Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CVS / DEC. 05, 2013
version 7, draft 7

Step by Step Guide to Writing a Top Notch CV!

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To put it bluntly, a vast number of the CVs out there are total rubbish, especially those created by new graduates and job seekers with little or no work experience. Part of the problem is that most of the career advice young people get when they are in High School is pretty poor; even the advice I got at university wasn’t anything to write home about! We receive vague information from (more often than not) a career advisor who is more interested in fobbing you off with leaflets than educating you on the vital importance of a well turned out CV in order to land your dream job!

What you really need, above all else, is a killer CV, because it is your CV that will get your foot in the door for a face to face interview. So, instead of just the usual vague ‘How to write a CV’ guide; I am going to give you a detailed step by step on how to write a top notch CV.

Graduates, students, job seekers…read on!

Make it Easy to Read

It is very important to use a small readable font such as Times New Roman or Verdana Sans size 10 or 11. Limit your CV to a maximum of two pages, keeping everything concise and informative. Use bullet points and Bold sub headers instead of fancy formatting (recruiters can’t stand poorly formatted CVs). You have to get your point across to the recruiter as quickly and pain free as possible without bombarding them with information. If they have to spend more than 20 or 30 seconds reading your CV, then they may just discard it straight away.

I can’t stress this point enough: avoid any spelling or grammatical mistakes. This is listed as the biggest reason for recruiters discarding CVs. If you can’t be bothered to use a spellchecker then why should they read your resume? Go over it with a fine toothcomb; just this extra bit of effort can make a real difference.

Tailor Each CV

This may seem obvious but surprisingly few people actually tailor CVs to each individual job application. Make sure that each CV has a personal statement, skills and work experience relevant to the job that you are applying for. For instance if you are applying for a marketing position; it is important to emphasize your writing and communication skills rather than your skills in micro biology. Much of the necessary information can be found in the job description so be sure to have it beside you when tailoring your CV.

Using certain keywords from the job description in your CV can be an excellent way of coming up in recruiters’ searchers, especially if the company is using keyword scanning software. The increasing need to beat these scanners is one of the main reasons professional resume writing agencies are growing in popularity.

A Good CV Template:

 Contact Information

  • Start with your name, location and contact information such as email and phone number. Including your LinkedIn address can also add value to your CV these days.

 Passport Photograph

  • In the UK for example, there is no need for a passport photograph. In fact, the general consensus is that it will have a negative effect on your application. In other countries however, particularly throughout Europe and Asia, a photo included in your CV is to be expected.

Personal Statement

  • Include a personal statement, at the top of your CV. This is a short and punchy piece of text which shows that you have the necessary drive and skills for the job at hand. Think of it as a much shorter version of your Cover Letter! Be sure to alter the personal statement for each job too!

Skills

  • Your specific skills should be added after this. This would include technical skills or other skills which are related to the job role. If you have proofreading skills and you are applying for a technical role there is no point listing them. But you must list the technical skills that you will use while performing the job.

Education

  • Your Education should be listed starting from your most recent. It isn’t necessary to go down to your High school if you have more than one degree. If you have no higher education, then be sure to put down your High school education. Additionally, you should include any other industry qualifications you have acquire that relate to the job applied for.

Additional Training & Qualifications

  • Next you can include any additional training and courses including any specialist professional organizations you are a member of.

Work Experience

  • You should then list your work experience outlining the most recent and relevant work experience you have. Don’t just list every job you have ever had. Try to incorporate what skills this job gave you into a sentence explaining your duties. If you are a graduate or someone with no work experience at all, it is a good idea to try some voluntary work just so you can put something here. Trust me, recruiters will be impressed if you have taken the initiative to do voluntary work.

Projects

  • If you completed any interesting projects you should list them together with a link for the recruiter to view them online (where applicable). Try to highlight the transferable skills in a brief one-sentence explanation.

Languages

  • List any language skills that you have no matter how minimal. Just don’t say you are fluent in a language when all you can say is ‘hello’.

Interests & Hobbies

  • Interests and hobbies should be added last, but just because they are last, do not underestimate the importance of this section. More often than not, recruiters use this section to help them identify candidates who will be the right cultural fit for a company. Therefore, avoid writing down hobbies such as ‘watching movies’ or ‘listening to music’. Try to make them interesting to give the recruiter an idea of your personality. The best hobbies to mention are those that also suggest you are a team player i.e. being part of a sports team.

References – Not necessary

  • There is no need to provide references until after the interview stage. Many people are under the impression that references make you look for credible, but really, they just take up valuable space on your CV because a recruiter will almost never contact your reference before meeting you. Instead, write ‘References available upon request’. Remember you are trying to keep it at a maximum of 2 pages in length.

While writing a CV is never an easy task, especially if it is your first one; I hope this has given you some sort of guidance. If you follow these guidelines then you have a much higher chance of getting to the interview stage. If you are still struggling, why not try using the free CV building template on FindEmployment. It will give you a good structure similar to the one I have outlined above and enable you to tailor eachone to the individual job. You can also save, download and print it!

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