Writing a CV is your opportunity to give a great first impression to your potential employers. The problem is that you only have a limited space in which to fit your whole life story. Younger clients have the opposite concern. They can feel daunted by the prospect of filling a whole page with relevant experience.
In today’s blog, we’ll look at what you should include in your CV, what you can afford to leave out, and provide a few tips to help your CV make its way to the top of the pile.
Think about your audience.
I want to get this point across first and foremost because it should inform your whole approach to CV writing. Ask yourself, “who will be reading my CV?” and keep that person in mind while writing and editing your CV.
It’s most likely that prospective candidates will initially be reviewed and narrowed down by a hiring manager. They will be searching for specific information and keywords that match the job description. With this in mind:
• Tailor your CV to each job description
If the company you are applying for has published a job description, make sure you include as many of the listed traits as possible. You need to make these keywords jump out of the page so that in 20-30 seconds of reading you make it to the “yes” pile.
Think quality over quantity. Spending a little extra time personalising your CV to each job description is more than worth it if it significantly increases your chances of getting to the interview stage.
• Make your CV clear, lean, and easily skimmable.
You may be competing against any number of potential candidates. Make the job of reading your CV as pleasant as possible.
- Use a good size font, clear headers, and a good layout are absolutely fundamental.
- Try as much as possible to make everything fit onto 1 side of A4. 2 if you absolutely must, but bear in mind that there’s a good chance whoever’s reading it won’t turn the page.
- I cannot stress this enough: with all due respect, they don’t want to hear your life story! Keep it to the point. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to impress them with further information in your interview.
• Up your presentation skills
What outfit would you wear to your interview? You’d definitely make sure you wore your best shoes! Just as in person, you want your CV to give the best visual impression possible. A well-designed CV can help you stand out.
Luckily, you don’t need a degree in graphic design to be able to create something that looks unique and professional. Canva is a great design tool that has some nice CV templates. Be warned though that not all of them are suitable for a job in professional services. Keep it classy, and remember it should be easy to read. Choose a design without too many bells and whistles!
List of essential information
• First name, surname, professional title and contact details
Include this information clearly at the top of your CV. Your name acts as the title. Don’t write “Curriculum Vitae”. Include a phone number and email address. These days you do not need to include your home address.
• Personal statement
Keep it short. 3-5 lines. Your personal statement is a concise overview of who you are and what you can bring to the role. You might also want to include your career goals here too.
• Employment history
Start with your current or most recent job, and all subsequent jobs in reverse chronicle order.
In the header, write:
- Dates of employment,
- Job title,
- Name of the company,
Beneath that write one line about the role, and then bullet points your duties, skills, and achievements. This is a great place to include the keywords from the job description.
• Education and qualifications
If you are just starting your career, this section is very relevant. Feel free to include information on relevant modules, placements, and transferable skills you acquired in each institution.
As you move through your career, however, this part of your CV should be kept brief. Include the name of the institution, the name of the qualification, and the grade you achieved.
• Extra skills
If you feel that there is more relevant information that doesn’t fit into the above categories, there’s plenty of flexibility to include them in your CV. You might want to include:
- IT skills
- Relevant hobbies and interests
The above advice is general to writing a CV for any career. If you have contacts in the industry of your chosen career, ask them if there is any specific information your potential employers might find relevant or interesting. Ask them to look over your CV and provide constructive feedback.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or if you don’t have any contacts you can trust to dedicate the time to help you, find a career coach who specialises in your chosen career.
As career coaches, it’s our job to help you put yourself in the best possible position to get your dream job and progress in your career. As specialists in professional services and public sector careers, we’re clued up on the keywords and phrases hiring managers want to hear. Together with you, we can help mine your current experience for relevant skills you might not know you even have!
If you’d like help writing your CV, get in touch. We’ll happily assist you in any way we can, and together we can ascertain whether you’d benefit from booking in a session with us. Our aim is to empower you to live out your dream career, and writing an incredible CV is the exciting first step!