How to write a good CV

When you apply for a job, you will be required to submit a curriculum vitae (CV).  This gives potential employers a glimpse of your qualifications and experience and allows them to decide whether to invite you for an interview. With so much riding on your curriculum vitae, it’s important to get it right.

While submitting a CV is a simple process, effective CV writing isn’t necessarily straightforward.  Employers receive thousands of CVs, so making sure yours stands out from the crowd should be a top priority.  To get started, take a look at these top tips and learn how to write an effective CV:

Experiment with Layouts

Most employers value CVs that have a simple and straightforward layout as this makes it easy for them to scan the document and absorb relevant information.  However, a distinct layout can help to set your CV apart, which is advantageous when it comes to grabbing the reader’s attention.

The layout of your CV includes the page structure, font, line spacing and paragraph length, so experiment with different settings to see which works best.  While some sectors, such as law and medicine, favour more traditional layouts, more creative industries, such as marketing and design are more suited to experimental layouts.

Chronological vs Skills-Based

If you want to know how to write a CV for a job application, choosing a chronological or skills-based format is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.  A chronological CV lists your academic qualifications and work experience in reverse chronological order (starting with the most recent first), while a skills-based CV focuses predominantly on your skills, regardless of how or where they were honed.

A skills-based CV can be a good option if you don’t have much work experience, as it allows you to incorporate skills you have developed in a non-workplace setting.  However, chronological CVs are more traditional so, if in doubt, use a reverse chronological format for effective CV writing.

Create a Striking Header

The header is the first thing a reader notices about your CV, so make sure it stands out and contains relevant information.  Here, your name should be in large, bold font and you may choose to include your current job title too. In addition to this, it’s good practice to include your contact details in the header, as it makes it easy for potential employers to get in touch with you.

As well as including a phone number and postal address, be sure to incorporate your email address too.  Most CVs are now submitted digitally, so ensure your email address is featured via a clickable link. Similarly, you may want to add a link to an online portfolio, if it’s relevant, or your LinkedIn profile.

Craft a Personal Statement

Immediately after the header, you should include a personal statement that encapsulates what you can offer and why you’re the best candidate for the role.  You’ll need to keep your personal statement relatively short, so think about the elements of your experience, qualifications and personality that are most relevant and aim to showcase them within 3-4 sentences.

Remember – write a unique personal statement for every job you apply for.  It’s tempting to re-use the same personal statement, but your CV should be tailored to the specific role you’re applying for and not mass produced.

Add Work Experience and Qualifications

Potential employers will want to know what experience you have, as well as the qualifications you’re currently studying for and those you’ve already completed.  When adding work experience to your CV, include relevant information such as job title, company, time spent employed, key responsibilities and achievements.

You don’t need to include every job you’ve ever had but it is important to explain any gaps in your employment history.  If you’re a current student and don’t have much work experience, there’s no need to panic.  When adding your academic qualifications, be sure to include the date of your graduation, as well as the course and college you’re studying at, so that employers can see that you’re still in education.

Proofread Your CV…Twice!

HR managers and hiring managers see hundreds of CVs, and documents with typos or errors are often the first to be discarded.  If you want to know how to write an effective CV, then proofreading is an essential tip that should never be overlooked! Ideally, ask a close friend or family member to proofread the document as well, as they may pick up on errors that you’ve missed.

Drafting a Winning CV

A CV only needs to be a couple of pages long but there’s a lot of information you need to include in such a short document.  With practice and perseverance, however, you can hone your skills and use effective CV writing to land your dream job.

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How to Write an Effective CV!