Searching for a job can be a frustrating task, at times it can be disheartening facing rejection or being pipped to the post in the final interview stage.
Creating a standout CV can help with improving your first impression, it’s an opportunity to highlight your skills and accomplishments, and show the employer what qualities you have to bring to the role.
It can be a time-consuming task, but worth it when you land yourself the dream role. Take a look at our step by step below to see how to create your own impressive CV.
What is a CV?
Before we get stuck into tips and tricks to improve your CV, it’s important to cover the basics. Used when applying for jobs, a CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a document that contains a summary of your experience, skills and education, as well as short personal statement. Creating a CV presents you with the opportunity to highlight to your abilities to a potential employer.
A CV is often submitted alongside a cover letter, this acts as a front cover for your CV and should be written with a specific job role in mind. The more you can relate it to the vacancy you’re applying for, the better chance you have at making a good first impression.
Step 1 – Consider what to include
Name and Contact Details
Knowing what details to include can be a bit of a grey area. There used to be an expectation of including your full address on your CV, but now it’s not as important. Ensure you include your full name and a telephone number so that you can be contacted, if you have an email address add that on too. You may choose to add in your LinkedIn profile, but only do this if you keep your profile updated.
This is a personal statement that draws attention to your attributes and relevant skills. It’s essentially a concise overview that tells prospective employers who you are. Try to tailor your profile to each job you apply for, as it’s only a short paragraph, this shouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience and can be of great value to you.
Employment History and Experience
In this section you should include information about any previous job roles, internships or work experience that you have. List your experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent role featuring at the top, the chances are this is the most relevant to the job role you’re applying for, and what the employer will be most interested in.
For each previous role, you should include the job title, the company name, the dates you worked there, and a short summary of the role that includes key responsibilities, skills and achievements.
Education and Qualifications
Much like the employment history section, this should be listed in reverse chronological order with the most recent qualification featured first.
Include information such as the qualification name/level, the institution where you received it from, your grade, the dates you studied between, and a summary of any relevant modules or assignments.
This part of your CV doesn’t need to take up a lot of space. If you have some key skills that relate to the role, then this is the time to note them down. Perhaps you’re proficient in using a certain IT software or you’re an experienced team leader.
Interests and Hobbies
There are two ways to approach this section of your CV, you could choose to include hobbies/interests that relate to the role you’re applying to, perhaps you’re applying for a role in Content Marketing and in your spare time you write your own blog. If you can find a way to relate it to the role fantastic, but don’t skip it if you can’t.
Some people may feel that including interests that don’t relate to the role is a waste of space, but an employer will want to learn about you as a person, as well as your experience and abilities. They want to know whether you’re the right person for their team, providing them with some of your interests will help in doing that. It also creates a talking point in an interview or even once you’ve been offered a job and are just getting to know each other.
Step 2 – Length
There is no one size fits all for a CV, it can be dependent on your previous work experience. If you’ve just finished college or university, you may have little to write about in terms of work experience and employment history. Whereas if you’ve been working for a number of years, you may have much more to discuss.
Our top tip is to keep whatever you write about concise and to the point, utilise bullet points to help you do this.
It’s also important to make sure the prospective employer can read your CV. If you’re struggling to fit all the information on one page, don’t try to squeeze it in. Making the font too small or adding too much information to one page could make your CV messy and unreadable.
Step 3 – Format
The format of your CV is important, and whilst there is no set layout, there are certain expectations of how it should look. As previously mentioned, any employment history, experience or education should be presented in reverse chronological order.
Your name and contact details should feature at the top of your cv, let your name serve as a title for the document and avoid titling it as ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’ as this just uses vital space on your page.
Your profile/personal statement should feature below you contact details and from there you can format it how you like, but keep in mind what is relevant. Your employment history and education count for a lot more than your interests.
Let’s look at some specifics for how to format your CV:
Choose a font that is clear and professional, the usual favourites would be Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman.
For your main body of text, use font size 10 or 12. For Headings up it to font size 14 or 16, and put them in bold.
These are a great way to break up your CV, each section should be introduced by a heading.
Page margins should be kept at roughly 2.5cm, if you make them too small your CV will look too busy, making it hard to read.
Including your information in the form of bullet points is a great way to add lots of details, that the employer can easily skim over and pick out the important points.
Step 4 – How does it look
Once you’ve followed the basic steps to format your CV there is plenty of opportunity to play around with the look of your CV. You could perhaps consider adding a pop of colour, something subtle, that’s still professional, but will stand out when an employer is skimming through the applications they have received.
Of course, the content is the most important element of your CV, it’s what’s going to land you an interview or even a job offer, but it would be naïve to disregard adding a little something extra to help your CV standout. Providing it’s done tastefully and in a professional manner, it could make the world of difference to you.
Consider the role you are applying for as well, if it’s with a creative firm then you should show off your flair for creativity.
Step 5 – Important considerations
Now you’re aware of what you should look to include in your CV, it’s time to look at the final considerations. These extras can help you to really create the best CV you possibly could.
This should be an obvious consideration. It is unprofessional to submit a cv that is riddled with mistakes. Get a friend, family member or colleague to check over your work for any grammatical mistakes.
Tailor your content
To an extent, you CV should be tailored to the job you are applying to, especially your personal statement. Check out the company’s website and social media, what buzzwords do they use, what is their brand message? Use this research to almost personalise your CV to suit the role and the company you’re applying to.
Try to avoid generic phrases
Anyone can say they’re a hard worker or a team player, it’s important that you show the employer this through your experience and skills.
Never lie about your abilities
We all have a tendency to try and make ourselves look the best possible version of ourselves when applying for jobs. Try to be as honest and true to yourself as possible, chances are if you get hired and you’ve exaggerated or even lied about your skill set, you’ll quickly get found out. In a new job, you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot and lying on your CV could certainly lead to this.
There you have it, our step by step to creating a great CV. We hope this guide helps you to improve your CV and consequently improve your chances at landing your dream job!