Welcome to our June blog post readers, we hope you’re having a splendid summer so far! This month we’re sharing some great tips for writing a CV that will make you stand out from the crowd and catch the attention of recruiters.
So first of all, what should a good CV contain? Well CVs differ from person to person, but there are some common areas that you should cover which are as follows:
- Personal and contact information
- Personal statement
- Work history/experience
- Relevant skills
- Education and qualifications
- Interests, hobbies and achievements
Aim to keep your CV short and sweet: it should be no longer than two sides of A4. The writing style should be clear, concise and make every relevant point without waffling.
Personal and Contact Information
Your CV should include some personal details and your contact information; you probably want these to be the first item on your CV so they’re easy for the recruiter to find. Details to provide include your:
- First name and surname
- Mobile phone number
- Email address
- LinkedIn profile (if you have one)
- Driving licence status
There’s no need to include personal details such as your date of birth, marital status or any dependants since these don’t affect your ability to do the job well. Questions from employers about your home situation are now either illegal or discouraged under the Equality Act 2010, so it’s best not to include those details at all. Likewise, if you’re applying for a job in the UK it’s best not to include a photograph of yourself: it occupies valuable space and doesn’t add anything to show how well you’ll perform in the role.
The next part of your CV should be your personal statement, which is a brief and easy-to-digest paragraph comprising of 150 words or four to five lines. The purpose of the personal statement is to sum up the specific skills and experience that proves to prospective employers that you’re the best person for the job. It should answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What can you offer?
- What are your career goals?
Recruiters often take mere seconds to look over a CV, so your personal statement presents a great opportunity to grab their attention from the start and convince them to read on.
Use this section to list your past periods of employment or any work experience you have gained, including internships and volunteering. Implement assertive and positive language, using verbs (doing words) such as ‘developed’, ‘achieved’ and ‘organised’. Relate the skills you’ve learned in work to the job role that you’re applying for. Make sure that you don’t leave any unexplained gaps in your employment history – if you’ve been out of work for a long time, be sure to paint it in a positive light and write about any courses studied, volunteer work undertaken or soft skills that you developed.
This short paragraph should list key skills that help you to stand out from the crowd. You can mention skills gained from hobbies and voluntary work, including soft skills (such as working in a team) and hard skills (for example, knowledge of a particular software package). It’s good practice to do some research on the company you’re applying to and work out what skills they value, which will influence what you choose to include on your CV.
Education and Qualifications
List your most recent or relevant qualifications first, so for example start with professional qualifications followed by your degree (if you have one), A Levels and then GCSEs.
Interests, Hobbies and Achievements
Utilise this part of your CV to make yourself sound interesting and highlight your diverse interests and skills. Mention any positions of responsibility, experience of working in a team or using your own initiative. It’s best not to include generic or passive interests such as socialising with friends or watching TV; likewise it may also be a good idea to leave off solitary hobbies that might indicate a lack of social skills.
You should include two references, which should be from people who have employed you and that can vouch for your skills and experience. If you’ve never worked it’s acceptable to use a teacher or tutor as a reference.
That’s the content of the CV covered, so what other things do you need to consider?
Your CV should be carefully and clearly presented and, if sent via post, should be printed on clean, white paper. Leave plenty of white space around text and between categories to make the document easy to look at. Use bullet points and keep sentences short and to the point.
Always Tailor Your CV
Before you apply to a job, always read the job description carefully and edit your CV so that it’s tailored to the requirements of that specific role. You should do this for every position that you apply for; sending generic CVs is a waste of time and won’t result in success. It is also a good idea to search for the job title of the role you’re applying for online and see what keywords are commonly mentioned, so that you can edit your CV to include them.
Last but not least, we leave you with some final words of advice:
- Make sure that you update your CV regularly with new skills or experience that you have gained.
- Always check your CV and application documents carefully for errors, including grammatical mistakes and typos.
- If you can, back up your achievements with facts and figures (for example, ‘I succeeded in increasing sales by 20%’).
- Don’t ever lie on your CV! It would be extremely awkward if you’re caught out at interview, and besides, no one wants to be fired from a new job for having been dishonest.
Are you over 16 years, eligible to live and work in the UK and currently not in employment? The Moneywise Plus project may be able to help you. We offer support and training to get you ready for the world of work, including completing job applications, developing volunteering skills and building your confidence. Find out more and discover if you’re eligible for our service on our website, or call us on 0300 003 700