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How to write a CV that will get noticed

Author: Guy Walker
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Inspired by a fresh new year to make your mark on, it’s no surprise that January and February are two of the most popular months to hunt for a new role.

Having a CV that not only beautifully showcases your great experience, but also shows off what a wonderful human you are (thanks to your glowing personal statement), is an absolute must in order to reduce the noise in this busiest of months. But how do you write a CV that helps you to stand out from the crowd?

Well, you’ve probably heard of CV submissions written on chocolate bars, flown in by an owl, or disguised as a box of doughnuts, but if the role you’re going for doesn’t lend itself well to out-of-the-box creative type submissions - don’t worry, most don’t.

Guy Walker, Marketing Recruitment Lead at Forward Role commented, “There’s no right answer or secret formula when it comes to writing a CV. Every employer will have a different preference in the way they like it done. However, we’ve found if you follow our tried and tested method, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance possible of securing an interview. Be clear, be memorable and most of all, be honest – let your unique blend of experience do the talking.”

Take a look through our guide on how to write a CV and learn how it’s done without the theatrics.

Plan your CV layout

First off, it’s important to decide how you’re going to structure your CV. Readability is key and it’s vital to get the right information in the right places. We’d recommend following this format for your CV layout (we’ll go into each section in a bit more detail later):

  • Personal Details
  • Profile
  • Employment History
  • Education
  • Other Skills
  • Personal Interests
  • References

The hotspot on any CV is the upper middle of the first page, where the eye tends to be naturally drawn. Make sure this section includes something worthy of this powerful position - tailoring each CV to the job you’re applying for will go a long way here. It may seem like a lot of work but it’s worth remembering, writing a CV is worth the initial time investment to get it right.

Get the content nailed

When it comes to CV writing, remember that you have 9 seconds to make an impact. An employer wants to see that you have the right experience for their role, so be sure to get straight to the point.

First up your Personal Details. It’s best to just include your name, address, email and phone number. Adding your gender and date of birth is entirely your personal preference but it’s not a requirement.

Up next, a short, punchy Profile paragraph about you, your experience and your career aspirations. Not sure how to write a personal statement for your CV? Keep it snappy and don’t ramble: it’s a really great way to engage potential employers when used correctly. It’s there to show off your enthusiasm and ambition.

When it comes to listing out your Employment History it’s best practice to write it with dates in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role, and therefore most relevant experience, at the top. If there is any need to explain gaps in your CV or sudden moves, be brief but be sure to address them, then use the interview as an opportunity to positively expand on these. List key responsibilities whilst avoiding any jargon that might not be understood by a new employer. Entice them with the overarching plot to show you’ve got the experience, but leave the story telling for the interview.

Don’t forget to list key achievements in your Employment History section. Did you improve processes? Were you involved in implementing new ideas? Did you positively impact revenues? Show them why you’ll be the best choice, but be sure you can back these up if you’re questioned further on them later down the line.

Whether it was only a few years ago, or a distant memory, your Education section is there to demonstrate you’ve got the qualifications required for the role. When writing a CV, again place them in reverse chronological order, with your most recent qualifications first, keeping it simple and easy to understand.

If you have Other Skills that are relevant, put them in the next section. Maybe you’re fluent in French or have exceptional Adobe Illustrator skills - be sure to emphasise it, especially if it is relevant to the role you’re applying for.

Personal Interests are just that: interesting. However, they're not the main focus when writing a CV so keep it brief and light-hearted but don’t be afraid to show off a bit of personality.

Finally, don't forget to include your References. Whether you want to provide these on request or specify particular people, it’s vital to keep this section up to date so employers can call on them should they wish to.

Formatting

It’s time to throw the old-fashioned Times New Roman in the bin and definitely do away with quirky fonts like Comic Sans. Use a modern font such as Arial or Calibri that are super readable and make your CV look clean and clear. Keep the font size standard too: anything smaller than 11pt and larger than 13pt starts to look a bit off-kilter. The sweet spot of 12pt is best when writing your CV.

Try not to go crazy with the formatting either and where possible use bullet points to break up paragraphs, making the information is easy to digest. Keep it to 2 sides of A4: your potential employer won’t thank you for making them read a CV the length of War and Peace. It's more than likely they’ll not bother reading it at all if it’s too long.

Social links

Whilst it’s not a good idea to list your personal Instagram and Facebook pages, if they do relate to your job – i.e. they showcase your incredible social media skills - then they’re worthwhile putting down. However if they’re just your personal profiles featuring pictures of you and your cat, then it’s probably best to give it a miss.

On the flip side, LinkedIn profiles are definitely worth noting down, as all those endorsements you’ve been racking up will look great to a potential employer.

Know your audience

It’s worth revising your CV for each job you apply for, to showcase your strengths and gear it towards each role. We know when CV writing it can be hard to keep things short, but by focusing on the most relevant information for a specific job, you can keep the word count down whilst maximising your chances of impressing.

Still unsure of how to write a CV? If you have any questions or would like specific advice on any element of your CV, please feel free to contact us here at Forward Role and we’d be happy to help.

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