Top 20 CV Writing Tips
1. Your research
The very first tip to consider comes well before you start writing your CV… Researching your target roles.
For your CV to be successful, it needs to contain the skills and experience that your desired employers are looking for.
Hit the job boards, scan through lots of relevant job adverts and make a list of the most sought after requirements for your target roles.
2. Break text up
Huge chunks of text are off-putting for readers and make it difficult for recruiters to pick out the information they need.
Make it easy for recruiters to spot your talents by breaking text up into easily digestible sections.
3. Add a punchy profile to your CV
The top of your CV is hugely important, as it the very first thing a recruiter or hiring manager will see upon opening it.
Make a big impact by selling yourself with an attractive CV profile.
Keep it short and sharp in order to hold readers’ attention, summarise your most valuable skills and highlight the benefits of employing you.
4.Use a core skills section
A core skills section is a bullet pointed list that sits just under your profile.
It can include anything from industry experience and qualifications to skills and IT knowledge.
The purpose is to give readers a very quick snapshot of your offering so that they can see that you are a good fit for their vacancy at first glance.
For best results, tailor these points to reflect the requirements of the jobs you are applying for.
5. Use a professional email address
Every part of your CV will be judged by employers, so it needs to reflect your professionalism at all times.
If you’ve labelled the top of your CV with an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org it won’t create the best first impression.
6. Show your impact
When writing your CV role descriptions, it’s important to show your responsibilities.
But it’s even better to show what impact your actions have for your employers.
For example, instead of just writing:
“Sourcing and approaching potential customers.”
Expand to show your impact:
“Sourcing and approaching potential customers to generate leads for the sales team and build pipeline.”
You may not be able to do this for every point on your CV, but always try to where possible.
7. Give a high-level summary of your roles
Delving into the nitty gritty details of your roles without first setting the scene, can be confusing for readers.
Give your role descriptions some context by heading them up with a high level summary that explains what the employer does, where you sit within the organisation and how your role benefits the employer.
8. Avoid generic clichés
CV clichés are terms like:
These phrases may appear impressive at first glance, but they don’t actually tell recruiters anything factual about you.
If you want to show employers that you are a hard-working team player, don’t simply state the fact; instead use examples of the results you have achieved within team settings to prove it.
9. Tailor your CV to every job you apply for:
Although your CV will be tailored towards the general type of roles you are applying to, you can give each application a boost by tweaking the CV even further, every time you apply for a different role.
Assess each job advert before applying and make sure that your CV is highlighting the most important requirements for each one.
If you are hiding any crucial skills that are required for a particular role, at the bottom of your CV, then make sure you move them up to the top of the CV for that application and make them prominent.
One quick and simple way to tailor your CV is by swapping your core skills around to reflect the requirements in the job advert.
10. Use a simple font
a high level summary of your rolesse a simple font
Don’t over complicate your CV by using an over-elaborate font. This is a really basic but important CV writing tip.
Keep your font simple to allow easy reading and a professional outlook.
11. Do not add a photo to your CV
Unless you are applying for an acting or modelling job, a photo is unnecessary and can even look a little cheesy.
Employers are interested in the skills and knowledge you can bring to them, they are not too bothered about what you look like.
Save the space on your CV for compelling content.
12. Include plenty of detail on your current or most recent role
Your most recent role is the area of your CV that will be scrutinised the most by recruiters and employers, so it’s imperative that you provide enough detail to explain it fully.
13. Shorten older roles
If you are an experienced candidate with years of experience, there’s no need to write huge amounts of detail on your older roles.
Recruiters will be focusing on your recent work to understand your current capabilities, so shorten older roles down to brief summaries to give readers an idea of your career path.
14. Keep your CV to around 2 pages in length
Whilst there is no set-in-stone rule regarding CV length, it’s best to try and keep your CV to around 2 pages.
2 pages is just enough space to tell readers your story without boring them.
Busy recruiters often see hundreds of CVs in a week, so they won’t want to read a 7 page CV.
15. Use professional language
Your CV should be a gleaming example of your written communication skills, so ensure that you write in a consistently professional manner.
Recruiters will assume that your CV language reflects the way you will communicate in the workplace, so construct your sentences properly and use a wide vocabulary.
16.List your roles in reverse chronological order
Employers are mostly interested in your recent work to assess your current capabilities, so start your CV with your most recent role to ensure it receives immediate attention.
17. Explain gaps in your employment
If you have taken time out to travel, study, complete a personal project, or even due to illness; be transparent and include it on your CV.
Leaving an unexplained gap will make recruiters suspicious, and trying to cover gaps by falsely extending other roles may land you in trouble when it comes to reference checks.
Time spent outside of work can often involve plenty of skills (for example travelling requires organisation, planning, social skills etc.) so you can always put a positive spin on a career break description.
18. Send your CV in Word format
MS Word is the most commonly used CV format, so sending in Word will ensure that your CV can be read and passes through any CV scanning software.
Also, there will be occasions where recruiters need to quickly make edits to your CV before sending on to hiring managers. For example some organisations require recruitment agencies to transfer all candidates CVs into a company standard format before submitting – and sometimes they will just need to remove contact details before forwarding.
19. Proofread your CV
It only takes one spelling or grammar mistake to make a recruiter doubt your credibility, so proofread your CV 2 or 3 times before taking it to the job market.
If English isn’t your first language or you are simply are not confident in your use of grammar, try a free proofreading tool.
20. Be truthful
Don’t be tempted to falsify qualifications or make up jobs that you haven’t done.
A white lie may get you through to interview stage, but the interviewer could quite easily catch you out if you don’t appear to know what you are talking about.
Also, most companies will run reference checks after making a job offer, so it’s not worth risking your reputation.