On the hunt for a new job? Your first step should be to make sure you have an up-to-date CV that highlights your experience and key skills. A good CV is concise, well-written and professionally presented. It needs to catch the recruiter’s eye, keep them interested and emphasis your strengths, giving you the best possible chance of an interview.
If you don’t have a CV or you think your current CV might be holding you back, keep reading.
What to include on your CV
Name and contact details
You’d think this would be a no brainer but you’d be surprised how often we see CVs with missing or out-of-date personal details.
There’s no need to use “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae” as a title. Your name should be the title and should be positioned at the top of the page with your contact details. Your phone number and email address are essential, your address less so – but you may wish to still include it. If you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile (and you should), then you can include the URL i.e. www.linkedin.com/in/yourname/
Your personal statement is an opportunity to give prospective employers an idea of who you are and what you’re about. You can reference your skills, outline your career objectives and talk about what you would bring to your new role. A personal profile may only be 75 words long but it sets the tone for the rest of the CV, so it’s important that you get it right.
Don’t be afraid to tailor your statement to the job you’re applying for or the agency that you’re signing up with, and even if your circumstances have been difficult – a period of unemployment for example – make sure you’re always emphasising the positives.
This section provides you with the opportunity to talk about any previous employment or work experience.
List roles chronologically, most recent first, and make sure you include your job title, name of the organisation you worked for and the dates you worked there. This should be accompanied by a paragraph that succinctly outlines the responsibilities of the role and your achievements while in post. You could also tailor this section to the job you’re applying for by talking about the responsibilities most relevant to that role.
The qualifications section is where you can list any academic qualifications – for example, A-Levels, your degree – and also any vocational or professional qualifications you may have gained. List your qualifications in chronological order, most recent first, and be sure to include details of any modules or assignments relevant to the role you’re applying for.
You may wish to include a section on your CV where you outline key skills that you’ve acquired either during education or in previous roles. This could be a simple multi-column list of skills, or you may wish to list a skill then elaborate further. Skills-based CVs are useful for people with limited work history (i.e. graduates), or those who have had spells of unemployment.
How to format your CV
Two sides of A4 is typical for a CV, with three the absolute maximum. Recruiters are often discouraged by long CVs and prefer to see a document that quickly and efficiently outlines a candidate’s qualities.
If you’re a graduate or school leaver with limited work experience you may find a single side of A4 is sufficient to include your personal statement and qualifications, but it may be wise to look at producing a skills-based CV. This format will allow you to outline and elaborate on the key skills you developed during education or work placements.
Use short sentences and get to the point. A CV is the worst place to start waffling – you have limited space and the recruiter or employer has dozens of other CVs to work through.
Bullet points and lists are a great way to draw attention to your key skills or other relevant information. They allow recruiters to quickly find the information they need and can encourage them to consider the rest of your CV.
Don’t include irrelevant information. Your CV should only include information relevant to the role you’re applying for, so if you’re applying for several roles that are quite different, it may be necessary to produce several different CVs for each. A little later we’ll recommend including hobbies and interests – but only if this information is relevant and adds value! Everything in your CV should be pertinent and should be there to help convince an employer that you’re right for the role you’re applying for.
Don’t be afraid of white space – cramming everything tightly onto a single page can make things difficult to follow.
Use a clean, professional-looking font. Something like Arial, Calibri, Helvetica or Roboto. Times New Roman or similar is fine if you prefer a more traditional vibe, but don’t use cursive or handwritten fonts as these are difficult to read. Never use Comic Sans!
Don’t increase font size to try and fill two pages, but likewise don’t decrease it so as to make your CV illegible. 10 or 11 point is typical and if you find you’re not able to fill two pages, are you sure you can’t find something more to say about your key skills and prior experience? Whilst your CV should be succinct, it offers an opportunity to emphasise your qualities as a candidate. You should consider anything that might help you stand out from the crowd, including information about your hobbies and interests if you feel they’re relevant to the role or will communicate something about your character.
Include a covering letter
While it’s important that your CV has been put together with the role you’re applying for in mind, it’s often necessary to produce a separate document where you can address the requirements in the job specification in more detail. Not all employers request a covering letter but it’d be wise to write one nonetheless. A single side of A4 should do it, written in the form of a typical letter and addressed to the employer. Tackle each of the essential requirements and as many of the desired requirements as possible, and also spend some time outlining why you’d be perfect for the role in question. Send it alongside your CV to increase your chance of getting that all important interview.
Struggling? Use our CV writing service
At M65Jobsearch we understand that writing a CV can be a daunting task. Whether you don’t have a CV at all or are worried that your current CV is proving ineffective, we can help.
We’re recruiters ourselves so we know exactly what hiring managers are looking for. We’ll use this knowledge to showcase your skills and experience, producing a compelling document that employers won’t be able to ignore. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a recent graduate, an experienced professional in your field or someone looking to return to work after a period of unemployment, our expertise will help you stand out from the crowd.