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A winning CV is the base for every successful candidate. Putting time and effort into this important document will ensure that those who read it will get the best first impression of you and a solid overview of your experience and education. Here are our top tips to ensure your CV stands out.
First and foremost, remember that a CV is a snapshot of you; it shouldn’t be more than two sides of A4 so that the information is easily readable and won’t put off any potential employers. Keep in mind how busy the individuals reading your CV might be, so make it short, snappy and memorable.
Always start a CV off with your contact details – your name, professional e-mail address, and contact number. Never include your age, religion, race or marital status, as these are factors that shouldn’t be taken into account by employers during the hiring process.
Consider including an opening personal biography; a few sentences outlining your experience and what you are looking to achieve with a new role. This is your opportunity to make a strong first impression, so be concise and ensure that anything you put here is reflected in the rest of the document.
Lay your information out chronologically. Begin with your work experience followed by your education. You should list your most recent or current position first, followed by your previous four or five positions; there is little need to go further than this, unless you feel the positions and experience you gained are particularly relevant to the role you are applying for. Earlier positions can be described in less detail. Remember to explain any gaps you may have had, whether they are due to deciding to have a career break, for study, or travelling.
Quantify appropriate information to make a real impact – increasing business output by 40% is more eye-catching than increasing business output, for example.
In terms of education, your qualifications and evidence of further study are the most important pieces of education to display, and only include accreditations such as GCSEs if you feel them to be completely necessary. Remember to include any professional qualifications and make it clear whether you are fully or part-qualified, or currently studying.
Including reference contact details should be avoided – not only are these likely to change frequently, but it’s more professional to state that references “are available upon request.” Additionally, you are more likely to be contacted prior to interview rather than the employer going straight to your references.
In terms of formatting, keep it simple!
- Use a font size no smaller than 11 and typeface Arial or Times New Roman.
- Always use bullet-points to keep sections concise and highlight significant facts.
- Use appropriate headings and section breaks to ensure it’s easy to read and that potential employers can find information without hassle.
- Don’t include a photo as this can contravene equality and diversity measures within businesses.
Finally, always check for spelling and grammatical errors, as these will always be picked up and reflect badly on you. Remember that spell checking software doesn’t correct words if they are spelled correctly but are in the wrong context (i.e. there and their) so keep an eye out for these common errors. Furthermore, make sure you change your contact details after moving house or obtaining a new phone number so that you are always reachable. Getting someone else to read over your CV is always helpful – ask family, friends or consultants to double-check your details.