Your CV is one of your most powerful marketing tools. It represents your experience and work history and will often be your first contact with potential employers. First impressions are everything, so it's worth spending the time to make sure your CV is as effective as possible.
Although every employer’s idea of the “perfect CV” will differ, there are some key factors to consider to make your CV to stand out from the crowd.
How to write the perfect CV
- Always start with your Personal Details – name, address, email address and telephone number. Giving details of your date of birth and gender are entirely optional.
- It’s good practice to follow your personal details with a Profile – a short, snappy paragraph about yourself, employment history and career aspirations. It’s a nice way to introduce your application and can sometimes replace the need for a covering letter.
- Unless you’re a recent graduate, you should put your Employment History next. This is the most important section of your CV, so start with your most recent and most relevant commercial experience and continue in reverse chronological order. Don’t forget to give start and end dates for each position you’ve held.
- Include information explaining any gaps in your employment history as well as reasons behind moving around a lot (e.g. contract roles, redundancy etc.). Employers understand that people move roles but like to see evidence of longevity and commitment to a company.
- Bullet point your Key Responsibilities for each role. Avoid being too long-winded by saying enough to get an employer interested, but not so much that you’ve nothing left to discuss at the interview.
- Avoid overly technical terms and jargon associated with your sector or current business, as someone in a different field might not understand.
- Each role in your employment history should be accompanied by some Key Achievements. This is your opportunity to demonstrate where you add value, so quantify and qualify your achievements wherever you can. If you’ve generated additional revenue for the business, or saved them money, say so. If you’ve improved the customer experience or won an award, now’s your chance to speak up. Here you can show a future employer you’re proactive, commercially savvy and will be great choice for their role.
- Keep the Education section short and snappy as qualifications become less relevant the more experienced you become. To keep it simple state your degree(s) classification first, if applicable, followed by a list of A Level / BTEC qualifications or any other higher education diplomas you have. For GCSE’s, a simple “9 GCSE’s Grades A-C”, will suffice. Feel free to include specific grades for subjects that are particularly relevant to the role. Again make sure your education is detailed in reverse chronological order, with the latest courses appearing first on the CV.
- Be sure to mention any courses or extra qualifications you’ve achieved whilst in employment, or since leaving education, in an Other Skills section. Highlighting languages, technical or computer skills is great for a CV, but be prepared to back them up. If you claim to be fluent in Japanese be prepared to conduct an interview in that language!
- The Personal Interests section should be unique, light-hearted and include some interesting details about your hobbies. Keep it to two or three sentences or bullet points and make sure it reflects you as a person. This is an opportunity to highlight the elements of your personality an employer can warm to.
- Don’t forget to mention your References at the end of your CV. The best option is to simply put “References are available on request”, alternatively including details of two referees on a CV is plenty.
General CV Tips
- Keep the font type and size plain and consistent, without too much formatting. You don’t need to highlight pertinent information in bold.
- Everything should be relevant to the role you’re applying for. If it’s not, delete it!
- Keep rereading your CV until there are absolutely no errors. The presence of a single spelling, grammar or punctuation mistake will severely reduce your chances of getting an interview.
- Keep your CV as short as possible. Two pages are ideal for those early in their career and three or four pages maximum for more experienced candidates.
- It is not necessary to include a picture of yourself, but including the URL to your LinkedIn profile is a nice addition.
If you have any questions or would like specific advice on any element of your CV, please feel free to contact us.