The key to writing a CV that opens doors for you.

In my third blog about standing out from the crowd, I share my top tips for writing a CV to help you unlock the door to that all-important interview.

Your CV is usually the first opportunity for you to catch a potential employer’s eye, so it’s important to make sure that it shows you in the best possible light.

Keep it simple. Choose a layout that is clear, simple and professional. Bullet points are good for listing skills. Avoid jargon, acronyms, fancy fonts or dazzling designs. Your CV needs to be easy to read by both humans and software tools, so leave space between sections and use a large enough font size. A good CV is rarely longer than two sides of A4.

One size does not fit all. There is nothing more frustrating than a ‘template’ CV application. No matter what role you are applying for, tailor your CV to fit that role. Show that you understand the organisation that you are applying to and explain how you will add value with your skills and experience.

Strong foundations. Get your CV structure right and everything else will flow. Be sure to include:

  1. Contact details – phone and email
  2. A personal summary – a short overview stating your experience relating to the specific job role you are applying for
  3. Key skills – a section highlighting relevant skills
  4. Experience – list your work history (most recent first) and be sure to include volunteering and work placements where applicable
  5. Qualifications – include all relevant qualifications, training and professional or industry standards and memberships
  6. Mention hobbies and interests, but keep it short

Check and check some more! Whatever anyone may say, spelling and good grammar are still extremely important to employers, so make sure there are no silly mistakes in your CV. Don’t rely on the spell check function. Asking someone else to cast a fresh pair of eyes over your CV is a good strategy.

Provide examples. It’s very easy to lapse into well-worn buzzwords such as ‘team player’, ‘excellent communicator’, or ‘innovator’. Only use them if you can back them up with examples.

Tackle the career gap. If you have a gap in your CV, don’t try to sweep it under the carpet. Be honest and open and be sure to highlight skills or experience gained during those gaps. Experience comes in all shapes and sizes and does not have to be gained in a workplace setting.

Searchability. It’s important to make sure that your CV is online search-friendly. Many larger employers use Application Tracking System (ATS) software to manage their recruitment process. ATS scans CVs for keywords that demonstrate an applicant has the essential skills and experience for the role and then ranks them in order of suitability ready for the human stage of filtering. Do some research on the employer and role and include relevant keywords.

For my next blog, I’ll be sharing my top tips for interview preparation.

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Darran Crellin

Director, Fletcher George Financial Recruitment