Where to start
It seems obvious, but start with your name. And make sure it’s in larger type than the rest of your CV so that it stands out clearly at the top. Middle names are an optional extra.
These are very important and it is surprising how many people omit them from their CV. How is a recruiter going to contact you if you haven’t given them any details? You should include your home address, your main contact phone number and your email address.
Personal Statement / Profile
Tell the reader who you are, what you are looking for, and what you have to offer. Make it relevant to the role/field you are looking for. Highlight your strengths, skills, achievements and competencies. Alternatively, you can highlight your skills in a separate Skills Summary section (making it relevant to the position you are applying for). Keep it brief and to the point – the rest of your CV should be able to expand on the claims you have made here.
Education and Qualifications
If your qualifications are a good selling point, include them here. If your career history is stronger than your educational achievements you might want to move it to appear after your Experience section.
Work History / Experience
List your career history in order of most recent and relevant first and always explain any gaps. Include the full job title, the full name of the employer, and your start and finish dates. Give a brief, one-sentence description of the service the company provides. Next, give a brief but descriptive summary of your responsibilities. Try and tailor them to fit the job you are applying for – show that you have the relevant experience they need. Lastly, remember not to list the same duties for each role as this would show a lack of diversity and is a huge waste of an opportunity to highlight further skills and experience.
Interests, Achievements & Hobbies
After all the professional facts it’s good to list a range of personal interests that give the recruiter an idea of your creativity, personality and enthusiasm. A recruiter is just as interested in your ‘fit’ with the company as much as your skills and experience.
When your interests are also relevant to the role in question that is an added bonus and you should use it to your advantage. Avoid lists and expand a little bit where possible.
References should be from a previous employer who can vouch for your character, skills and experience. If you haven’t worked before you can use a teacher or tutor as a referee. Include two if you can.
It’s ok to lie a little bit on your CV, right? Wrong! It really isn’t worth the risk. If you are lucky enough to get to interview you may be questioned on what you claim to have experience in. That’s an awkward one to get out of. Even if you do make it through the interview stage and are offered your dream job, most offers are ‘subject to references’. Are you confident that your referees are going to tell the same lies? And further down the line, when you have managed to wriggle into your dream job, remember that you will be expected to know everything you have claimed…
As many CV updates are made years apart - as you move from one job to the next – your formatting preferences have changed but your original CV hasn’t. Therefore you need to check back to ensure you are using the same style, updating the whole document if necessary. For example, if you are using bullet points, use the same type all the way through (don’t change from dots to dashes), and if you list your work experience with the Date first, don’t switch to listing Job Title first half way through.
Keep the document ‘clean’. Fancy fonts won’t win you a job. Stick to something that is clear, smart and easily readable. Take care with your spacing and give each section a clear heading. Text boxes are actually quite unhelpful - recruiters will need to remove your contact details and add their logo before sending you forward for a job, and textboxes just cause formatting issues. Finally, always write in the 1st person, and save your CV in Word format.
Employers DO look for mistakes on CVs. Faced with an enormous pile of applications employers will use the excuse of your avoidable errors to add you to the no pile. ALWAYS use a spellchecker and, if possible, ask someone else to double-check what you've written.
Ready to start?
Why not use our CV template (you can find this below) and bring your own CV right up to date, then send it to us so we can help you find the role that’s right for you. We just have one request: when sending us your CV please don’t send it as a PDF. PDFs cause issues when loading onto our system so Word format is best.