By Ali Norell, 05.07.2021
It's important to remember that there is no one accepted 'one size fits all' format for a CV. There are, however, some basic guidelines to get you started and make your CV easy for the recruiter to read and engage with.
· It should be clearly formatted and short enough for a recruiter to scan quickly. Two sides of A4 is best.
· It should be tailored to the role you're applying for.
· Have the job description in front of you to refer to as you go along.
Make a start:
· Choose a clear, easy to read format for your CV
· Choose a standard font: Arial or Times New Roman are good bets. Nothing fancy, coloured or curly!
· Create a header, including your name, address, email address, phone number and date of birth. It's not necessary, or cool, to title it 'Curriculum Vitae'- just your details are fine.
· Include a Personal Statement. In one short, succinct paragraph explain who you are, what you’re offering, and what you’re looking for. Your aim is to prove why you’re suitable for the role on offer.
· Next, list your work experience and key skills, with the most recent first. Include your job title, name of the organisation, time in the post and your key responsibilities. Don't be random: try as much as you can to match them to the ones mentioned in the job description. Don't have much experience? Don't panic – but don't try and pad it out. Include any unpaid work experience, internships, even stints in family businesses – it all counts. Refer to key skills you learned or used.
Go into more detail:
· List your Education. Go in reverse date order: most recent first. List date, qualification gained, grade achieved.
· Add in any notable achievements. This is your chance to prove how your previous experience has given you the skills you need to make you a suitable candidate. Have you run a club or society? Set up a fundraising initiative? Completed a Duke of Edinburgh Award, or similar? Do you volunteer for a charity or help others in some way? Think of which skills you used here, give examples and show how you might apply them to the job you're going for.
· Include some of your hobbies and personal interests; in particular, any that are relevant to the role or show that you're interested in your career. Don't mention socialising with friends: if it doesn't add value, leave it out.
Check, check and check again:
· Proofread the CV. Look for spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. If you're not sure: look it up!
· Ask a friend, colleague or family member to proofread it for you.
· Check it again.
· Does the job advertisement ask for a cover letter? If it does, write one (we have some guidelines here). If you are applying to work with this company, you won't get far if you don't follow their first instruction.
Do some thinking
Think about what the employer needs and how you can find that out. What does this knowledge tell you about what the employer might want to discover during the recruitment process? How could you refer to this in your CV, cover letter or interview, if you have one?
Try to think more about what the CV is aiming to achieve, rather than just about 'how to write one'. After all, if you have put together a CV that conveys that you have researched the company and the role on offer, thought about how your experience might make you a good fit and presented your information in a clear and concise way, it really doesn't matter whether you used Arial font or included/didn't include a personal statement.
The more you can get inside the employer’s thinking, the more you can adapt your story (and your individual brilliance) to that specific application. Spending time to target one application effectively so that you get the job is better than having a great all-purpose CV that is second on everyone’s list of who they want to employ when they’ve only got one vacancy.
However, sometimes the CV will need to be a little more generic, in which case the cover letter is more important in articulating how you match each requirement in the person specification, job description, or advert. Remember to use examples wherever possible to show exactly how you match these requirements. Show, don't tell!