CV Writing Tips

Blog post

What is a CV designed to do?

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 not designed to do?

Your CV should not be your life story, nor should it describe in endless detail everything you have done in previous roles. It is simply intended to demonstrate your suitability for a NEW vacancy in as short a time as possible.

CV Writing – format

It is likely that the person reading your CV will have many others to look at, so your intention should be to engage them as quickly as possible to ensure that they give you maximum consideration, increasing the chance that your application will be 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 recruiters advise that the best way to stand out is to include colour, quirky fonts and graphics to grab the reader’s attention, we would advise against it. These formats often make it more difficult to find information that the reader is looking for, forcing them 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 a maximum of 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 Writing – content

In our opinion, a CV should follow the below structure…

Name and Contact Details

Make sure that you are contactable! A telephone number and email address are essential. It may also be 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. Both agency and internal 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.

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.

Key Skills Section

This section can grab a recruiter’s attention by ticking a number of boxes immediately. You should take the time to ensure that a number of the key skills you highlight are 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.

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 very quickly.

Career History / Voluntary Experience / Extra-Curricular Activities

As with the ‘Key Skills’ section, bullet points are great as they allow the reader to easily scan the document 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 short
  • Full stops and commas may be an opportunity to add a separate bullet point
  • Avoid elaborating with multiple examples
  • Avoid too much jargon

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. Participating in any extracurricular training or education for self-development will demonstrate your growth mindset. 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 (e.g. Accounts Assistant).