How to write the perfect CV
You may have seen the recent story of unemployed media studies graduate Adam Pacitti, from the Isle of Wight, who spent his last £500 on a billboard poster and a video CV to advertise his availability for new work.
Not many of us have the creativity, capability, or resources to do what Adam has done – and there’s no guarantee that such an approach will work.
Video CVs are growing in popularity but the two-sides-of-A4 approach is still the industry norm. And it’s worth getting yours right as a CV is undeniably a crucial part of any job application. In fact along with the covering letter it is one of the key steps in getting your foot through the door.
So Jobsite has spoken to award-winning agency Flair 4 Recruitment, with an office in Sutton Harbour, whose director Leah Burrows offered the following tips on how to write the perfect CV.
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She said: “Getting your CV right is crucial as it the first thing you will be judged on, and it is the key to getting an interview. Following these guidelines should give you a great head start in the job hunt. Good luck!”
1. Get the basic structure right. Start with your personal details, then include a concise personal statement. Next up should be around five ‘Key Skills’ – keep these as specific as possible. Good examples could include ‘Confident Windows 7 user including Excel, Word, and PowerPoint’ or ‘Experienced Audio Typist – 70 wpm’. Next would be either your Education and Qualifications or Experience and Employment – put your strongest details first. End the CV with a brief ‘Interests’ section and finally ‘References’.
2. Presentation and layout are vital – recruiters judge a CV quickly so ensure it has a clean, simple layout. Bullet points are the best way to highlight your experience and skills. Avoid any long paragraphs as it is unlikely they will be read. Use a standard font such as Arial 10 or 11. Highlight headings in bold. Also avoid being too quirky to stand out from the crowd – wacky and arty styles, intended to grab the recruiters attention, often have the opposite effect.
3. Spelling and grammar need to perfect – no excuses! Use a spellcheck and ask a friend to go through it carefully for you.
4. Keep it concise – no more than 2 pages. Any longer and you will lose the reader’s interest. Give more detail to the most recent role and just a brief summary of previous roles.
5. It is a competitive market out there – it is a great idea to mention any skills or interests that make you stand out. Volunteer work, sporting achievements, or anything else which has received recognition or awards, should all be mentioned. It demonstrates that you are a well-rounded person who can go the ‘extra mile’.
6. Make sure it is tailored to either the specific industry or role you are interested in, or keep it deliberately vague if you are happy to be considered for a range of roles. A common mistake is to put in your opening statement that you are looking for a career within, say, marketing, whilst applying for a finance role.
7. Draw on your previous experience as much as possible – if you lack much work experience then make the most of any transferable skills you used during education or within sport or personal interests. It all helps.
8. Finally, ensure the CV is up to date and don’t put any fibs!