CV writing can be a daunting experience. However, it is your best chance to make a good impression on a potential employer, as they will use your CV to make their first judgement about you, so you’ve got to get it right!
The top 5 mistakes we see on CV's are:
- Poor structure and layout
- Poor grammar and spelling
- Lack of information on duties and responsibilities
- Lack of specific information on accomplishments
- Unexplained gaps
Creating a great CV isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. We decided to put together a guide with tips and advice to help you write a CV that will hopefully take you to the head of the queue.
So what do you need to include in your CV?
Although the structure of a CV is pretty flexible, there are specific sections that employers are expecting to see.
Your personal details
The first part of your CV, positioned at the top of the page, should be your personal details. Include your name, home address, phone number and email address, so any potential employer can contact you easily if they are interested.
Always make sure that your name stands out, so it is easy for the person reading to figure out whose CV it is.
DO NOT include:
Marital Status (irrelevant)
Nationality (only relevant if you’re applying from outside the EU)
Date of Birth (irrelevant – companies should not discriminate due to age)
Photo (let employers judge you on your skills, qualifications and experience – not on what you look like!)
A personal statement
This is probably one of the most important parts of your CV, as it provides potential employers with a brief overview of your experience, education and key skills, and how they make you a good fit for the role.
Some say it's just a waste of space on your CV because most recruiters don't even read it. And you know what? They might be right! Potential employers get fed up hearing from people who are all good communicators and can work well on their own initiative as well as part of a team.
Be different! Avoid generic phrases that everyone uses. Highlight something unique about yourself that sets you apart from the other candidates.
If done right, your personal statement should give your job application extra impact and spark interest in you as a candidate.
Check out the links below for guidance on how to write a personal statement:
Tip: Keep it short! You will have the opportunity to expand on this further down your résumé.
The employment history section of your CV is where you get to outline your work experience, previous jobs and internships. It needs to be accurate and highlight..
- What work you have done
- Where you have done it
- When you have done it
You should list your most recent positions in a reverse chronological order - starting with your most recent role as it is most relevant to the employer.
Include the name and location of the previous employer along with your job title and start & finishing dates of your employment for each company you have worked for.
- Use bullet points wherever possible to highlight your responsibilities and achievements in each role
- Focus on the duties and responsibilities that are most relevant to the job that you’re applying for.
- Try to find ways to make your experience relevant!
- Give more details for your recent roles and less details for old roles as you go down the CV.
Education and Qualifications
Just like in your employment history section, list your most recent qualifications in a reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent one).
Include name and location of the institution, along with the dates you were studying there, qualifications and/or grades achieved.
Tip: As in your employment history, try to focus on what’s most relevant for the role you’re applying for.
This section of your CV will show the recruiters what you can offer to the company. Try to focus on the skills that are:
Job-Related - skills that are directly relevant to or useful in a specific job/field.
Transferable - skills learnt in one field of work that can easily be adapted to a different field.
Adaptive - skills proven by personality traits rather than experience.
Here’s a list of typical skills to include on your CV:
- Time Management
- Ability to work under pressure
- Problem solving
Tip: List up to five examples and explain in a bit more detail what you did, how you did it and what was achieved.
Hobbies and Interests
What's the best way to show the recruiter a bit more of your personality? Talk about your hobbies and interests!
The idea is to provide the interviewer with a rounded picture of who you are as a person. It makes your CV more individual and gives you a chance to talk about something during your interview.
Hobbies such as sports, volunteering and charity work can add great value to your CV.
Tip: Try to think of hobbies/interests that might be relevant to the role you’re applying for.
It’s not necessary to provide references on your CV, but then you should state that the details of your references are available on request.
Don't forget you need your referee's permission to be contacted!
Now that you have your CV sorted, what's next?
Formatting of your CV is just as important!
Here are a few quick tips:
Length: Standard length for a CV is 2 pages of A4. Try to keep it short and to the point!
Font & Size: Use easy to read fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial. Your font for the body should be between 10pt & 12pt, and the headings between 14pt & 18pt.
Format: Use bold headings for each section to make sure your CV is easy to follow.
Accuracy: Make sure you have the correct contact details, names of previous companies you've worked for, dates of employment/education, etc.
Proofreading: Check and double-check your CV for any spelling, grammatical & formatting mistakes! Misspelling words might not be the end of the world, but it simply shows that you do not pay enough attention to detail.
Saving the file: Save your CV as a PDF file. It ensures that the recruiter can open your CV on any device without the formatting being messed up. Also, use your full name as a file name, it will help the recruiters to identify your document at a glance.
A well-structured, clear and concise CV is what you need to get the job you want.
Remember - this is your only opportunity to make a first impression!