When you’re applying for a new job, your CV is often the first thing which employers will see. CVs will be used to screen applicants, and decide who has the relevant skills and experience to merit an interview. A great CV is your chance to make an excellent first impression, but writing it can be tricky. Here’s our golden rules about what you should include on your CV, and more importantly, what should probably be left off.
Golden Rule 1: Keep it Short!
The most common mistake which people make is thinking that a longer CV is naturally better than a shorter one. A great CV covers two sides of A4, double side printed on a single sheet. If you have many years of work experience behind you, or have lots of exciting projects which you want to let a prospective employer know about, it can be tempting to go into depth on each one. That’s not what a CV is about; you’re laying out the very basics about your employment and achievements. One sentence or bullet point about each project or job is probably enough – at interview you will be asked to expand on what you’ve been doing and what you’ve achieved. If for example you’ve been working as a social media manager, it would be appropriate to write “Social Media Manager, responsible for managing five separate brands across several platforms”. You don’t need to detail each brand, how many Tweets you wrote or how many likes you got on each Facebook page. Keep it simple.
Golden Rule 2: Presentation, Presentation, Presentation
The way your CV is presented is just as important as what information you include on it. Forget being creative and printing your CV in gold ink on black paper to make it stand out, folding it like an origami swan or making it look like a restaurant menu. Unless you’re applying for a job which is judged solely on your creativity, it won’t work. Whether you’re creating an online CV or one which is to be printed off and sent in the mail, stick to a white background and a font which says “professional” such as Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman. Fun fonts like Comic Sans or handwriting fonts should be avoided at all costs. Once you’ve created your CV get it proofread as spelling and grammar mistakes can make a very poor first impression. If you struggle with a neat layout, using a template can help.
Golden Rule 3: Don’t Forget the Personal Details and Statement
Writing “Curriculum Vitae” at the top of the page is probably unnecessary as it’s blindingly obvious what the piece of paper is when someone looks at it. Don’t forget though to include your personal details of name, contact phone number, address and email. Don’t include your date of birth, marital status or several different phone numbers.
You’ll also want to include a personal statement, and writing this is often the trickiest part of putting together a CV. A personal statement is a short paragraph telling the recruiter who you are, and what you’ve been doing. It should be between 50 and 200 words long, no more than six statements. Cut the waffle and introduction and get straight to the point. A recent graduate will probably start by stating their qualifications, whereas someone with many years’ experience will lead with their major achievements. Try to avoid using buzzwords and jargon, and if you’re struggling with a personal statement there are examples of both good and bad on the internet.
Golden Rule 4: Work Experience
<p>If you’ve already started full-time work and have one or more relevant jobs to think about, you’ll want to put this on the first page of your CV, after your personal statement. List your jobs, starting with the most recent. Don’t waste space by listing full addresses of employers or writing a whole paragraph about each job, bullet points break up the text and allow you to summarise key responsibilities. Try to tweak your bullet points to show skills which are relevant to the job you are applying for. You don’t need to put your reasons for leaving your previous jobs, but you should list the dates you worked for the companies to allow a recruiter to see how recent your experience may be.</p>
Golden Rule 5: Know what Education is Relevant to Include
If you’re a recent graduate or looking for your first job after leaving school, you’ll probably put this section at the top of your CV instead of your work experience. Start with your most recent and highest qualifications, whether that be a degree, or professional qualifications and then work backwards If you’ve a lot to say about your work experience, there’s no need to make this section overlong by adding in every single GCSE you obtained 20 years ago and the grade in each – it’s irrelevant unless you’re applying for a job which specifically states you need a GCSE in a certain subject. Include also training courses and industry qualifications you have obtained, especially if these are directly relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Golden Rule 6: Don’t Go Overboard on the Other Information Section
Usually a CV will have an ending paragraph giving the recruiter other information about you – any languages you speak, what you do in your spare time, notable awards and so on. If you have nothing extra to add, just leave this section out. Think about other things you have done which may be relevant to the employer such as voluntary work involving working as a team or taking on management responsibilities. If you want, you can include your hobbies and interests but it’s often best just to leave this out as employers aren’t really interested in finding out that you like going to the cinema and eating Japanese food. Don’t be tempted to lie about your hobbies either in an attempt to make yourself appear more interesting, your lies may well catch you out.
If you’re looking for a role in a growing industry, that offers work-life balance and more rewards than most, consider joining us at La Fosse Associates. Check out our graduate jobs page, or for more information about our positions, contact Karina Oluwo Karina.firstname.lastname@example.org // 020 7932 2083.
Where to next?
If you found these CV writing tips helpful, check out: Putting a Positive Spin on CV Negatives