Your CV is an opportunity to showcase your skills, talents and expertise to a potential employer, so it’s vital you get it right.
It will usually be the first point of contact a potential employer has with you, and they’ll probably only spend seconds looking at it.
To stand a chance of scoring an interview, you need to reel them in and make them want to see more. You need to highlight the most important information in a clear and succinct way.
Whilst the rules of CV writing aren’t set in stone, there are certain things every CV should include.
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to include a full range of contact options.
Include your address, telephone number and email address, and make sure they’re all current. Put them at the top, right under your name, so they’re immediately obvious.
The hilarious email address you’ve had since you were a teenager won’t seem so amusing to potential employers – make sure your email address is appropriately professional.
If you have a website or blog that will add value, you can include its URL too.
It’s not necessary to include your date of birth, gender or nationality – employers are required by law to ignore this information anyway.
Your career history will be the part of your CV potential employers are most interested in, so make it a good read.
This section of your CV should tell a story about you. Be descriptive and showcase relevant skills, experience and achievements in your professional history to accentuate the value you could bring to your potential employer.
You don’t need to list every job you’ve ever done. Keep it relevant to the job you’re applying for, and explain any gaps in your employment.
If you’re just starting out in your career, include details of any volunteering or work experience you’ve done and emphasise any relevant skills you developed.
Keywords from the job description
Study the job description carefully and research the company’s mission statement and values. Pick out some keywords and phrases to incorporate into your CV.
If you have a career objective or personal statement on your CV, this could be a good place to include some carefully placed keywords. Alternatively, work them into your career history to demonstrate the relevance of your experience.
Including keywords will show that you’re the right person for the job as well as that you’ve paid attention to what the employer is looking for.
This is especially important for online applications, which are often screened for keywords by computer software before anyone sees them.
Achievements, awards and training
Potential employers want evidence of what you’ve done to contribute to the growth of your team, department or organisation so they can gauge whether you’ll be an asset to them.
Use this section to highlight any relevant professional achievements, awards you’ve received and industry training you’ve participated in.
This can help your application stand out, and may make for a good conversation starter if you’re successful in getting an interview.
Keep things recent and relevant to the job you’re applying for – a potential employer is unlikely to be impressed that you were East Grinstead’s under-13 falconry champion in 1984.
Education and qualifications
It’s vital to include details of your education and academic qualifications, especially if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for.
The information you provide here will vary depending on what stage you’re at in your career and what level of education you reached.
If you have a degree and years of work experience, you probably don’t need to include your GCSE results.
However, if you’re a recent graduate with a strong academic record, including some exam results may help you to stand out from your competitors.