10 Steps to writing a successful CV
Writing your CV can sometimes be an arduous task, or let’s be honest, a task some of us just don’t have the time to do. But the CV is a powerful tool to opening many doors. It’s the golden ticket between yourself and potentially, your dream job. If you’re writing your CV for the first time or are looking for some top tips to make your CV more successful, below in no particular order are my 10 steps to writing a compelling CV!
1. Don’t write a book
Although I’m sure you have many achievements and responsibilities in your last roles, keep your CV concise. Your CV should be 2 pages long (3 at an absolute max). If you’re struggling to get your CV down to 2 pages remember to use bullet points, use narrow margins and ask yourself is this information relevant to the job I’m applying for
2. Make it specific
We’ve all sent our same CV out to multiple employers to save time, but I strongly urge you to stop (take the quality over quantity approach here). Take a moment to think about the job and company you’re applying for and what parts of your experience/achievements are most relevant to it. If you’re not sure where to start with this, read the job advert, research the company and if you’re working with a recruiter… ask them.
3. Tell the truth
It doesn’t matter if you put white lies on your CV right? Wrong. Although it’s very tempting to lie (or bend the truth) on a CV, just don’t do it. Obvious lies on your CV can lead to a whole heap of trouble especially if employers run a thorough background check. Or worse you’re unable to answer questions at interview stage on things you claim to know. And that can be VERY awkward! Clients will ALWAYS find out if you are lying or not…
4. Achievements, achievements and more achievements
Everything on your CV should be centred around what you have achieved in each role, not just your responsibilities. Numbers, pound signs and percentages really stand out on a CV and backing up your achievements with key performance metrics makes selling yourself much easier. Have you increased sales by 50% in six months? Put it on your CV! Although, don’t forgot point number 3…
5. Don’t leave gaps
Simply put, don’t leave obvious gaps in your employment history this will make employers suspicious. If you have ever been out of work, try to put a positive spin on what you did during that time. Were you caring for a loved one? Did you complete any courses? Do any volunteer work? Travel? But remember, don’t lie.
6. Keep it up to date
A great tip to making CV writing easier is to keep it up to date. If you develop a new skill or complete a qualification, then add it to your CV as you go. Make sure all your information is up to date – mobile number, email address and most importantly your most recent employer.
7. Read and re-read your CV
After you’ve written your CV, make sure you read it through multiple times. Imagine you are a hiring manager reading your CV for the first time. Ask yourself what’s your tone of voice like, can you make any changes to the language you’ve used and look for mistakes. Employers DO look for mistakes on CVs and if they find them, it makes you look bad, and quite honestly, not too bothered. David Hipkin, Head of Recruitment and resourcing at Reed Business Information, warns, ‘With most employers experiencing massive volumes of applicants right now, giving them the excuse to dismiss your application because of avoidable errors is not going to help you secure an interview.’ Ask friends, family or colleagues to read and spell check your CV (and read theirs, it could give you some ideas!)
8. Make your CV stand out.
Hiring managers and recruiters are potentially reading hundreds of CVs for 1 job, so you need to make your CV stand out and ultimately look good. Avoid bright colours, long wordy paragraphs and irrelevant pictures. Use the graphic design trick of leaving plenty of white space around text and between categories to make the layout easy on the eye. Although other recruiters may tell you differently, don’t put a photograph of yourself on your CV.
9. Keyword friendly
If you’re planning on uploading your CV to a job site, making your CV keyword friendly is really important. Job title and key job buzzwords will help recruiters find your CV when searching. For example, a marketing candidate might mention SEO, direct marketing and digital marketing among their experience and skills. If you’re not sure, have a search online and see what words are commonly mentioned when you input your job title. There is a fine line though…any more than 5 repetitions in your CV of a particular key word can make it look like you’re trying too hard to make it look like you have experience.
10. It’s not all about work
Your CV should be an insight into your life, after all, Curriculum Vitae is Latin for ‘course of life’. A hiring manager will want to know about your professional experience, yes. But they also want to know what you’re like as a person. What are your interests and hobbies? What do you like doing in your time outside of work? If you have any personal or sporting achievements get them on your CV. Social Media is a powerful tool, however it can also damage your chance of getting (and maintaining) a job. Check your privacy settings and make sure hiring managers can’t see anything inappropriate.
*Top tip: do some research on the hiring manager for the job you’re applying for. If you have any shared interests, make them clear on your CV. But don’t lie!*
If you would like further advice on your CV, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.