News, Blog, Employment, Awards, Careers | Monday 3rd October 2022
A CV is often the first impression you will give in the interview process and can be the difference between immediate rejection and securing that first interview. Hiring Managers often have to trawl through dozens of applications so it is important that you not only stand out, but that your CV is clear, accessible, and sells the best possible version of you. While each CV will vary depending on the job description and type of role, a general structure tends to be seen across all successful CV submissions.
Name, location, and contact information
Making sure these are clear and accurate is extremely important to your application. Being able to associate the CV with your personal profile is a must, after all, how can they hire you from your CV if they don’t know who you are? Location is important for some roles, particularly contract work, as well as your willingness to travel. However, including your general location or address on a CV helps the reader know where you would be travelling from, and how that may influence your suitability for the role. The contact information on your CV should be your phone number and email address. Make sure you have double and triple checked they are correct, a typo could prove disastrous. We recommend that these are your personal contacts – this avoids any awkward confrontations with anyone you are currently working with and for. You may be contacted directly from your CV, so if these details are absent then you may risk losing out early on!
A short personal profile
This should be a few lines to summarise yourself as a person, briefly mention your experience and suitability for the role. This should be surface level but interesting enough that the reader will choose to look at the rest of your CV. You can mention either physical skills or personal attributes that would make you a highly desirable candidate for the role, just keep it short and sweet.
This is expected to be in reverse chronological order starting with your most recent role, and include all paid work, volunteering, placements, and internships. It should include the employer details, job title, dates (month and year), and a description of the role and your key responsibilities. If the responsibilities and actions completed across multiple roles are the same, then it is acceptable to explain this in detail for the most recent role, and summarise older roles, or just mention the employer, role and dates if the link between them all is self-explanatory. Have you had progression during your tenure at a company? That’s great! Use this in your CV! However, this should all be listed under one heading, rather than as multiple job roles all with their own heading and explanation. This makes it easier for anyone quick reading your CV to understand the link between the roles and your scale of progression within the company.
Don’t underestimate the value of key facts and figures to help sell yourself. Within this section is the opportunity to efficiently evidence your impact in these roles if applicable, e.g. I regularly hit above my sales targets by over 10% quarterly. Scale is important. If you managed a team, how big? How many components? Did you increase revenue? If so, by how much? Were you a finalist for any awards? Did you win any? Are you proficient in any systems? It is important that you highlight your skills the best, most concise way and numbers can be the easiest way to prove the levels you have successfully worked at.
The length of time covered is dependent on your level of experience, however it is typically expected to cover a 5-10-year span.
Here, all relevant studies should be included depending on your level. The format is typically Institution name, qualification and grade, dates to and from (month and year). For any type of education where you have many modules, for example a degree, you may choose to outline some of the key modules to support your application and knowledge. If you are a graduate, this section may take up a larger chunk of your CV due to limited experience, so this outline of modules directly relevant to, or that may offer additional value to the role and company will support your application.
Additional skills and training
Any benefits you can provide to a company, particularly without any additional expense to themselves, can greatly benefit you and support your progression to the next stage. This includes any soft skills such as software experience and equipment use, and additional courses such as health and safety, project management, specialised equipment training, etc. Anything you could provide to the role, team, or company, could help elevate your position in the hiring process.
Hobbies and interests
While it is important to ensure somebody meets the requirements of a role, providing some personal touches to your CV by bullet pointing a few hobbies and interests can help individualise your application and give you something to talk about in the interview process. Employers won’t necessarily find your degree particularly memorable, however they’re highly unlikely to forget the candidate who spends their weekends volunteering at a hedgehog sanctuary or building a vintage replica model railway. No matter what your hobbies, include them. Things such as baking, walking/hiking, horse riding, painting…anything you enjoy that isn’t related to your employment!
It is good to have references on hand but rounding off a CV with ‘references available upon request’ is usually preferred. This helps to minimise waste of space with references which may not be required at this point in the process. An exception to this rule is contract work, where it is a great idea to include customer recommendations and testimonials to your work and attitude. The process is often exceptionally quick for contracts and so providing this information early can help prove you are an asset to hire and create positive relations with previous clients and employers.
Quick formatting points:
- Consistent font and size - The font and size should be consistent through the CV itself, ideally between 10 and 12pt and a classic, easy to read font such as Arial or Times New Roman. Headers, names, dates etc may be slightly larger or in bold to help the reader identify sections easily.
- Crisp, tidy format - As well as a clear structure like mentioned above, it should also be crisp, tidy, and to the point – a lot of readers don’t have a lot of time, so an easy-to-follow layout and concise comments can help them identify how great you are for the role.
- 2 pages - Depending on your experience a CV should be roughly 2 pages, maybe slightly less or more depending on experience and seniority.
- ATS and AI - some companies use CV scanners to help shortlist candidates, especially for highly desirable jobs. It is important to always adapt your CV for the job you are applying for and use the key words from the job advert to prove you can match the requirements.
- Don’t talk in third person - they don’t need to know who did what, you should only be talking about yourself!
- No picture - a lot of application processes often prefer no identifying information other than you name and contact information. Unless the picture is highly relevant for the application, it is often best to include no pictures. Employers also often use social media such as LinkedIn when scanning potential interviewees, where they should be able to find any additional information and images that they could require (it is also important to make sure all you social media is up to date and sensible for employment!).
- Double and triple check - giving your CV another glance won’t hurt and it could avoid any silly or embarrassing mistakes that can be incredibly off putting for employers. Alternatively, getting somebody else to read through your CV before it’s sent is always a great idea. This can help identify any grammatical errors or any unclear areas that might have been missed.
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