Top 10 tips to writing a winning CV
The next step for many students after their studies is to get a great job, and in order to do this you need to have a top-notch CV that will make you stand out and draw employers to you.
You want to come across professional, organised and confident.
The team and INTO Univeristy of Gloucestershire tell us their essential top 10 tips for writing the perfect CV.
1. Get the key points
The main points that everyone should have on their CV are:
- Full Name
- Current Job Title or ‘Graduate’/‘Student’
- LinkedIn Account – employers will look you up on LinkedIn
- Contact Phone
- Email address (not email@example.com, make a new one)
- Personal Statement/Profile
- Employment History/Work Experience
- Skills (e.g. ICT skills or specific software that is related to your job)
2. Bonus points
- Languages – what ones do you speak? Either conversationally or fluently.
- Interests/Experience – related to the job. When applying to work for an international company, having interest in travel or blogging if you’re applying for a marketing company.
- Interests not to include – drinking, shopping, partying with friends, playing Xbox. (Employers don’t need to know that you do this)
3. You’re the headline!
Don’t write CV or Curriculum Vitae as the main title for your CV. It’s your CV – you’re the star here so put your name as the main title.
Mr/Ms Vitae isn’t applying for the job – you are!
4. The answer is in the question
Read the job description thoroughly highlighting key words and phrasing.
If they say there are looking for someone who is ‘confident and hardworking’ write in your personal statement/profile ‘confident and hardworking’ (only if you are). If the job includes travel opportunities ‘I am willing and interested to travel for work’ (again only if you are).
Make sure your CV has all the keywords you have highlighted.
5. Everyone should have 3 CVs.
CV 1 – with everything you have ever done written down. All your experience, all jobs and all achievements. By having this one you will save you time re-writing sections each time it comes up.
CV 2 – your CV’s framework; just the very basic information, your qualifications and most recent experience. Leave it as generic as possible, then you will fill in the details depending on the job.
CV 3 – the one you send off the employer. Use CV 2 as a starting point and select the information from CV 1 that is appropriate for this job. Some of your achievements might be great, but they must be relevant for this particular job. CV 3 won’t include everything but it will include the most significant parts for the employer.
6. Keep it to 2 sides
Employers read hundreds of CVs and can get bored of doing so.
Don’t go over 2 sides of A4. If it doesn’t fit on – cut it out. Be brutal. Keep your experience to bullet points that include only the key qualities outlined in the job description.
It might be amazing that you trained dolphins in Florida, but if you’re applying for bank job they don’t need to read details of your experience that isn’t at all related. “Trained dolphins” in the hobbies section is enough detail.
When you have 25 years’ experience then you can go on to 3 pages.
7. Be creative
If you’re an art, media or design student then show your creativity in your CV. It’s an industry standard that for certain jobs like Graphic Designer that the applications CV will be artistic and a bit different.
Make sure your creative flair stands out from the crowd!
Note: this is only appropriate for creative industry jobs. For business and finance industry jobs be more formal.
8. Formal doesn’t mean boring
Having a CV for a formal job doesn’t mean you have to use Times New Roman, size 10.
Employers look at hundreds of CVs and yours has to be one that stands out and catch their eye. Choose an interesting font for your name and make it the main focus, then you can have a simpler font for the rest.
9. Selfie time?!
There is much discussion on whether to include a photo on your CV, some people say do, some people say don’t.
While modern employers might be ok with a photo it might be frowned upon by a more traditional type. It can be risky so I would say avoid it.
10. Proof read!
Get somebody else to check your CV for typos, spelling and grammar mistakes.
As you wrote your CV, you know what you want it to say and so often you’ll read it as such. Get a fresh set of eyes on it to double check for mistakes.
Check: you have your new phone number down, and not your old one!
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