Writing a Great CV
When advertising a vacancy most businesses will request that you submit a CV (Curriculum Vitae) to support your application. A CV is a document that outlines your skills and experience relevant to the role you are applying for.
What is a CV designed to do?
Businesses will use your CV to measure your application against others, in order to decide who to shortlist and who to invite to interview. HR teams and Hiring Managers do not have the time to interview all applications, so in order to have a chance of being offered the job, your CV needs to stand out (in a positive way) and get the reader thinking that you would be a good match for the vacancy.
What is a CV not designed to do?
Your CV should not be your life story, nor should it necessarily describe in great detail everything you have done in your previous roles. It is simply intended to demonstrate your suitability for a NEW vacancy in as short a time as possible.
Before you start
Given that the reader is likely to have numerous CVs to look at, your intention should be to engage the reader as quickly as possible in order to ensure they read your CV fully and give you maximum consideration, increasing your chance of being shortlisted.
Before you even start to write however, you should consider the following:
Font - Wherever possible you should use an easy to read font (the CVs we produce use either Sofia Pro Light or Calibri Light).
Layout - While some will advise that the best way to stand out from the crowd is to include colour, quirky fonts and graphics to grab the reader's attention, we would strongly advise against it. These formats often make it more difficult to find information that the reader is looking for, having to scan multiple columns and boxes. This takes up valuable time they will dedicate to your initial application. For most vacancies, a structured layout is preferable.
Length - You may have heard of the 2-page rule suggesting that your CV should be limited to 2 pages. This may have been the case when CVs were read in paper format, but it is far more likely that your CV will be read on a computer screen which reduces the need to keep it so short. That said, more than 4 pages would be considered excessive for most roles.
CV Layout / Sections
1. Contact Details - Make sure that you are contactable, a telephone number and email address are essential. It is also helpful to include your location, although a full postal address is not necessary.
Bear in mind that your name alone makes you searchable! It is highly likely that your social media pages will be reviewed and scanned for personality fit as well as any possible red flags. Increasingly, recruiters screen candidates on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for team fit. Our advice would be to remove or make private any content that could be considered inappropriate.
2. Your Profile - Your profile is your opportunity to tell the reader about your professional self (briefly) and what you are looking for. Two short paragraphs are ideal.
Paragraph 1 - This is an opportunity to tell the reader quickly about your professional self (a little about your personality, what you enjoy or what you have a passion for If possible you should relate this to the job role
Paragraph 2 – This section should be used to say what it is you want and why are you looking for a new opportunity. You should always make this a positive message and refrain from any negativity towards your current or previous employers.
3. Key Skills Section - This section will grab a recruiter’s attention by ticking boxes immediately, especially if you take the time to ensure they are specifically relevant to the role you are applying for. These can include your professional skills as well as soft skills that are valuable to employers (See Template CV). Bullet points should be short and punchy as opposed to drawn out sentences.
4. Professional Qualifications - Should you have a professional qualification, or training that is relevant to your application entering it below your key skills is another great opportunity to tick a box.
5. Career History, Voluntary Experience or Extra Curricular Activities - As with the ‘Key Skills’ section, bullet points are great as they allow the reader to easily scan the document and tick numerous boxes in a short space of time. Consider the following when writing your sections:
- Experience relevant to the role should be first on the list
- Key information can get lost in a lot of text so keep them reasonably short
- If they are more than one sentence, they are generally too long
- Full stops and commas may be an opportunity to add a separate bullet point
- Avoid elaborating with multiple examples
- Avoid too much jargon
6. Interests - Everything you put on a CV will be analysed by the reader. Depending on what role you are applying for you may wish to add or remove elements of this section. For example: Participating in any extracurricular training or education for self-development will demonstrate your growth mindset and keeping fit will also leave a positive impression. Alternatively saying you enjoy skydiving might imply you are a risk taker which in roles that require you to be risk averse may be a negative (Accounts Assistant for example).
CV Writing Service
Hopefully this page has helped you to write or improve your CV.
Should you want additional support from a professional CV Writer, The Burford recruitment Company provides a professional CV Writing Service to show case your skills and experience and give you the best chance of being offered the interviews you deserve. Click the link below to find out more...