How to Write a Killer CV
As we enter into 2023, many of us will be considering our career options and be thinking about that next move. The start of a new year, often triggers this desire for progression, a new challenge or perhaps a change of direction.
Whether you have already seen a new position you want to apply for, or you are just beginning to explore what is out there, a refresh of your CV is always a great place to start. The process in itself enables you to reflect on more recent achievements and new responsibilities, allowing you to see opportunities you hadn’t previously considered.
Whilst it’s essential that you always tailor your CV to each role that you apply for (this applies to your covering letter too!), having a solid and up to date CV to work from will save time in the future and make the whole process much easier.
Drawing upon the extensive experience of our VWA Recruitment Consultants, we have put together our ultimate guide to writing a killer CV that will enable you to stand out from the crowd.
Make life easy for your potential employer
Put yourself in the shoes of the potential recruiter and take time to assess whether the information you’ve included is truly relevant and valuable. Imagine the process of going through a large pile of CVs and remember that they are likely to be skim-reading just to get through them all! Ensure your CV is succinct, clear to read and well formatted so that they can pick out your key selling points easily.
What should I include in my CV?
Don’t forget to include your contact details – email and telephone number. Have this information clearly written at the top of every page. Address, date of birth and photo are not necessary.
Whilst not essential, a short and punchy personal statement can be a great way to stand out and grab attention by highlighting your strengths and demonstrate your suitability for the role. Keep it to 1-2 sentences maximum and avoid overused terms such as ‘great communicator’, ‘highly organised’ and ‘proactive’.
List out all of your relevant work experience, including your job title, name of the organisation, time you were in the role and a brief, bulleted description of key responsibilities. This should be chronological, with your most recent experience at the top. Adding the logos of companies you have worked for brings colour to your CV and is a great way to draw the eye, especially if you have worked for some well-known companies.
Education and Achievements
Use this section to list out all of your educational experience and give details of the qualifications, grades and the date you were awarded them.
This section is also a good place to list out relevant skills and achievements, be it at work or within your education. Take time to reflect on how these would be relevant to the role you are applying for.
Consider the level of detail based on the current stage of your career. For example, if you are just starting out as a graduate, you will need to focus more effort and attention on this section to enable potential employers to see how you have gained the relevant strengths and skills within an educational setting.
If you have a full, clean driving licence, don’t forget to add it here too.
Hobbies and Interests
Again, before you write anything here, consider its relevance to the position you are applying for. Do not feel compelled to add hobbies or interests you have unless you can make a clear association. Adding ‘I love rock climbing’ to your CV is not going to make the difference between securing an interview or not!
Dos and don’ts to remember
- DO carefully consider your vocabulary and try to avoid over-used clichés such as ‘goal-driven’ and ‘highly motivated’. This is a tricky part of the process, but again, step into their shoes and try to read it as the employer
- DO proof-read (several times!). Spelling, grammar and punctuation must be absolutely on point
- DO consider your font carefully. Choose a nice, clear font that is easy to read and definitely avoid Comic Sans!
- DO use bullet points to list experience and skills. Long paragraphs will lose the reader very quickly
- DON’T waffle! Always re-read what you’ve written and review how you can make it more succinct
- DON’T include personal information beyond main contact details (mobile/email)
- DON’T write in the third person. YOU are telling the reader about YOUR experience
- DON’T overclaim skills such as languages – only state fluency if you really are!
Remember that your up to date CV is a base to work from and it is vital that you tailor your CV to each role that you apply for. Carefully read the job description and try to ensure that all the key elements are covered within your CV and covering letter.
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