Tips on writing your CV

In this market, your CV is your key in opening up the role you desire. Undersell yourself through your CV, and this cost could you that all important initial interview for that role you are so interested in. So how do you write a CV that captures your next potential employer’s imagination?

Firstly, and arguably most importantly, make sure you check your CV… and then double check it… and then check it again! Writing a CV is an important task that can take a great deal of time and effort. Ensure your spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct — there is nothing more frustrating for a HR manager receiving your CV and believing you are a great match for their current vacancy, but noticing there are countless mistakes within it. It may sound a rather irrelevant point to some, but we have had clients who have not met with candidates purely based on spelling and grammatical errors within their CVs. Your CV is a hiring manager’s first impression of you — if you are unable to communicate effectively and accurately through your CV then they may view you as unable to do so with potential customers, clients and senior staff members, and may make the hiring manager think that you aren’t wholly committed to working for them. First impressions are always key, and as your CV is your first point of contact between yourself and the employer, this needs to be flawless.

Secondly, ensure you only include relevant details. Those who have had fewer roles will naturally have shorter CVs that those who have been working for a number of years, so there is no set length for CVs. Start with a descriptive or personal profile of your professional designation (e.g. a chartered accountant or web designer), backed up by key features of your professional self, and your immediate ambitions. Ideally this should be punchy, precise and no more than three sentences. Next, place your education (anything up to and including university) and any other credentials, including dates attended, qualifications achieved and grades. When it comes to previous employment, place your current position first, and then work backwards — the recruiter will want to see most recent experience without having to read through the entire CV.  Include job titles, names of companies and dates you worked there, followed by bullet points of your key responsibilities and duties, as well as your main achievements within each the role. You can also include key skills and achievements, interests and hobbies on your CV, but only if they are relevant or the skills acquired through these activities can be transferable. You must also make sure you place your contact details on your CV including your home address, mobile number and email address so that a company or recruitment consultancy has more than one way of getting in contact.

Relevant detail doesn’t mean minimal detail — in this market candidates need to make sure they can prove to a hirer that they have the necessary skills and expertise to fulfil the role required. Therefore in order to get an interview to show this in person, you need to include as many applicable duties as possible in connection to that role. This can be done by ensuring your CV is unique to the company you are sending it to — tailor make your CV to fit the role you are applying for, highlighting your previous skills and experience most relevant to the role to make it obvious to the reader. Companies need to get the impression that you have specifically targeted them and their vacancy.

Thirdly, it is crucial that you send a covering letter along with your CV when applying for any given role. This again will need to be catered towards that specific client and role, ensuring you have addressed your letter to the right person.  We have clients that have said if they receive candidate CVs without direction as to what role they wish to apply for or why they feel they are suitable for that role – they simply bin it. Your covering letter should highlight your suitability for the role and the company, complementing not duplicating your CV. If you are applying for a role you have seen advertised in the local paper, make sure you send your CV and covering letter to the contact within the advert only and ensure that you spell their correctly. If you are unsure who to send the CV to, or only have a generic email address for that company, pick up the phone and ask who it is best to address your covering letter to. Hiring managers will be pleased to see that you have taken the time and initiative to find this information out.

In summary, by including accurate, applicable information that sells yourself to an employer and is worded in a way that grabs the attention of the hirer, and ensuring you have written a covering letter addressed to the correct contact, you will have placed yourself in the best possible position to get that interview for the job you want.