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CV Writing - Tips for Success

Your curriculum vitae, which is Latin for ‘course of life’ and more commonly known simply as a CV, is a vital part of your armoury when it comes to finding a job or moving onwards and upwards to a new dream position.

It provides a summary of your key skills, qualities and experience and should highlight to a potential employer why you are the best person for the job.

You may be aware of the fact that most employers spend very little time looking at a CV; one study used eye-tracking software to find that recruiters can make a decision in just 7.4 seconds!

You might think that means you don’t have to spend hours meticulously compiling your CV, but the fact is that most of those quick assessments end up on the rejection pile.

If you want to progress to the interview stage and beyond you need to catch the attention, present the key information in a well-presented, easy to scan format and avoid glaring errors that can see a recruiter hitting ‘delete’ in a hurry.

It’s important to get it right so here are some tips for writing a good CV…


Keep it brief

When an employer might only spend seconds looking at your CV, it’s important to keep it snappy and to the point. Don’t tell your whole life story – this is more an elevator pitch of your skills and experiences designed to catch the attention and show why you are the right person for the job.

Even if you have a wealth of experience and qualifications, a huge wall of text will be off-putting. Most recruiters suggest that a CV should be no more than two pages of A4 or the equivalent size for a digital document.


Tailor your CV for the role

This tip applies particularly to cover letters but you should also make sure your CV is tailored to target the employer and the specifications for the role you are applying for.

That doesn’t mean you have to create a whole new CV for each application, especially if you are sending out dozens at a time, but you can tweak each one to emphasise certain skills or experiences.


Keep it current – and accurate

Your CV should cover everything up to the current date and it can be useful to keep a

CV up to date, even when you are not actively looking for a job. That can ensure you don’t forget to include any important achievements or experiences. Gaps in your CV are an immediate red flag so fill in the blanks, even if you were travelling or struggling to find employment.

You may be able to put a positive spin on this, especially if you volunteered or undertook training of some sort. And finally, try to resist the urge to embellish and especially to outright lie on your CV.

This could come back to bite you if you are caught out at the interview stage or, even worse, if you land the job and then subsequently lose it for dishonesty.


Check it…and check it again

An important part of how to write a good CV is simply making sure there are no glaring errors. Spellcheck is your friend here but don’t rely on it as it might not pick up contextual errors or elements such as technical terms and abbreviations. Professional CV writing is dependent on thorough proofreading.


What to include in your CV

When it comes to CV writing, there are no absolute right answers. A software developer’s CV will look quite different to an artist’s or a public relations practitioner. You might want to use different types of writing depending on the job but there are still some common elements that a recruiter will expect to see.

These include personal details, a personal statement, your experience and employment history, education and qualifications. You might also want to flag up key skills and hobbies and interests. It’s probably best to avoid non-relevant or common interests like reading or film, however.


Contact and personal details

Keep it succinct but provide clear contact details including your full name, phone number and email. Make sure your email sounds sensible and professional – that funny, offensive or plain cringey address that you’ve had since you were 13 with all the Xxx’s probably won’t give off the right vibe!


Writing a personal statement

This is an important element of the CV but should still be no more than a short paragraph, detailing key points about you and why you are right for the job. This can definitely vary widely depending on the role and is one area that you should definitely tailor for the recipient.


Experience and employment history

The usual form is reverse chronological order, so your current or last position is at the top. You should provide details of your entire employment history – as already mentioned, leaving gaps always looks bad – but you can certainly emphasise your experiences in sectors relevant to the job at hand. As well as dates and names of employers, you can use this section to flag up key responsibilities and achievements.


Education and qualifications

Again, this should usually be given in reverse chronological order, including any professional qualifications and major training along with degrees, A-levels, vocational qualifications, GCSEs and equivalents.

When it comes to including references, you should only do this on your job CV if requested by the recruiter. You will generally be asked to provide references before being offered a job but that is a little further down the line.

Learning how to write a good CV will not guarantee you get the job, of course. Your experience, qualifications and suitability for the role are all key but your curriculum vitae plays a vital part in communicating these to to the recruiter.

It doesn’t matter if you are the perfect person for the job if you never make it to the interview stage because your CV doesn’t hit the right note.

Get your CV right from the start and you can make a great first impression, which is an important step to securing that dream role.

Amanda Wright | Wed 28th Apr 2021


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Amanda Wright Rec to Rec - Recruitment Specialists for the Recruitment Industry, specialising in recruitment to recruitment. © 2021 Amandawright rec to rec recruitment consultants