Getting your CV right is pretty important if you want a recruiter/agency/employer to take your CV seriously. I worked as a careers adviser here in London for around nine years so I saw thousands of CVs, most of them you could tell very little effort went into them! When I came to the UK my CV was nine pages long! Thankfully now it falls into a safe 1-2 pages.
Everybody will have their own ideas and expert tips on how to make a CV – some advice is better than others. All we advise is that you read the job description before sending in an application and if you need help, contact any of the agencies we have collected for you 🙂
Here are a few notes and tips to assist you with creating a good CV. Remember, no CV is perfect!
A CV has one function, to get you an interview. It needs to be more interesting than another person’s CV as you will be competing with a lot of people for the job. It has to show the facts behind why YOU should get the advertised job. This is the reason why you shouldn’t send the same CV out for every job – it doesn’t have to take too long to update your CV for every job that you apply for.
It’s far better to send out a dozen great, well thought out CVs than it is to send out 100 of the same CVs. You get results when you put effort in. If you spend 10 seconds sending a CV it’s quite likely whoever looks at your CV will take 10 seconds to see it doesn’t match the job properly.
Always have the job advertisement beside you when you write your CV up. This is the best reference you will have and then you can use it to match your CV up with the job. Find the key words in adverb or job description and ensure they are on your CV. If an advertisement asks for a skill or experience and you have it – put it in!
Your CV should only be maximum 2 pages long. An employer doesn’t spend large amounts of time looking at CVs and if your CV is too long or it’s unclear then it may be ignored.
Keep in mind who reads your CV. Is it a Chief Executive? Probably not. It could be any person within an organisation from a receptionist right to the top of the company. So keep it simple so that everybody can pick up your CV and read it.
There is no need to add your marital status, gender, date of birth, nationality or even your address on your CV (especially if you live far away from the advertised job).
Be consistent with the font, use simple and easy to read layout. Use bigger font / bold for headings and bullet points.
A personal profile should be around 3 – 5 sentences long. It should show that you understand the job description and can do the job. Your profile should show that you have read the advertisement, understand what kind of person they are looking for, and that you have and experience needed to do the job. Your profile will need to be changed for every job that you apply for!
Avoid using the phrases “hard working”, ‘’enthusiastic’’, ‘’team player’’ as everybody writes it and it doesn’t mean anything.
A personal profile example (for a Customer Service role)
Having worked in Customer Service for over 5 years, I am comfortable with dealing with customers both face to face and over the phone. I am confident with all Microsoft applications and I am a quick learner of office computer programmes. I am seeking a job at this company because I enjoy the challenges that a customer service job has on a day to day basis.
As you can see, the above example doesn’t waste time with listing how great you are, but that you naturally fit into the job well. The advert asked for people with experience in varied roles in customer service, IT skills and good communication skills so this profile simply shows it.
Key skills are your own skills that match up to the job that is advertised. You should avoid writing lists but instead say WHY you have these skills by giving some examples.
• Good communication skills gained from teaching children and dealing with parents tactfully and diplomatically.
• Up to date IT Skills: proficient user of Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint
• Excellent sales skills, achieved over £1.5m in sales for previous company, never missed a target and helped sales team achieve over 15% of target within the financial year.
If they are advertising for people with good IT skills, experience or anything specific, you need to add it. If the advert doesn’t say much about the skills research the job profile on the National Career Service page
This part shows that you have the necessary experience to do the job. Put most current jobs (including voluntary work) first and work backwards. No need to describe more than your 5 previous jobs or 10 years work experience unless you really have to. They don’t want to know about your paper round 20 years ago.
Use bullet points to describe your previous job roles. Look at the job advertisement and see what sort of experience they are looking for and add what you have done in your previous job that will match that experience. Keep it relevant. Use ACTION WORDS as they create a strong impression of achievement, ability, activity & clearly communicate your contribution to the job.
Examples: sold, delivered, developed, improved, negotiated.
Rather than write: I was a member of our course committee, you could write I was elected to course committee and represented student views to senior staff.
Administrative Assistant ABC LTD 2006 – 2010
• Provided general secretarial and administrative support to all departments
• Organised internal and external meetings, travel itineraries, professional lunches and events
• Responded to customers email and telephone inquiries
If you have a degree put it here. If you have equivalent qualifications then add them here too. Don’t add primary school, GCSEs and grades unless they specifically ask for it. If you did not complete education or you do not want to add your education, you don’t need to. Instead the next section will be more useful for you as you will be able to add all your relevant skills which in many cases are more important than formal education.
Additional Skills & Training
Many people attend workshops or short courses that are directly related to your job, for example health and safety courses. If relevant, add it to your CV. Even that half day seminar you attended and almost fell asleep in can be useful on your CV, but only if it is relevant.
Many people get worried about what to put as “interests”. Don’t be concerned as this isn’t as important as you may think. Some employers see interests as proof of a good work/life balance. But overall this will not get you a job or interview. If you wish to add them, add appropriate interests to your CV. Include interests that are an evidence of creativity, personality and enthusiasm. The example could be volunteering or taking part in charity sports events.
Always put “Available on request” and don’t list the names and contact details. Be ready to supply the references and make sure you contact people who agreed to give you references before you give their details to a potential employer. That way you make sure they are happy to get a call, and they are expecting it rather it being a shock. If you have written references, look after them and offer them when asked to see references.
Questions you should ask yourself before sending your CV
Does your CV show a convincing case that you are the best person for the job?
Have you compared the job advert with your CV? Do they match?
Is everything spelt right? Is it easy to understand?
A CV should always be sent with a covering letter
• A covering letter provides information on why you are qualified for the job you are applying for, explain the reasons for your interest in the organisation and identify your most relevant skills & experiences.
• It shows the employer that you know what the job involves and what they want from candidates. It should convince that you are the best person for the job.
Get some more pointers here at the National Careers Service website.
The Guardian Careers Advice page. This covers general advice, CVs and the all important interviews!
The Monster CV site