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How to write a CV – the complete guide

20 May Career Advice
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Getting your CV right is important. A CV is almost like an advert of yourself. It Is your sales pitch to a potential employer on why you would be a good fit for the role you are applying for.

Therefore, making sure you know how to write a CV and do it well, including all of the essential information is super important.

Starting a CV can be the hardest bit, collecting all the information you need about your skills and experience, trying to remember your grades from school and then trying to think of something to make yourself sound remotely interesting in the ‘Hobbies & Interests” section can be a bit of a pain.

BUT, once you have got that out of the way, it is a living, breathing document, and you can change it and update it depending on the job you are applying for.

Before you get to that point though, you need to actually write one.

To help you out a bit, we have compiled all the guidance we think you will need to make sure you nail the perfect CV.

Plan

Before you start writing, plan how you are going to write your CV. Outline the sections that you want to include at the start, this is important as it will focus the information you need to include.

The most important information should be displayed on the first page, as this is the first thing that the recruiter will see. The recruiter has a list of criteria they are looking for – don’t make it hard for them to find otherwise you could be overlooked.

Structure your CV so that it reads well and highlights the skills and experience you think makes you stand out from the crowd.

If you are struggling to decide on sections to include, most CVs usually include:

Title

The title of your CV should NOT be ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ – put your name in the title so they remember it!

Personal Information

Include contact information such as name, address, phone number so they can contact you, and an email address. Your email address should be professional and as simple as possible.

DON’T include a photograph of yourself, this is common in some EU countries but not the UK.

Personal Statement or Summary

A professional introduction which is clear and concise and explains your suitability for the role, highlighting your key skills and experience. Should be no longer than 3 lines.

Key Skills

This section clearly outlines your key skills. It is what the recruiter will look at to see if you match up with the job requirements. It is important to make sure these match with the required skills in the job description. You can add additional skills further down your CV should you require it.

Experience or Employment History

Although you may be tempted to include your Saturday shift in the local café when you were 16, you should only list the most relevant experience, unless it is your most recent job.

Start with your most recent period of employment , writing a brief overview of your duties and responsibilities, as well as the job title and the dates you worked there.

Education

Clearly outline the names of the school or institution you attended, starting with the most recent, and give the name of the course(s) you undertook, the dates you studied there and the results of any examinations you took there.

For things like GCSEs, instead of listing each result, a sentence summary such as, “attained 9 GCSEs A-C, including Maths and English” can read better and save valuable space on your CV which you could use elsewhere.

Try and relate your education history and what you learned to the job application, mentioning transferable skills and experience. For example, you could highlight a specific module you studied that relates to the job.

Additional Skills

You may not need to include this section, but it can be helpful to include as it is a chance to mention the other skills you possess outside of the core skills required for the job.

For example, if you are fluent in another language or are skilled in a piece of software, or you can mention soft skills such as teamwork, problem-solving etc, that are needed in the workplace.

If there is something you want to highlight, you can include it on your cover letter if you haven’t got enough space on your CV.

Additional Experience / Extra-Curricular Activities / Achievements

This section is your chance to show off a bit if you have additional (non-work) experience.

For example, if you coach a local football team, or if you undertook a first-aid course with a local club, or maybe you took part in the Young Enterprise scheme in school and won an award.

Try and make it relevant to the role you are applying to, and you can tweak it depending on the requirements of different roles.

Hobbies & Interests

This section kind of (always) gives us the fear. You may feel a pressure to include something to make yourself stand-out (hot yoga, anyone?), but try and keep it real.

It is a chance to show off your personality and it can actually be important for a recruiter in seeing the other dimension to you outside of work.

References

Many people think that they should include the names of their referees here, but it is best to leave them out until requested by the company.

Instead of including the details of the referees, you should write a sentence summary such as. ‘Referees available upon request’. This tells the employer that you have references and are happy to provide them if they wish to contact them.

It also allows you to make contact with your referees and let them know to expect a phone call or email from your new employer.

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