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Top Tips for writing a CV

Should you list your work experience or achievements first? Do you include a photo or not? Will coloured paper make you stand out from the crowd? Writing your CV can be a minefield but there are certain simple rules you can follow. Discover the do’s and don’ts of CV writing below.

CV do’s

  • Use a confident tone and positive language Use positive words to start each sentence, such as initiated, improved, introduced, developed, negotiated, established, created, pioneered, delivered, increased, reduced, saved etc. This also helps to ensure that you’re substantiating your skills with hard evidence
  • Concentrate on your achievements not your responsibilities This means listing things you have done – such as increase in sales, awards won – not rewriting your job description. Quote figures whenever possible.
  • Encourage the employer to read on Ensure that you put your most salient points on the first page of the CV to include your greatest successes and achievements and proven examples of how you have used your skills to benefit the companies you have worked for.
  • Keep to the point Be ruthless with yourself and keep your CV to a maximum of two pages. Only very senior, experienced executives have more to say.
  • Check, check and check again Check thoroughly for correct spelling and grammar – spotting errors is a quick and easy way of weeding out weaker candidates when faced with a mountain of CVs to read. Don’t just rely on your computers spellchecker but get someone else to proof read it – you may have spelt a word correctly but used it in the wrong place.
  • Capture immediate attention Prioritise the content of your CV and detail the most relevant information first. Start with a hard-hitting personal profile that avoids clichés such as ‘hard-working, team player with excellent communication skills’. Make sure that all your career history is punchy and to the point with qualified and quantified successes.

 

CV don’ts

  • List everything An employer really doesn’t need or want to know all the one-day training courses you have ever been on. Keep information relevant and to the point.
  • Include a photo No matter how attractive you make yourself look, it will not improve your chances. This tends to be popular in other European countries but isn’t favoured by the majority of UK businesses.
  • Get creative Don’t use elaborate fonts and colours to make your CV stand out. The more gimmicky you make your CV using different shapes and pictures, the more off-putting it will be to an employer
  • Divulge sensitive information Never include your NI or passport number or any other sensitive personal information on your CV.
  • Talk about me, me, me Don’t start each sentence in the first person. Instead use phrasing such as ‘Selected to manage or Successfully converted over 65% of valuations with an average fee of 1.8%
  • Talk in clichés Phrases such as ‘I am a highly motivated individual who works well on my own or in a team, with exceptional communication skills and the ability to work under pressure to produce results under tight deadlines’ are dull and the employer has heard them all before. Make yourself stand out with carefully worded phrasing that is factual and captures the employer’s attention.
  • Make the recruiter jump through hoops If you are able to perform in the job, explain how in your CV. Don’t expect the employer to read between the lines to work out whether you will be worth the £40k salary per annum.

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