How to write a successful CV

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Shreena Gokani Recruitment, candidate, covid-19...

Whether you’re reviewing, updating or writing your CV from scratch, we realise that it can be a very scary task – especially if you’ve never had to write one before. Whilst at the moment we are unable to assist you in person, we have put together a short guide to help make this process as pain-free as possible for you. 

What Do I HAVE to include on my CV?
Different people will tell you different things, and whilst there’s no specific right or wrong, there are certain pieces of essential information that all prospective employers will want to (and need to) see:

1. Your personal details
Your name and contact details – you’d be surprised how many CVs we see with no telephone number listed on them!After all of this hard work, please do make sure that you are contactable.

2. A personal statement / profile
This should be one to two short paragraphs, outlining who you are and what you can do / what you can bring to this new role and company.

3. Key skills
This is your opportunity to snapshot why YOU are the right person for THIS job. Bullet point five to six skills, that are relevant to the job or company that you are applying for.For example, if the role that you are applying for requires experience of managing people, you could say ‘Hands on management of teams of up to 12 staff’. The key skills section can then be tailor made or adjusted, depending upon the role or company, that you are making an application to.

4. Employment History
You should start with your most recent employer at the top and then work back, as this is most logical way to show your employment history. Include the company name, month and date of when you started your employment (and the same for when you ended your employment) and your job title.

To showcase your duties within each of your employers, use bullet points.Too much text in block format could mean that vital experience is missed by the person reading it (Especially if they review a lot of CVs)!

If you have held multiple positions within one company, add the full dates along with the company name as above, and then sub section each position by including the job title and then the dates that you held those individual roles. Again, use bullet points to show your duties relating to that specific role.

Include a reason for leaving, where possible, or note if the work you undertook was a temporary contract for a defined period. Keep this short, it doesn’t need to be an essay! Explain any long terms gaps or changes in your career direction.It’s always better to answer questions, than to create them!

5. Key achievements or accomplishments
You can highlight noteworthy achievements, by either listing these under the relevant companies or you can include a separate section under your key skills and before your employment. These will make you stand out from the crowd and can verify your skills and experience. These should also be backed up with facts outlining what you achieved or what you helped the business achieve.For example, ‘During the financial year 2019 to 2020, I saved the business in excess of £200,000 by reviewing and streamlining their manufacturing process’.

6. Education / Qualifications
You should start with the most recent qualifications first and then work backwards.Include the name of the institution that you attended, the dates you were there from and until, the name of qualification(s) and the grades that you achieved and any other detail that might be relevant around the content of the courses.

What format should my CV be in?

  • Use headings to break the page up and bullet points to break text up. Bullet points are also easier to read through and the reader will be able to see crucial information quicker!
  • Keep all text in the same font and keep sizes consistent i.e. headings all the same size and the body of the text all the same size.
  • It’s safer to use universal fonts that you know the reader will have installed such as Arial. The last thing that you want it for your CV to end up in Wingdings!

Do I HAVE to include...

  • A headshot? No. Avoid including a headshot as this is not a requirement in the UK when applying for jobs. What you think is a professional photo, might not be the same as what someone else thinks, so best to be safe!
  • Date of birth/ age or marital status? No. It is illegal for employers to ask for this information when considering you for employment as it doesn’t impact whether you can undertake the role.
  • Hobbies / Interests? No. If your hobbies or interested relate to the job or industry that you work in or want to work in, there may be some benefit in sharing these. It’s better to not include anything, than to write something just for the sake of it!
  • References? No. You don’t have to include these, but you can if you have them and want to (and have permission for their details to be shared). If you don’t then it is fine to include a statement to say ‘References can be provided upon request’

Other CV tips to think about:

  • Once you’re ready, check your spelling and grammar
  • Watch out for mixing up past and current tense
  • Try and format your CV so that the page breaks at the end of a section if possible
  • Number your pages so that if printed, your CV remains in the correct order
  • Ask someone to proofread it for you. We’re not machines and we all make mistakes regardless of spell check!
  • While everyone thinks that CVs should be a maximum of two A4 pages long, if they’re slightly longer and include relevant information, it’s ok!

Here's a CV template example to guide you.

Hopefully the above has helped you to construct, lay out and format a CV that is going to help you successfully find a job. If you do need any additional help finding a job, then our consultants at TXM Recruit are on hand, and would be more than happy to assist. Contact us on here.