CV Writing Guide

Your CV is the first step in finding a job and it’s usually the part at which most people fail to adequately sell themselves to potential employers.

Your CV essentially is a sales brochure, designed to emphasise the interesting USPs (unique selling points) that make you stand out from the crowd.

To help assist you with your search for finding that right job, CY Partners have prepared some advice on CV preparation.

CV Structure

Your details

Include your name, address, phone numbers and email address so you can be contacted easily. Information such as nationality, age and driving licence status are optional.

Personal statement

One paragraph that immediately captures the attention of your reader and entices them to find out more about you. Be careful not to cram too much in.

Work experience

List your most recent position first, continuing in reverse chronological order including the name, location and dates of your employment for each company you have worked for. Aim to use bullet points wherever possible to highlight your responsibilities and achievements in each role so the person scanning your CV can quickly match up your experience with their job description.

Education

Again, in reverse chronological order, give brief details of your academic and professional qualifications along with the grades you achieved. If you’re looking for your first job since leaving education, include this information above any work experience.

Skills

You will have picked up many skills over the years, some tangible, some less so. It is important to include specialist skills such as HPLC, PCR, ELISA to demonstrate specific expertise. Also include IT programmes you have used and any foreign language skills you have gained, and state whether you’re at a basic, intermediate or advanced level. Skills such as communication and project management are harder to substantiate and should be backed up with examples.

Hobbies & Interests

Including these is optional but we do advise this. The idea is to give the interviewer a more rounded picture and, perhaps, something more personal to discuss at an interview.

References

It’s not necessary to list referees on your CV, but you should state that details are available on request.

Always remember you’re not writing a CV for yourself, you are writing it for your reader. As you write your CV, put yourself in their shoes. Keep it to the point and, above all else, interesting.

Due to the high volume of applications they receive, a recruiter will generally spend at most 20 seconds initially reviewing each CV, so it’s important to get it right. If you follow the structure outlined above, you’re on the right track to presenting the information in a clear, concise and persuasive way.

Things to watch out for

Time spent making sure your CV is crisp and relevant is always time well spent. There are plenty of simple mistakes that are often overlooked that will turn your readers off before they’ve gone much further than your name and address.

  • Resist the urge to jazz up your CV with images or colour
  • Steer clear of long paragraphs
  • Careful use of bold type can be effective, but don’t overdo it
  • Underlining should be reserved for website links only
  • Use typefaces like ‘Times New Roman’ or ‘Arial’ – they’re easier to read
  • Avoid using font sizes smaller than 11pt, employers won’t strain their eyes to read it
  • Don’t use txt speak and only use abbreviations if they’re universally known

And finally.

Check for spelling or typographical errors. Any errors are your responsibility and are one of the first things employers use to weed out the weaker candidates.

You’ve got the basic elements of your skills and experience down, now you need to fine-tune your CV to ensure it’s got the ‘X-Factor’ that will have employers queuing up for your services.

Understanding your audience

As your personal marketing campaign, your CV must make the reader believe you’re a worthwhile product. Business people generally have the same objectives; profit, bigger market share, developing their business and creating new products for their customers. They will look for candidates who will help them to achieve these objectives.

Whether you have six months or 20 years worth of experience, the rules are the same – show what you’ve done or have the potential to bring to the table.

How can you identify an achievement?

They come in all shapes and sizes and are different for every job. For some you will be able to show concrete evidence such as percentage increases in sales or money saved by streamlining. For others you will need to work harder to show that the influence you had on a project or task made a major impact.

A statement such as, “Used new sales channels to increase market share beyond the UK, resulting in a 25% increase in turnover.” suggests you used creativity, initiative and drive to reach a certain goal.

Try to pick at least one specific example per job you’ve held and explain briefly how it improved the business. It can’t be stressed often enough that your CV is designed to get you the interview, not the job so remember not to delve into too much detail. Provide enough information to entice your potential employers to call you in so you can explain face-to-face the exact details of the tasks you’ve undertaken and the skills you have learnt.

Personal achievements are also valuable pieces to include as they often show focus and commitment that will impress recruiters. But be careful not to give valuable space to insignificant achievements. As you refine your CV, discard any content that is not selling you in the right way.

Skills for all occasions

There are countless transferable skills that can be used for many jobs in many companies. If you’re looking to change industry, remember that although an employer may not need your skills on a certain IT package, they may be impressed that you have the ability to pick up new software quickly.

Explaining gaps in your CV

There are many reasons why your CV may have gaps and recruiters don’t look down on candidates with them. They are suspicious however when these gaps are not clarified, so make sure they are explained in a positive manner.

Here are a few common gaps and how to give them a positive spin:

Extended holidays

Communication and organisational skills are always important, so say how your break helped you develop these areas. Any languages you may have picked up will also be a major bonus.

Family issues

There’s no need to go into detail on personal reasons for taking time away from work, as essentially it’s nobody else’s business. A three or four word description is enough.

Nothing in the market

It happens, so don’t hide it. Try suggesting you were waiting for the right opportunity to come along, employers may even get the impression that you were in demand.

Following our advice above will give you an advantage over other applicants when going through to the selection stage. If you have any further queries your Consultant at CY Partners can advise.


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