It’s daunting, it’s uncomfortable, it’s surrounded by rules and we all have to do it. Writing a CV is like putting yourself on sale, and everyone seems to be full of handy little tips that end up confusing you more than guiding you. Here's our guide to keeping it simple and writing a CV that will blow your future employers’ socks off...
Keep your CV to two pages or less
You have to be realistic when sending in a CV. Employers often have to trawl through tens or occasionally hundreds of applications when they are picking out candidates. They will immediately be put off by CVs that are unnecessarily bulky. Do them and yourself a favour and keep it short and snappy.
List your most impressive qualifications and achievements early on
Due to heavy workloads and increasing stress, potential employers may very well skim-read the first sift of applications, so make sure you make your most impressive attributes catch their eye early on. Don't embed them in a lengthy paragraph either; if you have a degree or a diploma then make sure your employer will pick this up by looking over your CV at a glance.
Work out what your employer would want in a candidate and show them why you've got it. When reading through applications, potential employers will have a series of boxes that they want to tick; work out what they are, and then highlight the relevant aspects of your previous experiences or qualifications. If there's a job advert, then this is your starting point.
Attach a covering letter
Make sure you attach a covering letter and use it to its full potential. This is your chance to show a little personality and display your enthusiasm. In your covering letter, you can explain why you want the job, highlight aspects of your CV that make you perfect for it and be confident. Never recycle covering letters. They should always be specific to the job you're applying for and you need to write a new one for every application. As with your CV, keep it short and simple. Don't go overboard with fancy fonts.
Don't forget the basic information
Name, address, phone number and email are all important. Try to put them at the head of your CV.
Make the most of your work experience
Don't just list it – make sure you explain what you learned from the experience, and what skills you took away from it (as briefly as possible - bullet points are fine). Always list your work experience from the present day backwards. Your most recent job is the one your employers will be most interested in, not your Saturday job when you were 16. The main exception to this rule is an actor's CV. Due to the nature of the job, actors often have several short periods of employment, which can make their work experience list very long. If this is the case, try to group together similar jobs, such as musical theatre, stage work or even interim jobs, which might include any telesales or bar work.
Check the spelling and grammar
Typos are an immediate turn off for employers, so always get someone to proofread your CV before you send it off.
Keep it simple
There's no need to get too flashy with graphic design (unless you are a graphic designer). The most effective CVs look tidy and functional and stick to formal layouts. Keep italics, underlining and quotation marks to a minimum.
Photo by churl courtesy of Flickr.