Ten CV Writing Tips

So you need to write a new CV but not too sure where to start? Take a look at these ten tips.

Over the years prosperIS has placed many people at various levels in many organisations. Some had excellent CVs but many did not.

First of all no-one is going to hire you because your CV looks better that everyone else. However, a manager will interview you because your CV is better. This brings us neatly on to the fact your CV is simply a tool; a tool to get you an interview. Once at interview stage it is up to you to show you are the best person for the job. 

Here are some simple tips you may want to consider.

1 - The Basics

Name Address and contact details at the top please. Keep your CV as short as you can. Some recruiters will tell you your CV should not exceed two or three pages, whilst we don’t necessarily subscribe to that view (we are of the opinion if you have relevant experience then get it down on your CV) we do think if your CV is in excess of four pages then you could seriously question if the information is relevant to the role to which you are applying.

We are big fans of a summary paragraph right at the top of your CV – see point 3 below.

Show your jobs in reverse chronological order; no one wants to get to the bottom of your CV to find out what you are doing now.

If you have been out of work for certain periods of time, don’t try to hide it by not giving proper dates. Any good recruiter will question you about this and it may hinder your chances if you are not honest. When we see a CV and the author had given start and finish dates of 2014-2015 it is hard for us to judge if the candidate has been in the role three weeks (maybe over Christmas) or much longer.

2 - Keep it Simple and Relevant

Relevancy is the key word here. A really good tip is to have a basic CV that can be altered dependant on the role for which you are applying. You may want to amend the summary paragraph to highlight your most relevant experience based on the recruiter’s job advert. Create an account on this website and you can store several CVs allowing you to choose the most relevant 'tweaked' version aligned to the role for which you are applying. 

3 - ‘Grab’ the Reader – give them a reason to read on

Unfortunately your CV is unlikely to be the only one the reader will review that day. Please don’t assume that the recipient will have time to read and digest every word of your document. They won’t. It is very likely that the reader will scan the document to get a summary of your skills and experience; if they like what they see they will read on and if not you could be rejected quickly.

Make sure that the most relevant information is easily seen.

Write a summary paragraph. Highlight your education. If you did not go to University and your main selling point is your work experience highlight this so it can be seen quickly.

Put yourself in the reader’s position and try to think what would be the five things you would be looking for if you were trying to hire someone for this role, then try to show that you have these skills in either the summary paragraph or the first half page of your CV.

4 - Location Location Location

Easy one this one – if you are not local to where the role is based indicate why you have applied and the reasons why you would want to relocate. If you have friends or family in the area let the reader know – they won’t be able to guess.

5 - Do you need to show work examples or portfolio?

For more creative based roles you may want to consider demonstrating a portfolio or similar examples of work. If doing this make sure you can demonstrate what part you played if you weren’t entirely responsible.

6 - What could you bring?

When writing your CV try to subtly indicate what you could bring to the role. Are you a good team-player? Do you work well on your own needing a minimal amount of supervision? Do you help mentor colleagues even though your roles in the past have not required this? It is not sufficient to write ‘I am a good team player’ on your CV. Highlight why this is so - include examples on your CV. Paint a picture for the reader.

7 –Spellchecker

No brainer – use it. You will be surprised how many people don’t.

8 - Watch the Grammar

Getting ‘their’ and ‘there’ mixed up shows a lack of attention to detail. Get a friend (or trusted recruitment consultant) to check the CV.

9 - Outside interests – is it relevant?

You may think it’s relevant that your pub quiz team finished second in the mid-counties quiz league in 2013 – the reader may not. You may think it shows commitment and loyalty if you tell the world you are a Millwall season ticket holder but what if the hiring manager is a West Ham fan? We are not saying you shouldn’t put anything about what you do in your spare time but think carefully about what you put here.

10 - References

Yes please. Anything that can add weight to your application is going to help. If you can show you are able to provide solid referees from previous role indicate this on your CV.

 Please feel free to get in touch if you think we can help.