CV writing advice

Your CV is your chance to sell yourself and your skills to prospective employers and although this should be a topic you know the most about, many people struggle to effectively communicate their capabilities, strengths and achievements, finding it difficult to talk about themselves.

The most common challenge in writing a CV is striking the balance between enough and too much information.

The thing to bear in mind is that you have less than 30 seconds to impress an employer with your CV, therefore it needs to very quickly and obviously demonstrate your suitability for the role. This is usually best achieved by shorter paragraphs with clear headings; the heavier the copy, the more difficult it is to read.

What to Include

Your CV should include your name and contact details, profile, education, work history and hobbies.

The profile should include a little information about you as a professional and an overview of your capabilities. You can also include a key skills section if you wish to.

Education information should include schooling, college, university and any professional development training or courses that you have done.

Work history should include your complete work history, having gaps or bits missing causes questions.

Hobbies show what you enjoy to do in your leisure time and can give an insight into a person’s character.

Always ensure that you can talk knowledgeably about whatever you include on your CV, there is nothing worse than stating you can do something and then not being able to evidence that you can.

Format

Starting with the profile gives a quick snapshot of your experience; this can include reference to qualifications if relevant, background, sectors etc. If you wish to add key skills this should come next after the profile.

Education can either be next or at the end, depending on whether your education is a selling point for the role or could be considered a potential weakness. For example, if they are looking for degree qualified candidates and you are not but have a wealth of industry experience then put it at the end. That way they will buy into you before they get to your education.

Work history is usually of most interest to the employer, so ensure that it starts on the first page to grab their attention. This should be in reverse chronological order; your most recent work experience is likely to be the most relevant to the job you are applying for and therefore the reviewer can quickly see how suitable your experience is.

Detail each job title, employer and dates of service then provide a sentence to describe the company; the reviewer may not know who the company is and what they do. Then detail your responsibilities and a few key achievements for each role; these are often best disclosed in bullet points. Achievements are very important to show that you were effective in the role.

Hobbies should be brief, honest and as interesting as possible.

Length

There are a number of myths surrounding how long a CV should be and many people are advised it should be a certain number of pages. We believe there is no fixed formula for this, the length of your career and number of roles you have had will surely impact the length of your CV. Although it should ideally be no longer than 4-5 pages, it is imperative to include as much relevant information as possible.

If you have a long career history you can either simply list your employer, position and dates of service for your early career and then provide details on your later, more relevant roles. Alternatively just provide less information for your earlier positions to keep it brief.

There are several ways to get more information on each page, by adjusting the margins and reducing text size slightly you can squeeze more on to one page. Be mindful of how easy it is to read through.

Tailoring

We advise candidates to tailor their CV to each role they apply for as every position will have slightly different requirements and it is not possible to cover everything on one generic CV. Your most relevant experience or projects for a particular role may not be included.

Ensure that you match your responsibilities and capabilities as close to the job spec as possible.

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