CV Writing Tips

The good news is, there is no one-size-fits-all, so you have as much chance as the next person.

The bad news is, there is no one-size-fits-all, so you need to put in a bit of work to make sure your CV matches the specifications of the job.

A CV is a critical part of getting a job. Nowadays, there are many other factors included in the process, including your LinkedIn profile, your other social media channels, and any additional activities you undertake. However, a critical step in the process is your CV.

It is the ‘in’ you need to start the process. It is your foot in the door and depending on the strength of your CV, that door can open nice and wide, or it can slam shut in your face. (little dramatic, but you get the point)

Given its importance, we’ve pulled together some CV writing tips on compiling this document that could change your life.

If you have never written a CV before or haven’t written one in a while, this guide will give you a good understanding of the critical elements. However, what is vital is that you shouldn’t just send in the same CV for every job. Every job has its characteristics, and you need to make sure your CV reflects how you can best tackle these.

CV Writing Tips

Where to start with your CV

So let’s start at the beginning. Don’t waste your time (or valuable space) titling it CV or ‘Curriculum Vitae’. This fact is fairly obvious, so don’t bother.

Make sure your full name is on (including any titles), your phone number (best one to get you, not your home number if you never answer it) and your email address.

This may seem obvious but make sure your email address is not the jokey one you had at university or school. While it might have been hilarious at the time, you are applying for a job so, CharlieBig@Hotmail.com, just isn’t going to cut it.

There was a time when your home address was essential, but this isn’t necessary these days. Just add your town and region.

If you have a website or some other website presence, then include it here. However, be careful if there are opinions or positions you take that might make it difficult for you in your next role. The format below is a good example

Forename Surname
Job title
Town, Region
Phone Number: 07777 666 555
Email: john.doe@domain.com
Website www.mywebsite.com

Personal Statement

A personal statement or personal profile as it is also known is critical. This is your chance to make your mark and reassure any potential employer that you are the person for the job. 

It should be reasonably concise; this is not your covering letter! Probably no longer than two to three sentences that explain, 

  • Who you are, 
  • What you have to offer the company 
  • What your ambitions are

Employment history 

The next stage of your CV is your work experience. This gives the potential employer a good overview of your past roles and how they are relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Outline these in reverse chronological order. Each role should have the name of the employer and the time period you worked there. You should also include a short overview of what the company does.

Then you need to outline your experience and responsibilities with the company. Try and be specific and use bullet points, so it is easily consumed by the reader.

Try where possible to include meaningful results. You must highlight your achievements, especially if you are applying for a role in a similar field.

If you have several years of experience, you don’t need to go right back to the start. Perhaps cover the last ten years if there have been quite a few roles. Also, don’t leave a gap. If you have taken a career gap, explain it, don’t leave the employer guessing.

Here is an excellent example of a layout for your job.

Role title – Company Name (location)
Month/Year to Month/Year

Company Overview

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Key Responsibilities and Achievements

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

CV Writing Tips

Education and Qualifications

As with your work experience, lay these out in reverse chronological order. If you have a degree or more, start with this and outline the institution, grade, and graduation year. The format below is a good example:

Institution name – Date attended from – to
Level of qualification – topic studied (grade)

If you are about to graduate, outline the same as above but with an expected grade. It might also be helpful to detail some of the course elements and how they might be relevant to this specific job. Don’t go over the top, just headlines.

Additional qualifications from school are relevant in the early stages of your career; however, as you progress, there is less space for these as you build up your experience.

This is also the space to include specialist professional qualifications. Outline the essential qualifications and the awarding body in the same way you would a degree.

Supporting Information

Depending on your CV’s depth and the experience you have to present, there might not be too much space for additional interests and voluntary positions.

However, depending on the role, it might be an advantage to include hobbies and interest. If you were applying for a position within the sports industry, coaching a local team might prove advantageous.

Avoid the temptation to use this to fill space, including hobbies that add very little to the job.

References

It was the case that references were included on a CV. However, given that space is often of a premium, they are not critical at the start, so it is perfectly acceptable to add in ‘References on Request’.

Avoid style over substance

So there are a few dos and don’ts around formatting and structure. For the best approach, download our CV Template. Here are a few suggestions that you should follow:

How long should my CV be? This is one of the most common questions we get asked as recruiters. The standard approach is two pages, but there is no problem with three pages if you have critical information to convey. The problem arises when it gets to four and five and… well you get the idea.

No Typos

If you don’t have an eye for detail, get someone else who does to proofread your CV. Also, there are tools like Grammarly that are ideal for a final once over to avoid the mistakes.

It is essential you are accurate with the information and that there aren’t any spelling mistakes.

Easy To Read

This is important as those reviewing CV’s will be looking at several, and if your CV has a range of fonts and is one large mass of text, it will not grab the attention.

So use headers to split up the body of the text. Also, use a reasonably uniform font that is easy to read like Arial or Helvetica. Keep your text no smaller than 10pt and make sure your headers are suitably larger, perhaps 16-18pt.

Sending As PDF

Send your CV to either your potential employer or a recruitment consultant as a PDF. Submitting it this way helps maintain formatting and ensures it can be opened and viewed on any device.

Tailormade CV

Having a template CV with core information is fine, but you must ensure you tailor your CV to answer the problem the potential employer has, and that you will solve.

Leave it out

There are a few things that don’t need to appear in your CV.

Headshot – this is probably number one. We see a lot of this, particularly from other countries. It is not necessary. If an employer needed to see your headshot, they could consult your LinkedIn.

Equality Act of 2010

Some somethings are protected under law and that you don’t need to review. Chiefly:

  • Age or date of birth
  • Martial status

Neither are required to do your job and so shouldn’t be asked for or be included voluntarily.