How to write a killer CV!

Did you know on average, recruiters will spend no more than 5-10 seconds looking at your CV?

We've covered tips on how to get a job interview. Now we are digging a little deeper into the CV with our advice on what makes a great one.

What is a CV?

A short document standing in the way between you and that all-important interview.

CV stands for curriculum vitae, which is Latin, meaning: "course of life". Because getting a job isn't stressful enough, someone had to add Latin into the mix. ūü§∑

What is important is that this is the document that tells an employer about you Your experience, education, abilities and your personality.

How long should a CV be? ūüďú

There are no hard and fast rules. But, the person reading it doesn't have a lot of time. So try and keep it short, our advice would be to keep it to one page, two at most.

Space on a CV is precious, so keep it relevant and recent. You don't need to cover your entire education. Cover what is relevant and recent, such as your important academic achievements.

If in doubt, ask yourself if the information sells you. If it doesn't cut it out.

What to include in a CV

Include:

  • Your full name

  • Home address

  • Mobile number

  • Email address

Don't include:

  • Date of birth

  • Unless the job advert asks for one, don't include a photograph

  • Social profiles

Start with a profile:

A CV profile is a short sentence or two that describes you and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Such as: "I am enthusiastic, self-motivated, and responsible. I am outgoing and thrive in customer-facing roles"

Try to make your profile relevant for the job. For example, if the job is working with people, say "I like working with people".

Keep CV personal statements short and snappy and try to inject your personality. This is your first impression so be yourself.

Education:

List and date all your education. Put the most recent first with more detail. Such as qualifications and grades. If you're still studying put that top of the list. The easy rule here, is again, relevant and recent.

If you've done or are doing a degree, for example, don't waste a lot of space on your GCSEs. 

ūüĎ∑¬†Work experience: ¬†

This depends on how much experience you have. The golden rule is, yet again, relevant and recent. Put your most recent experience first. Highlight the duties that overlap with the role/s you are applying for.

Top tip: If you have lots of relevant work experience. Put this section before your education.

Include your job title and the name of the company. How long you worked there and your key responsibilities. The more these are relevant to the job you're applying for the more detail you should add.

Achievements / Skills:

This is a bit of a catch-all section where you can list your relevant skills. There is no point in listing your Liam Neeson skill set when applying to be a barista.

Set of skills

The key skills that you list should be relevant to the job / a potential benefit to the employer. Such as a second language, or an understanding of a technology or software they use.

Anything that could save them time with training or can give you added value. Don't exaggerate your skills and where possible focus on job-specific skills.

Interests:

Stop, it's a TRAP!

Most employers are not interested in your interests. Again, unless it is relevant to the job. Don't bother telling them you like "going to the cinema" or "playing the guitar" if it's not relevant to the job they won't care.

Top tip: Make your interests job-relevant, enjoy playing football? Talk about how it's made you a good team player. Part of a drama group? Explain how this has helped your confidence in talking to people. Active on social media? Write about how you understand trends.

References:

Have some good personal and professional references available. Ask them in advance if you can. Explain the sort of roles you are applying for and tell them why you want the job. It will make it easier for them to provide a good reference for you.

You don't need to provide the names of referees at this stage.

If you have the space "references available upon request" is a good line, but if you're tight for space cut it out.

Here are our quick CV tips:

  • Title: Don't use CV or curriculum vitae. Let your name be the title.

  • Use headings: They break the CV. Use a large font and bold text.

  • Fonts: Easy, don't use Comic Sans! Use something professional and easy to read, Calibri, Times New Roman or Arial. Pick a readable font size using size 4 to get a one page CV is not a "hack". 10 - 12 is acceptable.¬†

  • Relevant and recent: Keep your CV relevant and make sure the most recent is at the top.

  • Use bullet points to highlight things: It catches attention, but don't overuse them.

  • Name your saved CV: - Don't save it as "CV", use your name "John-Smith-CV".

  • Use spell check: Obvious, but nothing is more off-putting on a CV than a typo in the first line.

  • Tailor your CV: Know about the company before you apply. Look at their website and social media accounts. Google them and see if they have recent news, and check them out on Breakroom and discover what it is really like.

  • Don't lie: This is obvious, tell the truth. You should sell yourself the best you can with your CV but don't oversell it.

  • Finally, if you have gaps in your CV try and explain them: Nobody's CV is perfect, so be honest now as it is easier to do it now than later on.

One thing we've not covered is the Cover Letter. We'll be covering how to write a winning cover letter very soon, so watch out for that.

If you’re applying for a new job check out the company on Breakroom and find out what it’s really like to work there. 

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*Did you know on average, recruiters will spend no more than 5-10 seconds looking at your CV?

Published on 24 February 2022