Writing A Standout CV

Writing A Standout CV

When applying for jobs, your CV is the ultimate selling tool. If you want to be selected for interview, this is your opportunity to showcase your skills and experience. It can be challenging to get through this first hurdle as employers hiring often receive hundreds of applications for each job advertisement. Have this in mind when preparing your CV as you’ll need to be both succinct and relevant to grab their attention.

What to include on your CV

  • Contact details – Put your contact details first so recruiters can easily find your e-mail address or phone numbers.
  • Personal statements – This should be a short statement or “summary of experience” and include relevant information about your skills in relation to the job ad. It should be tailored to the role rather than a general statement, such as: “I’m a results driven professional with excellent communication skills.”
  • Career history – Start with your most recent job, work experience or voluntary placement and work your way back. List your job title and the dates you were employed. All the dates should match up; this is something a recruiter will look for. If there are gaps, make sure you explain them. Remember to write about more than just the duties or responsibilities you held in each role and include any key achievements along with figures and statistics if you can. This shows how you added value to the company that you’re results-focused.
  • Qualifications, training and education – Next, list your education (school, college or university) and relevant training. Some roles will require specific qualifications, so highlight those on your CV.


What can make a difference?

Each role is unique and therefore your CV will need to be adapted for each application. Research the organisation and what they’re looking for. You can use the job description or advert to match your skills against the role. Take out any unnecessary information – this just takes up space and the recruiter reviewing your CV won’t want to know about things that aren’t relevant to their vacancy.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got any work experience yet as there are plenty of other ways to show you have the right skills and abilities:

  • Did you have to organise school / college / university events, have to keep records or hold meetings? If so, these are perfect examples of being organised, working in a group, using your initiative and sticking to deadlines.
  • Were you a volunteer for a charity? This proves that you’re a committed individual.
  • Did you coach sports at college? It shows you may have some relevant skills for managing a team or mentoring individuals.

The basics

  • Formatting – Highlight titles and main headings in bold. Use a standard font such as Arial or Times New Roman and don’t be tempted to make the font size small to fit more on the page. It must be easy to read. Fancy borders and formatting can take the focus away from the important part – the content.
  • Length and order – You have about ten seconds to grab the recruiters attention, so make sure you put the important work experience first. If you have limited work experience, you can put your academic qualifications first. No recruiter wants an eight-page CV so make it short and sharp. Aim for two pages or less and include what’s really necessary to get you the job. Use simple, plain and positive English with clear and concise content.
  • Spelling and grammar – Always thoroughly check your spelling and grammar and ask someone else to check your CV before you end it. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a CV with lots of errors.
  • Need to edit down your CV? – Here are a few things that you can remove because they’re just not essential for your application:
  • Driving licence – unless the role specifies you need to drive
  • Photograph
  • Date of birth
  • References – just state – “References available on request”
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