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How to Write a CV

How to Write a Successful CV

Being able to write a CV is one thing, but writing a good CV is quite another, and is critical to your success during the job hunting process. CV-Library have teamed up with some of the best CV writing companies, to help you in writing a CV that plays to your strengths.

What is a CV?

The term CV is short for the Latin phrase 'curriculum vitae' which simply means 'direction of life'. In today's working world, a CV is a personalised document used by job seekers to provide a concise insight and overview into who they are, their educational and employment history, skills, interests, achievments and contact details. Along with a cover letter, CVs are one of the first things seen of a candidate by a prospective employer as you are required to supply them when applying for a job.

When a company advertises a vacancy, they will create a candidate specification that outlines the skills and experiences required to fulfil the roles and duties expected of the vacant position. During the application process, employers will review and compare candidate CVs with the specification in order to see how closely the two match. This is done to ensure that the most suitable candidate is selected.

Writing a CV

There's no proven formula to CV writing, but there are some key do's and don'ts. As an introduction to who you are, your CV needs to be easy to digest as you may only have 10-15 seconds to impress the employer, who may only glance over your CV. Make it positive, snappy and concise. Sticking to one or two sides of A4, include only relevant information regarding your employment and education background. Double-check your spelling and grammar, but don't solely rely on spell checking tools. Read over it with fresh eyes and get a friend to proofread it for you, too.

Cover Letter Examples

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CV Templates

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CV Writing - Successful CV Tips

  • Use short, concise sentences. They're easier to read and digest, which is important because recruiters often only have seconds to glance and scan your CV.
  • Format your CV with easy-to-read fonts. Don't got over the top with making text bold, underlined or bigger than size 12.
  • Proofread your CV over and over again. Use spell checking and grammar tools, but don't rely on them.
  • Include your contact details: phone number, email and address. Some people choose to include their online profiles, such as personal websites, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Make sure your employment history, including title and dates, can be easily read and consistently formatted. Order them with the most recent first.
  • Include your personal and past achievements.
  • Follow up all claims with proven examples.
  • Ensure you have suitable referees. Either attach references or simply mention that they're available.
  • Include awards or recognition received for your work, together with professional memberships and relevant training.
  • Keep your CV honest, factual and to two pages.
  • Send your CV alongside a personalised cover letter.
  • Take ownership and use words such as "determined", "implemented", "created", "devised", "coordinated", "conceived".
  • Seek feedback if you are not achieving any interviews, and if you feel your CV is not reflecting you at your best seek external advice.
  • Use a professional email address, sticking with your name and not silly or offensive words, such as johnsmith@gmail.com

CV Writing - Mistakes to Avoid

  • Never date a CV, like you might a letter.
  • Don't include irrelevant personal details, such as date of birth, nationality or photograph.
  • Don't mention salaries; what you've had and/or what you expect.
  • Never put a 'reason for leaving' in your employment history.
  • Don't lie.
  • Don't organise your employment or education in reverse chronological format. Start with the most recent first.
  • Avoid mentioning every single job you've had; only include relevant or important roles.