Looking for a new role, but not sure your current CV is up to the job?
If you’re starting from scratch, writing a great CV can seem like a significant and time-consuming task. And even if you’ve had previous experience of writing CVs, you might still be making the mistake of using the same one for every job.
Start with a personal statement tailored to the role in question.
In terms of structure, consciously try and answer the following questions:
Who are you? What do you have to offer? What are you aiming for in your career?
It’s also a good idea to avoid clichés, and quantify your attributes with specific examples from previous positions/education. Not only do they add value and a sense of realism to your statement, they also enhance your credibility.
When it comes to your employment history – write in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent jobs coming at the top.
Then, use your work experience to demonstrate your relevant skills and abilities. But don’t just focus on your daily duties; you should also talk about the accomplishments and achievements you gained from each role.
And if you have no employment history to speak of? It’s fine to leave this section out.
However, if your lack of experience is holding you back from the job you want – now’s your chance to be proactive. Whether you volunteer with a local charity for a few weeks or help out at a locally-run business – it’ll all help you to gain practical experience and prove your skills to employers.
Education should be included from GCSE (or equivalent) level onwards – in reverse-chronological order (with the most recent events at the top).
State the number qualifications achieved and general grades you received (Maths and English at the very least). If you’re awaiting results, you can state mock/expected results where possible; although this is not essential.
You can also include your degree classification, A level/IB (or equivalent) results and any other higher education diplomas if you have them.
Using particular course modules you’ve undertaken (that are relevant to the role) is also a great way to demonstrate your wider knowledge of the subject.
Hobbies & Interests
Although this section can help to get your personality across, it’s not an essential part of your CV.
So if you don’t have any, don’t feel like you have to include them – especially if overused clichés like ‘socialising with friends’ and ‘watching films’ are all you can think of.
Instead, only include hobbies are that are particularly unique (that you can expand on at an interview), prove your skills, and/or back up your motives for applying for the role.
If in doubt; ask yourself: will they help you get the job? If not, it’s best to leave them out.
Unless asked directly in the job posting, stating that references are available on request is fine.
However, always make sure you do have credible references.
Close family friends, teachers, or career councillors are all good options, and most are usually happy to help.
Final thoughts on CV format
Remember: this is a template, not a ready-made CV.
This means that it’ll only be effective if you actually put the work in. So before you get started – take some time to research the company and role, and think about how your skills and experience make you a good fit.
Then, do this for every single job you apply for. Because although you won’t have to completely rewrite your CV each time, making small changes that make it tailored to the job are essential.
Take a look at our CV help & tips for specific pointers on how to write yours.
Need more CV advice?
It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.
To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.
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