How to Write a 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
CV writing is no big mystery. The upshot is this: your CV has 10-15 seconds to impress a potential employer, which means it is important to sell yourself using positive language and emphasise your key skills. Limit yourself to a maximum of two sides for your CV and one side for your cover letter, using a standard font consistently throughout, such as Arial 12pt. Check and re-check your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Do not always rely on a spell checker. Silly mistakes born out of complacency are a big no-no in CV writing.
When writing your CV keep in mind the following key points:
CV Writing – What to do...
- Succinct sentences are easy to scan, especially given many recruiters have just ten seconds to read it.
- Use standard typefaces such as Arial, 11 or 12 points.
- Check and re-check spelling. Do not rely on spell checker.
- Ensure your personal details are printed by all printers, and not in the header/footer.
- Dates and employment should be easily found and consistent.
- Lead with achievements. Use active verbs and positive language.
- Follow up all claims with proven examples. Be quantitative as well as qualitative.
- Ensure you have suitable referees.
- Include awards or recognition received for work well done, together with professional memberships and relevant training.
- Keep your CV honest, factual and to two pages.
- Ensure every line sells you at your best.
- Prioritise relevant content.
- Ensure you send your CV with a covering letter ideally to a named individual.
- Take ownership and use words such as "determined", "implemented", "created", "devised", "coordinated", "conceived".
- Include figures (e.g., number of staff you managed or budget size).
- Focus on what you have to offer the employer rather than listing what you have done.
- 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.
- Do not use a silly email address. Keep it professional and just use your name e.g email@example.com
What NOT to do...
- Date your CV.
- Put your irrelevant personal details first (e.g., date of birth and nationality).
- Mention salaries.
- Think it is necessary to put a reason for leaving.
- Include negative or irrelevant information.
- Use reverse chronological format if you have many gaps between employment.
- Put education first if it's ten years out of date.
- List every employer you have been working for since the seventies.
- Allocate the same space to all positions, ignoring relevancy.
- Quote unsubstantiated superlatives (e.g., I am the greatest salesperson in the London area).
- Modify your CV for every application, unless you have a foolproof method of remembering to whom you sent which edition.