CV Writing Guide

CV Writing Guide

The importance of your CV can’t be underestimated. Every day, employers and recruiters scan through stacks of them, making snap decisions about people purely based on that single document. If you want to ensure yours isn’t dismissed, it has to grab their attention, and quickly.

But how? Follow our tips, and you’ll create a CV that ensures you don’t fall at the first recruitment hurdle.

Make it easy to scan
If recruiters and HR staff are scanning CVs rather, it’s your job to make your CV easy to scan. Writing in a way that’s ‘scannable’ is simple enough, and just requires a few considerations:?£?

  • Write in short paragraphs, with no more than two or three sentences
  • Use bullets where you want to draw attention to key skills or achievements
  • Use lots of sub-headers where relevant to break up long blocks of text
  • Don’t use a font size that’s too small and don’t squeeze too much into one page

Try to imagine that someone is reading your CV on a screen, rather than printed out. On a screen, we all read differently. We have multiple tabs open, and our attention is fickle.

So, make your key information as visible as possible.

Make your personal statement punchy
Your personal statement should be right at the top of your CV, and it’s probably the most important section. It needs to be short – perhaps no more than 100 words at the most. But it also has to be punchy – you need to make whoever reads this want to read on.

Think of your biggest skills and achievements, and try to boil them down to whatever will make the biggest impact. Use positive language, show how ambitious you are, and above all, make sure it’s grammatically perfect.

A personal statement with a spelling mistake is the easiest way to get rejected.

Make your work experience interesting
All too often, the work experience section of a CV is a dull and repetitive list that loses the reader’s focus. You can combat this by drawing out specific achievements and skills you developed. And specificity is the key.

If you are a high-flying salesperson, don’t just say it – prove it. Refer to an award or some sales figures that put your achievements into a context that’s meaningful.

Make it made to measure
For all kinds of reasons tailoring your CV for every job you apply for makes a big difference. Firstly, recruiters and HR employees will recognise when you’ve customised your CV, and they’ll appreciate it. It shows a level of effort and commitment that goes a long way.

Secondly, it gives you an opportunity to promote the skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job. You re-jig it all accordingly, and make sure they don’t miss the stuff that makes you perfect for the job.

And finally, it allows you to remove anything that you think might detract from your employability for this role. This is your advert – and you get to choose how best to showcase yourself.

Make your language simple  
Candidates often fall into the trap of trying to use flamboyant and complex language, thinking it might impress their prospective employer. But it rarely works.

Instead, try to:

  • Use language that makes your point in the clearest possible way – complex language only increases the possibility of confusion
  • Use language that anyone can understand
  • Prove your claims where possible

Make it current and accurate
CVs have to appear current and up-to-date – it’s a minimum requirement. Check through carefully for new experience, or anything that is starting to feel too old and irrelevant. As well as adding new content, don’t be afraid to remove anything old.

Then check, and re-check, for accuracy. Spelling, grammar, dates, formatting – you can’t miss a thing. If the role you’re applying for is competitive, the margin for error will be small.

Make the most of digital tools
The digital age has transformed the hiring process – and the way you craft your CV is no exception.

So, when you’re writing or editing your CV, always remember to:

  • Include relevant keywords in your CV. These are the words that relate to your profession (i.e. ‘Marketing Assistant’)
  • Update and fine-tune your social media platforms – especially LinkedIn. Receiving a CV is often a green light for recruiters to find you online
  • Do an online audit of yourself – just to ensure everything looks as professional and relevant as possible
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