How to Write a CV
Your CV is a kind of personal ad that you deliver to companies explaining why they need your services. Firms want people who can create more value than they cost in salary, and so your task, just like anyone trying to sell a product, is to demonstrate that you have the skills and talents they need to justify your pay.
The problem, however, is that this isn’t how most people go about writing a CV. The average candidate sees their resume as a kind of autobiography where they talk about everything and anything without putting themselves in the shoes of the hiring manager. Hiring managers are interested in just one thing: whether employing you will help the company and improve their own position. But the majority of people applying don’t create their CVs with this in mind.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to writing a CV, then you’re not alone. But, with the help of this article, you’ll be able to put together a winning resume in no time.
How To Present Your CV
Before delving into the nitty-gritty details of how to write a CV, it’s worth thinking about how your CV will appear overall. We all know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but hiring managers, just like everyone else, are more drawn to pleasing aesthetic properties which is why the general visual impression your CV creates is so important.
Use A Readable Typeface
You want your typeface to be readable, business-oriented and approachable. Avoid traditional fonts like Times New Roman (or those with an academic slant) and stick with Helvetica or Arial. Don’t use Word Art or Comic Sans.
Keep It Under Two Sides
Unless you’re applying for a highly specific role (like a senior research position in a medical company), then it’s a good idea to keep your CV under two sides in length. Hiring managers looking for new recruits for sales positions or even management roles don’t want your life story; they just want to see that you have the skills and experience to do the job. If you do, then they’ll put you on the interview pile.
Order Your Experience And Qualifications In Chronological Order, Most Recent First
There’s a good chance that you attended a variety of educational establishments throughout your life. List the institution and the qualifications/grades obtained in chronological order, starting with the most recent first.
If you’ve been in the job market for a while, do the same for the positions you’ve held, listing the most recent first. Recruiters will be able to see where you’ve worked and your most recent qualifications and assess whether you meet their requirements quickly.
Put Everything Under Headings
Split your CV into distinct sections (for instance, “education,” “work experience” etc.).
What To Include In Your CV
CVs need to contain necessary details that tell a prospective employer what you can do and how to get in touch with you if you’re successful.
- Personal Details. Include things like your name, telephone number, address, and email.
- Personal Statement. Ideally, you should tailor your personal statement to the role you’re applying for. Generic personal statements don’t usually work and give the hiring manager the impression that you’re just spamming job ads, hoping that one or two will respond. Personal statements need to be specific, detailing why you and the company to which you’re applying are compatible.
- Work Experience. The work experience section is the part where you tell your employer who you worked for in the past, the position you held, and how long you did it. You can also include your key responsibilities. If there are gaps in your career, you might want to give the reasons why here too (such as maternity leave).
- Achievements. Achievements are a great way for you to show your prowess, whether they are professional or not. Talk about how your previous experience helped you attain specific goals and how you plan to apply them in your next job.
- Education. In the education section, mention the institution you attended, the dates covered, the qualifications you earned and, if applicable, your grades. You can also talk about your educational achievements in this section too.
- Hobbies And Interests. Life isn’t all about work. Employers want to know if you lead a varied and balanced life.
What Language Should You Use In Your CV?
Employers, just like everyone else, are highly responsive to the language that people use. Some words will make them think that you have the potential to work in their firm, while others will at best irritate, and at worst, encourage them to throw out your CV altogether.
Let’s start with some of the words that you should use in your CV. Today’s companies are looking for people with a creative and managerial skill set, as well as the ability to solve problems on the fly. Including words like “innovative,” “reliable” and “responsible” are on trend right now. Using these words in your statement or while talking about your roles in previous jobs can help to communicate your compatibility with a position more effectively.
There are, however, some words that you’ll want to avoid because they’ve become cliched and overused.
Hiring managers don’t usually respond well to claims like “I am a great multi-tasker” or “I have excellent communication skills.” At best, your application will look like everyone else’s and at worst, you’ll irritate the person reading it so much that they discard it. Even using seemingly harmless words like “self-motivated” and “independent” can get you into trouble. Sure, you might be an auto-didact, but the person reading your CV has no way of knowing that ahead of time.
So what have we learned?
We’ve learned that your CV needs to contain a minimum set of details, that it needs to be structured logically, and that you need to tailor it to the specific requirements of the role. Generic personal statements will not suffice.
Finally, you need to be succinct. Most employers only have a few seconds to read a CV before moving onto the next candidate.