19 April 2017 · by Laura Smith How to write a good CV - plus template
Your CV is a crucial part of the job application process. It represents who you are, what you have done in the past and what you can offer future employers - all on two pages. Together with your cover letter, your CV is likely to be the first piece of communication you will be making with the employer, so take the time to consider what you are going to include and how you are going to make your CV relevant to the role.
Remember, your CV needs to grab the employer’s/recruiter’s attention and make them want to interview you. The best way to do that is to include lots of buzzwords throughout your CV whilst ensuring it is easy to read, cleanly formatted, and a maximum of 2-3 pages in length. Effectively selling your skills and experience is the key to securing interviews. Save your CV as a Microsoft Word document and avoid using any text boxes or fancy designs as this may distract from your skills.
“When constructing your CV you should present yourself in a thorough, simple, easy-to-understand way. It should be neat, organised, and easy to read and include the most relevant information from your experience and relate your skills to the job description well.”
Robin, Associate Manager – Accounting & Finance, London
Start by looking at what you definitely need to include on your CV:
Your personal information
Start your CV by adding in this information to the top of your document:
- Your full name, postal address, contact number and email address.
- Make sure your email isn’t too casual or a nickname, you can create a free email using Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail if your current one isn’t very professional.
The body of your CV
- Personal statement
- The first 2 or 3 sentences should showcase your key strengths from past work experience, and highlight any key achievements related to the role you are applying for.
- Think carefully about what sets you apart from the competition and include it here.
- This is a great opportunity to tailor your CV without having to edit the entire document, any key skills required for a role should be highlighted here.
“Alongside punctuation and grammar, the personal profile at the start of a CV is really important, candidates should be selling themselves to show how they best suit a role and give recruiters and employers a reason to choose them over other candidates”
Vanessa Harvey, Principal Consultant – Temp, Bracknell
- A list of your technical skills and key achievements
- This will ensure the person reading your CV knows of the computer programs you can use, any secretarial skills you have, etc. You can also add in your competency level.
- Add any key projects you have managed where it showcases other skills, like keeping to deadlines, working on multiple projects, and showing positive results that contributed to success.
- Keep each point succinct – these should be discussion points so shouldn’t go in to too much detail.
- Your work experience (starting with the most recent first then working back)
- Include the job title, company name, the dates you were there and your key tasks for your last 3-5 jobs.
- Consider which tasks will make your CV stand out to future employers. Add in specific tasks, programs, achievements and any positive changes you implemented.
- Add in bullet pointed lists of your skills and achievements, but try not to make it too long.
- Only include the details for your past jobs which have a good crossover of skills with the vacancy you are applying for, if there are gaps (for example university or other study) at the bottom of your experience explain what other interim roles or study you may have completed in a single sentence.
- Your educational history
- List the dates you were at each educational establishment (most recent first) and the qualifications and grades you attained, going back to your secondary school qualification.
- Highlight any relevant university or college modules or courses you have taken.
- Include any extra training you have received such as professional qualifications, especially if they are a desired requirement of the role you are applying for.
- Hobbies, sports and any charity work
- These can offer more an insight into your personality and cultural fit to the organisation, especially if you are starting out in your career.
- Include your references only if the job advert specifically asks for them, otherwise you can state that references will be available upon request.
- A link to your professional portfolio
- This could be particularly beneficial for you to demonstrate your writing ability, design work or pieces of programming.
- A link to your LinkedIn page
- This is a great way for recruiters and employers to see how you present yourself online and for employers to validate that you have the skills you say you have (ie, through endorsements and recommendations). Some hirers may also be interested in seeing if you have any connections in common, so get networking!
Make sure you don’t include any of the below in your CV:
- Any other personal information
- This could be your picture, date of birth, gender, marital status, if you have children, national insurance number, nationality, ethnicity, or any other personal information which could be grounds for discrimination.
- Your bank account details
- Reasons why you left a role
- Jobs which are completely unrelated to the vacancy you are applying for
- Lies or exaggerations
- Ensure everything you mention on your CV is truthful and accurate.
- Typos and grammatical errors
- Go through your CV with a fine tooth comb to eliminate any mistakes. Try to get a friend or family member to read your CV too to triple check it.
And remember, think about skills and experience that employers will be impressed by. What makes you stand out from your competition? What have you achieved?
Get started on your CV and download our template here!