If you have landed on this page, it’s probably because you are curious to learn as much as possible about writing a great CV. If you have been starring at a blank Word document for hours on end, fear not! It may seem daunting at first, but in due course it becomes obvious that it’s all about getting into the mentality of CV writing, following a few simple tips and letting your experience and achievements speak for themselves. It’s key to tailor your CV to your experience, education and field and dedicating that extra effort is important as a good CV will be very beneficial to your job search.
So grab a cup of coffee or tea, whichever you prefer, get comfortable and let’s go through some of the things you should be aware of or should research more when drafting your CV!
What Is A CV?
First things first! You may already be aware of this, but why not recap? CV stands for curriculum vitae, which in Latin means course of life. It is the document most commonly used when applying for a job, and it serves as a summary of your education, past professional experience and skills. A great CV will help you land a job interview, so don’t forget to let your personality shine through and to highlight your achievements, but always in a short and concise manner.
How To Write A CV
The following section will walk you through some suggestions on how to draft your CV, from what CV heading to opt for, to what sort of skills to put on a CV. Thinking about your CV’s format and what to write in order to link your education, experience and skills together might take some time, but it’s worth the time, especially on your first CV template!
Before you get cracking, be mindful that you have everything you need within easy reach. If you have a specific job application in mind, then be sure to have the job spec handy. It may even be wise to work with the job spec before you start writing; reflect on how your skills and past experience link to the requirements for the position and use this as a guide to help you navigate your CV.
Deciding your CV format is one of your most important tasks. There are the simple parts, like choosing a font, and those that require a bit more thought, such as whether to opt for a reverse chronological or skill based CV.
It would be good to focus on creating an easy to follow document, which is consistent throughout. In terms of the font, it’s always a plus to opt for something which looks professional, and is clear. More Times New Roman than Comic Sans, to put it in other words. Picking a font size ranging from 10 to 12 is common, but it also depends on the amount of information you have to fit into your CV. It is also recommended that a CV is no more than two A4 pages. Regardless of the size, try to make it flow with clear spacing and bullet points that enable you to communicate your skills and achievements with efficacy.
The other aspect which requires your attention, is if you should be gravitating towards a skills based or a reverse chronological CV format. It may be worth considering the former if this a “first job CV” kind of process, were there isn’t that much professional experience to note and the focus is primarily on your skills relating to the job description. The reverse chronological CV format entails listing professional experience and former education in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first.
What To Include In A CV
Curious to learn more about what to include in a CV? The content needs to be relevant to the job you are applying for, but the general idea is to present yourself. From a brief, two sentence personal statement in which you sum up yourself, to your skills and achievements, you should consider the things you have been up to that would catch the reader’s eye. These can vary significantly, from interests that may give depth to your application, to voluntary work or computer programmes. Keep reading to find out what sections are most commonly used in a CV.
How To Structure Your CV
In this section, we will discuss a basic CV layout, so you can get an idea of how to describe yourself on a CV. This layout can be modified to better suit the position you are applying for, or your industry requirements. It is also a CV layout commonly used in the UK. The key sections to include in your CV are as follows:
– Contact Details:
The contact details should be at the top of the document, and include your name and email address. Other details, such as a contact number can also be incorporated.
– Personal Statement:
Your personal statement should be brief, but impactful. How would you describe yourself in a nutshell? That’s probably the first question you should be asking yourself in order to figure out how to write a CV’s personal statement, and then adapt the response to further peak the interest of a recruiter.
– Professional Experience:
The key information when outlining your professional experience include a job title, the organization or company you were employed in, as well as how long you stayed at the role for. This would be followed by a few bullet points summarizing the position, and giving more depth to the listing of your past experience. Remember, things like voluntary work or internships also fall under this segment!
For your education the key information would be the type of qualification and your grade, starting from the most recent.
This section is dedicated to all the skills you have to talk about, but couldn’t cover above! We have jotted down some ideas below, in the “Skills to put on a CV” section, so keep on reading to learn more.
It may come as a surprise if you have been looking into writing your first CV, but interests are a great addition to your application! Of course, it’s key to keep these relevant to the job application and be mindful to include interests that would give depth to the application, and potentially serve as talking points during an interview.
Skills To Put On A CV
Deciding which skills to jot down on a CV may feel like a challenge, since it entails “selling yourself” as a candidate and that is not always an easy task. Rest assured, you are not alone! It makes sense to be perplexed when thinking about potential skills to include.
If you are curious about the types of skills to talk about, then perhaps you should be researching soft and technical skills, to understand what to portray for each. Simply put, the former concerns communication, social and people skills. The latter is more oriented towards an ability to perform a practical task. Although skills and experience do commonly come hand in hand, this section offers the opportunity to include information that you couldn’t insert above.
– Time management
– Problem Solving
– Management Skills
– Computer Skills
– Presentation Skills
Interests To Put On A CV
Interests can be equally, if not more, confusing to pin down compared to skills. A key element when deciding which of your interests should make the cut, would be to give depth to your application and consider how to present yourself as a well-rounded person. While discussing your avid social life is a don’t in this section, there is a number of other things that could prove interesting for a person scrolling through your CV. For example, stating that your interest is travelling, literature or architecture hints to a curiosity which is always welcome by employers. It may also come up at some point during an interview, and create an opportunity for further discussion!
How To Write A CV With No Experience
If you are researching how to write a professional CV, chances are this is your first go at it. If your work experience feels slim, don’t fret! Just keep in mind that anyone who has accomplished their career goals started off with zero work history at some point in their student years, and built their way up! Reflecting on your past experiences and bringing together a combination of skills and achievements that you have accumulated as a student is a good way to go in that case. Perhaps you could also look into a skills based CV layout to start off with too.
How To Write A Graduate CV
If you are working on a Graduate CV, then you could consider putting the education section first. Present your education in reverse chronological order, and – if you are keen to populate your CV even more – perhaps pick out some modules or projects that you have worked on which either stand out, or work well with the job description. In the case that your most recent education entry isn’t completed, you can also insert a predicted grade which takes into consideration both previous modules, as well as past grades.
Tips For Writing A CV
From what to include in a CV, to specific skills you could opt for, we have covered quite a bit of ground in terms of how to go about your CV writing and what you should be looking into further. Below, you will find some CV tips, which tend to result in strong CVs.
– Shy away from colourful or otherwise quirky fonts.
– Two pages is the maximum.
– It should be concise, so keep it short and snappy!
– Everything is linked: always double check that you have linked your work experience with specific skills and vice versa.
– Research your industry specific keywords, and try to incorporate them when drafting your CV text
– Use active verbs where possible
– Always, always, always proofread and spellcheck before you send the document on its way! A second set of eyes is actually better…
Yes, it may feel like a lot of information to digest. Also, as exciting as landing your first job will feel, CV writing is a task that needs a lot of attention and quite a bit of research. It’s all worthwhile though, as by the time you have your first CV sample, the ones to follow will just be a matter of tailoring them to the job description, drafting a cover letter to accompany them and sending them through!