Helping you into work

Tips for your CV

Everybody has their own idea of how best to write a CV and what should go in it. These tips are only a guide, and may be more suited to some people than others.

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Tip 1: Basic guidelines for content

Have a dynamic summary section on the first page that shows clearly why you are the right person and have the skills to fill the job vacancy.

Include details of past roles, paid and voluntary, in date order, starting with the most recent or your current job. This should include the key skills required to do the job and the main experience received.

The employer may want to pass the CV around other departments, so make sure it has your contact details very obviously on the front page and use a nice layout and font.

Experience gained outside of work is just as important.

Tip 2: Don’t rely entirely on spell check when proofreading

You could do better than relying on the word processing software to fix any mistakes. The software is at best only ever a guide that makes suggestions; it can not always be trussed, sorry trusted. See what I mean.

Read through your CV correcting any mistakes and then read it again. To check the grammar and flow, try reading it out loud. Ask someone else to read it, either a friend for free or a professional proof reader for a fee, a few more pairs of eyes on your work can spot what you, and your word processor, didn’t. Keeping old versions in a separate directory is a good idea and do make sure you send the correct copy of your CV.

Tip 3: Tweak your wording to the job you’re applying for

Keep your CV honest; just gently adjust the order of your skills and experience to better line up with those required by the employer. This not only raises your profile, but makes your CV easier for the employer to match up with their requirements.

Generic CVs are fine if you are applying for lots of very similar jobs, but the employer will easily see that you have not made an effort to target their vacancy, which could be perceived as showing a lack of motivation and effort. An employer expects you to put in some effort. Try your best to match your CV to the requirements listed in the job advert or description, shuffle experience and skills around to highlight those the job advert is looking for.

Tip 4: Send it in the proper format

Follow the instructions on the advert or job posting very carefully. If the CV is to be sent by email and they ask for a covering letter make sure you provide one. Sometimes the covering letter is just a note box during the email process, make sure you fill it in stating the job you are applying for and a quick and snappy reason why you are suitable.

If they ask for an email directly to the employer then make sure you attach your CV and use the email as the covering letter. A good idea is to also attach your letter as a properly formatted and written letter and not just a bunch of email text.

In an era of electronic job postings and e-CVs, they may ask for a scannable version of your CV. If this is the case, copy a version of your CV into the body of the email, removing any fancy fonts and layouts first. Make sure that this version of your CV contains the key words from the job advert or description. If they ask for sales experience, etc. make sure these words appear. If you don’t, then you will fall at the first hurdle, as this is what they are scanning for.

Don’t forget to also attach a copy of your original CV and covering letter, just in case.

If they ask for a handwritten CV make sure you use a black pen, as this will copy and scan better. The employer may distribute your CV and there is nothing worse than trying to read a poor copy when there are lots of CVs to get through.