How to Craft the Perfect CV
Your CV represents the chance to impress prospective employees. It’s your chance to craft a persuading message that will effectively sell yourself and your skills.
Think of your CV as a shop window. Good presentation has the potential to entice and sell, whereas as a bad display can discourage people from coming into your shop. Your shop window has to be attractive, clear and interesting. This is your first point of sale – make sure it has the desired impact.
How should my CV be structured?
- To start, be sure to include your name and contact information – this should include your telephone number, email and address. There’s no need to include your date or birth unless you are specifically asked.
- Follow personal information with a brief synopsis of your skills, experience and personality. Ideally, this should be no more than 3 sentences. This will give employers a quick and concise overview which will immediately grab their attention.
- Employment history should then follow starting with your most recent job. List your duties and key responsibilities clearly. The should be tailored to the specific industry in which you are applying for job. Do not ramble; be concise and succinct. Cover letters and applications forms are your chance to elaborate on your experience. For each position you’ve held, make sure to include the name of the company, dates of employment to the nearest month and your job role.
- Education comes next. Here you should list your qualifications in order of latest achievement i.e. degree (or higher), A Levels, then GCSEs (or equivalents). Within this section, again be concise and be sure to add any relevant training courses or additional qualifications that you have obtained.
- Interest & hobbies should be included if they present you as a proactive individual and representing transferable skills. Captaining a sports team demonstrates qualities such as leadership and the ability to be a team player, whilst listing involvement in charity activity represents your emotional intelligence and ability to help others.
- Your CV should end with your references. As most employees will not check your references until later in the recruitment process, it is common practice to simply write – “Reference available on request”. If your prospective employer would like your references straight away, be sure to have two ready – one should be from your current employer.
What is the most effective layout?
Formatting your CV is just as important as the information it contains. Here are a few pointers that will ensure your name is top of the pile:
- Use a simple, common, widely recognised typeface such as Arial, Time New Roman or Lucida Sans. These are fonts designed for clarity. Artistic or gimmicky fonts do not covey professionalism and may put many employers off.
- Use subheadings to highlight different categories i.e. employment history, education etc. This helps employers go immediately to the information that they are most interested in.
- Bullet points not only present order, but they also help the reader to efficiently retain information with less effort, categorising copy into shorter and more succinct sections. Use them throughout to define your key responsibilities.
- A good rule of thumb is to use an 18 point font size for your name at the top, each subheading should be 14 points and the body font should 10 points. This will allow the CV to look uncluttered, whilst allowing for more on-page content.
Our Top Tips
There are no hard and fast rules, CV writing is not set in stone. follow these simple tips to appeal to a majority audience.
- Make sure you cover any gaps in employment e.g. maternity breaks, travelling etc. If you don’t employers will be suspicious.
- If possible keep your CV to 2 pages or a maximum of 3. Any more than this will be too much and probably won’t get read.
- Always check and double check your CV. A spelling mistake may mean that you go straight to the ‘no’ pile.
If you need more advice with regards to crafting the perfect CV, simply ring 0845 475 3392 (International: +44-1-204-368070) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.