How to Write a CV

Writing a CV can be a daunting process, especially if it isn't something that you've done before. Whatever you do, don't use CV Templates and don't copy and paste from CV samples or examples; your CV must to be unique to you, so looking at other CVs is good to generate ideas from, but don't copy or plagiarise other peoples’ work’ you could be asked questions that you can’t answer and it will become obvious to the interviewer and you application won’t be successful.

Not sure where to begin or what to include? Here’s some basic advice and information that will help guide you through the process.

Employers and recruiters are only looking for one thing: a document that convinces them that you have the skills necessary to fulfill the needs of their vacancy. Consequently, you have to make sure that your CV fulfills their criteria.

Your CV is the only tool you have to convince a prospective employer that you have the skills that they are looking for. This is why it is so important that you invest time, effort and thought into producing a competitive sales document. There are over 2 million people looking for work in the United Kingdom right now, so an effective CV must stand out from the crowd in order to be the one selected by recruiters.

A basic CV or Resume should include the following elements:

Personal Details: Add your name, address, email address and your telephone and mobile numbers. Do not add your age or date of birth, National Insurance number (think about identity theft!), or your photograph.

Profile: A short paragraph or a few bullet points about the key points of your work ethic, skills and/or achievements is usually a good introduction. Keep to the point and stick to the facts and don’t add unnecessary words or make it “chatty”.

Career History: List your employer details in a reverse chronological manner, i.e.: most recent first and start with the employer’s name, their market/business sector, very brief details of what they do and add a hyperlink to the employers’ names so the reader can click on the employers’ websites. Follow through the dates of your employment, your position/s and your duties and responsibilities. Use bullet points, remain factual and tailor your duties to compare positively with the job/s that you are applying for. Add achievements or points of merit with each job.

Education: In the same way you listed your employment history, list your education details, most recent first and work backwards. Give details of your academic and professional qualifications and add the grades that you achieved – obviously, the more mature you are, the less relevant grades will become; however, use your common sense and put yourself in the shoes of the employer and think about what they might be interested in knowing about you.

Skills, Talents and Special Abilities: This section can be used in lots of different ways, but is primarily used for highlighting specific skills, such as IT skills, academic skills that are being successfully used throughout the course of your job, specific professional skills and for skills that you want to highlight in order to tailor your CV to specific jobs.

Hobbies and Interests: Give some insight into your personality to help recruiters/potential employers decide if your personality will, on the face of it, fit in with potential colleagues and company culture. This gives a more rounded view of you and your driving factors.
References: You don’t need to add these, when an employer is interested they will ask you for them; however, it’s always a good idea to state that they are available upon request.

Dos and Don’ts:

The time and effort that is invested in making your CV an effective sales brochure for your skills and qualities will be rewarded; however, gimmicky effects, coloured backgrounds and pictures means it will take longer to download your CV and that means you’ve lost your chance to impress.

Keep the layout of your CV simple and easy to read. Use an open modern font. School leavers and graduates CV’s really shouldn’t exceed more than one page. More mature or senior candidates CV’s will lengthen naturally over time, and a three page CV is not uncommon, but try to keep it down to two pages; the cardinal rule is not to waffle and to stick rigorously to the facts.

Do check for spelling errors, although some spelling errors aren’t actually mistakes, it’s the difference between your CV making a good impact or ending up in the bin. Remember to make sure that the default language setting is set correctly: English UK or English US.

Do make sure your grammar is correct; however, there is a difference between making a statement and constructing a proper sentence and in a CV, there may be some wavy green lines that you can’t get rid of.

Do let a good friend, or even a recruiter, look over your CV before you finalise it; a second opinion is good as it will help you keep objectivity on your horizon.

Don’t use fancy backgrounds or fancy margins – simple is more effective.

Don’t use huge font sizes, it makes the document longer than it should be; a pitch of anywhere between 10 and 12 is fine for paragraphs; headings should be between 12 and 14 pitch. Your name shouldn’t be greater than a 20 pitch, but make sure your contact details are 12 pitch so it’s obvious to the reader – on the top of the first page – not at the bottom of the last page.

Don’t add your photograph (unless it is a legal requirement of the country in which you live or work), whilst it’s essential in some other counties, it isn’t required in the United kingdom and if the reader doesn’t like the way you look, then your CV will be filed in the wastepaper bin.

Don’t abbreviate, you might understand what you are talking about, but the reader may not.

Don’t use long paragraphs, instead use bullet points; long sentences have a horrible way of meandering without making their point.
These are the basic rules for writing a CV and they apply regardless of your job level. Ultimately, its what your CV says that will sway recruiters/employers to interview you.

CV Wizards provides a refreshing full consultancy CV writing service for all levels of the employment market from school leavers to CEO’s.