Many job seekers struggle when it comes to this, asking themselves ‘How to write my CV’. The most important, yet most challenging part of the job search process.
A CV is the first thing an employer sees. The first impression before your first impression. No matter how skilled you are or how many years of experience you have, if the CV is not up to the mark, you won’t get a job. This has been confirmed by numerous recruiters who’ve confirmed that a poorly written or adapted CV may have devastating consequences.
In a competitive job market, paying attention to the small details can put you one step ahead of your competition, which could result in you being selected for the interview, instead of them. Fine threads of advantage which could make all the difference to your career.
There are countless reasons why you should have an impressive CV and cover letter. Having a skillset and a degree will never be enough if you don’t represent yourself properly on paper.
Follow this guide to learn just how to create a strong CV.
CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which means ‘course of life’ in Latin. It’s a document that provides an overview of your whole life when applying for a job. From your academics to major achievements, skills, work experience, your hobbies, personality and more.
Resumes and CVs are often mixed by professionals, but it’s not something to be confused about while job hunting. The most basic difference between CVs and Resumes is that a CV presents all of your work history, academics and skills, so it’s usually longer in length. On the other hand, Resumes are shorter in length, only presenting your skills and qualification for a specific position.
How long should your CV be?
The standard CV of a fresh graduate or a person with not a lot of experience is usually one page. Whilst individuals with five or more years might have two to three pages. Although not used very often, more than a two-page CV can acceptable for an individual who has experience of over 10-15 years with different organisations.
That being said, prolonging the CV unnecessarily is never a good idea. Keep it concise and to the point, as the employer may not be interested in too much detail relating to your first job 15 years ago.
Here comes the tricky and most critical part. Your CV needs to represent your career background and work experience, in a way that matches the job you’re applying for. If you’re a fresh graduate and have no prior experience, we’ll give you some insight into the elements that should be included in any good CV.
The first thing is definitely your contact details which include your email address, full name and mobile number. Date of birth is irrelevant or optional unless you’re applying for a job related to the showbiz industry (actor or model). In previous years, an address would have been mandatory, however these days, just the name of the city is sufficient.
You might be thinking “why should I put my personal info on my CV? My address number for starters”. Well, some employers may require you to put all the information in your CV but if you’re not comfortable, you can drop your full address for the name of the city or town. Ensure an email address is available to ensure you’re contactable.
Aims and Objectives
This part works as a hook for employers. It is a brief and concise statement that depicts your aims and objectives in your career. Usually, it’s placed at the start of the CV to mention your skills, key attributes and mainly, what makes you stand out from other candidates.
This section should no be longer than 100 words or 5-6 lines, so no cliché or copy/pasted words. Try to be honest whilst expressing your aims and goals, and be realistic. Employers prefer honesty rather than the same old wordings they’re seeing for the umpteenth time.
This section is where you list your educational history including the institution’s name and degree titles. Once again, keep it concise and relevant, there’s no need to mention every single grade.
Usually, it’s listed in reverse chronological order, placing the most recent first with dates and modules (where applicable).
Work experience also goes in reverse order like education, ensuring that your experience is relevant to the job you’re applying for. This section includes the job title, the name of the organisation, the start and end date of the job, the position you worked at and key responsibilities.
If you think your experience is something that should be the focal point of the CV, then you can add this section before education.
Skills and Achievements
This is where you mention the soft skills you learned with experience or other skills that you added to your skillset to be more productive. You can add any foreign languages you speak.
The skills you mention should be directly or indirectly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Avoid putting any false information about your skills or achievements as it’ll be exposed during the interview.
Mentioning your hobbies or interests help the employer to assess your personality and learn a little more about you. No matter how true it is, never just put ‘socialising’, ‘reading’ or ‘playing games’ on their own in the interests section because those alone will not give your prospective employer much insight into your personality, rather it’ll show the lack of effort by adding cliched interests.
Take time to think about things your enjoy doing, even if you haven’t done them recently. Your interests can act as general conversation, and quite often an ice-breaker which creates a relationship with your interviewer.
The reference section is highly ignored, especially by the fresh graduates. This section is to provide contact information about someone who can testify about your skills, expertise and character.
We recommend that you leave out the reference section until asked for by the company. You never know whose hands your application may pass through, and freely sharing contact details for your references isn’t always a positive thing.
You can write “reference shall be provided upon request”.
Do not title the document CV or Curriculum Vitae. The employer is aware it’s a CV, so titling it with your name will be sufficient.
Always break up the sections with headings. Be sure to make them prominent and bold with font sizes 14-16.
Avoid unprofessional fonts. Choosing a Comic Sans font for your CV is never a good idea. Use Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman font as they seem professional. Use font size 10-12 to ensure readability and keep the fonts consistent throughout.
Always list education and work history in reverse chronological order. It is easy for an employer to see your latest achievement first.
Correctly name the CV while saving. Most of the time you’re asked to email your CV, so don’t save it as an ‘Untitled document’ and name it professionally so that it can be distinguished. For example ‘Kanye West – CV’.
If you’re handing in a hard copy of your CV, print it out on an A4 size page and only print it on one side of the page. Do not fold it if putting it in an envelope – as you don’t want it to arrive wrinkly (believe me on that).
In short, a good CV is to the point, concise and clear every point necessary without jibber jabber. Being lengthy is not the measure of a good CV – you just need to hit targets sweetly. A CV is a gateway to an interview and if you tick the right boxes, you have a stronger chance of securing a job interview.
A good CV does not have any mistakes, grammatical or spelling. Always use a spelling and grammar checker tools to help you double-check.
Avoid cliché words and statements like ‘Team player, ‘hard-working, ‘multi tasker’ and other phrases that are extremely common, instead demonstrate them.
Craft your CV according to the organization you’re applying for. Research the website of the organisation or social media handles, and use the information to show your interest in the job and organisation.
Choose the type of CV according to your preference. Choose from a chronological, academic and skill-based CV that suits your profession and personality best.
Provide a professional-looking email on the CV. If you have a personal email account then create a new and professional one. First name Last name is typically sufficient.
If the CV you’ve created isn’t working, or you’re a fresh graduate and still aren’t confident about your existing CV, get expert help. It could be your university professor or an acquaintance who’s an expert in their field that might be able to help you craft a a version you’re satisfied with.
After all the hard work, you’re now ready to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that each job will hold slightly different requirements, so you’ll need to alter your CV a little to match them. It shouldn’t be too hard as now you know the principles of writing a a great CV now. Whatever you do, be honest in your CV and don’t mention something that you’re not skilled in.
Follow the guidelines mentioned above but never rely on one version of your CV all the time. If it’s working for someone you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you too. So keep improvising and improving on it.
After all the hard work, you’re now ready to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that every job has different requirements and descriptions, so you’ll have to alter your CV a little to match them. It shouldn’t be too hard as you now know the principles of writing a CV now.
Follow all the guidelines mentioned above but never rely on one version of your CV all the time. If it’s working for someone you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll work for you too. So keep improving, and updating it.
Whatever you do, be honest in your CV and don’t mention something that you’re not skilled in.
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