
Include your name, telephone number and email address. Nothing else is necessary. Avoid including your date of birth and postal address – the recruiter doesn’t need this information, and you’ll avoid any discrimination that could occur. Make sure your email address is professional and won’t put employers off! Chubbymonkey@yahoo.com, for example, might not create the impression you want…
Your profile is the introduction to you, and should take up no more than 5-7 lines. This is arguably the most important part of your CV – a bad introduction will mean the employer may not continue reading. Think of your profile as though it were the blurb on the back of a book. If the blurb is good, you’ll buy the book. If it isn’t, you won’t.
This is your chance to demonstrate the skills and experience you have which will make you suitable for the job you’re applying for.
Things to include:
This is your opportunity to expand on the skills you’ve mentioned in your ‘Profile’. Don’t repeat the skills from your Profile – include other skills and qualifications that are relevant to the role. Use positive, descriptive words and use bullet points.Provide clarity or evidence when required. For example: ‘IT skills’ would be better explained as: ‘Proficient in ICT including Microsoft Word and Excel’. ‘Excellent sales ability’ would be better explained as: ‘Excellent sales record hitting 119% of target with Window Sales Ltd’.
Here you should include, working back from the present, your work history. Don’t just include the company, job title, and when you worked there. Also include a brief description of your achievements (list these first) and responsibilities. Use your employment history to back-up the skills you’ve listed that you have.
As a rule, if you have been working for some time, you should show an employment history of no more than 10 years.
Think about education and training that is relevant to the role. Academic qualifications such as GCSEs are, of course, important. However, so is any professional development or on the job training. For example, a first aid certificate, a fork lift licence, a CSCS card, or any training you have done on the job.
You don’t have to include a section about your interests, but including them could give the recruiter a well-rounded view of your personality. Be careful here, though – make sure anything you write isn’t controversial, and is interesting or useful/relevant to the job. For example, avoid referencing politics or religion, or mentioning TV watching as a hobby. But if you’re into a sport, or have a keen interest in travelling, you might like to mention it.
Finally, add the note ‘References are available on request’.
You don’t need to provide details of your referees at application stage; and actually this can be problematic if you’re potentially looking to leave your current employer. Recruiters understand that applicants may not want to hand out referees’ details in their CV; plus it’s a waste of valuable space which you could be using to talk about your attributes and experience!
Once you’ve successfully been invited for interview, read our tips on Preparing for a Job Interview.
The National Careers Service offers free, professional, impartial information, advice and guidance to all citizens aged over 13 in England. The National Careers Service can be contacted via the helpline, 0800 100 900, which is available from 8:00am to 10:00pm, seven days a week, or via webchat.