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There is, quite literally, an infinite amount of hints and tips I could list, these are also very dependent on the type of role you are looking to gain employment in, (for example, I would expect a Marketing Managers CV to look completely different to a Mechanical Engineers CV), but these are my top 5 tips to create a great CV.
Tailoring Your CV
This for me is key, countless times I have received a CV for a role that is completely unrelated to the candidate’s background, with no explanation as to why they consider themselves suitable.
For example, if you were a hiring manager, looking for a graduate Engineer; would you contact someone who’s experience only appeared to be Zoo Keeper?
Scroll right down to the bottom of the CV and the hiring manager might see a small section about how the candidate has just finished a PHD in engineering. But with recruiters spending, on average, less time than it takes Usain Bolt to run 100m, you should really make it obvious how you fit the criteria the recruiter is looking for to ensure you’re not overlooked.
The simplest way to do it is with a short sentence in your personal summary (more about that in the Layout section), explaining why you are applying for this role, and what your career aspirations are.
Style and Format
You’re CV needs to be easy to read, try to stick to widely used software when creating it and use common, simple fonts, as there is the possibility not all computers will have the same font packs as yours’ does. Also, a large number of companies and websites now use automated CV recognition software, if the software cannot read your CV then you might just be automatically rejected!
PDF’s are also a really good way of sending your CV as nearly all companies accept this format, it also look’s incredibly ‘clean’ but make sure you save an editable word copy as it is incredibly difficult to edit a PDF.
One format you should never send your CV in is a picture, I.e. JPG, PNG. Not only could it be construed as unprofessional, some companies just outright don’t accept photo CV’s, due to the way their databases work.
Try and stick to the same font throughout your CV, make headers a different size to the body of your text, in addition to making sure each individual section is easily distinguishable from the others.
Again, make it obvious why you are applying for the role, I normally recommend to candidates who reach out to me for CV advice to create a CV in the following format and order:
- Personal Details
Sounds obvious but it is surprising how many candidates don’t include their location, phone number and sometimes even an email address, make yourself as easy to contact as possible.
- Personal Summary/Statement
This doesn’t need to be any longer than one or two paragraphs, in here I would include what you are currently doing, what skills you have gained across your career, any relevant experience for the role you are applying for, (remember what I said at the start of this answer!), and at the end include what sort of role you are looking for.
- Career History
Write this in reverse chronological order (your current role first then work backwards), write a short paragraph summary for each company/role and then write some bullet points that give a brief but relevant review of your role, I have done this incredibly simply for an example;
April 2015 – Current
Really Fast Cars LTD
Really Fast Cars LTD is a dealership in Nowheresland specialising in super-quick cars.
In this role I sell cars to the general public, my role also includes:
- Greeting Customers.
- Cleaning the shop floor.
- Running reports.
April 2014 – April 2015
Tasty Coffee LTD
Tasty Coffee is a coffee shop in Nowheresland town centre, selling tasty coffee.
At Tasty Coffee I was employed as a barista whilst completing my studies, I had many duties, these included:
- Opening and closing the store.
- Cleaning tables.
- Cash handling.
Add in a small synopsis of your education, you don’t have to add every single secondary school qualification you have by grade, you can simply list how many you had, for example, I would put (using UK qualifications.)
Mechanical Engineering Meng 1st Class Hons
3 A Levels: Maths, Science, IT
8 GCSES A-C
- Personal Interests
An interests section is a great way for recruiters and companies to find out more about how you are as a person, it can also serve as an icebreaker.
Did you ‘sauce’ suppliers or did you ‘source’ them?
Are you ‘ideal for the roll’ or ‘ideal for the role’?
Don’t rely on spell and grammar checkers to make sure your CV is grammatically correct, proof read it and, if possible, ask a family member or friend to proof read it for you as well! Attention to detail is vital and the last thing you’d want is the potential situation of a recruiter binning your CV because you make a simple error.
This sounds obvious but be honest, lying about qualifications, past roles and duties and the like isn’t wise, you run the risk of having offers withdrawn and not to mention the embarrassment if you are discovered to have lied, the easiest way to avoid it is to simply be honest.