When it comes to applying for jobs, your CV essentially acts as your golden ticket to earn yourself an interview. We know how stressful it can be when applying for jobs, especially if you aren’t sure what to include in your CV.
That’s why we’re providing you with this extensive list of top tips for creating a great CV! In this guide, we’ll tell you what employers are looking for in a CV and how you can format yours to make it stand out from the crowd. Follow this guide, and it will hopefully greatly increase your chances of landing an interview.
How to create a CV
With a CV, it’s all about presenting your experience and achievements in a clear and concise manner. Ideally, you want your CV to be no more than two pages. You’ll also want to structure it with your best and most relevant achievements at the top.
It’s a good idea to jot down all the work experience and anything else you’ve done that might be relevant to employers on a piece of paper. Once you’ve created a rough list, you can start identifying which might be the most relevant and should be added to your CV.
Of course, you don’t want to go completely overboard, and you need to get the tone and balance right. However, the main goal is to stand out ahead of the other candidates.
What are employers looking for in a CV?
This will likely vary from employer to employer, and it will also depend on the nature of the role. They will likely be following a specific criterion and will be looking for candidates with certain skills that match up with the role.
However, there are several traits and skills that all employers are usually looking for, such as time-management and interpersonal skills. For more industry-specific qualities, it will depend on the type of job you are applying for.
Adjust your CV to the job you’re applying for
Tailoring your CV to the job you are applying for is essential if you want to stand out ahead of other candidates. A lot of people submit the same CV to every job they apply for, which can limit your chances of appealing to the employer.
You should use your regular CV as a template and then adapt it to each job you are applying for, adding in skills and experience that may be relevant to that employer. You can also alter the structure of your CV depending on the job you are applying for, where certain experience may be more desirable, and place this at the top.
Useful skills to include on your CV
As previously mentioned, certain skills can be applied to any role and ones that employers are always looking for. The following skills are examples of what most employers are looking for in a new team member:
- Communication skills
- IT proficiency
- Teamwork & leadership
- Academic and extra-curricular achievements
- Time management
- Interpersonal skills
Different CV formats
When it comes to ordering your CV, there are a few different formats you can follow. Ideally, you want your most relevant experiences and achievements to be at the top so employers can easily follow and understand. The two most common and most popular formats are reverse chronological, and skills-based.
Reverse chronological CV
Reverse chronological CVs are the most common type, and here’s how you should order them:
- Your most recent work experience or qualifications should be listed at the top of your CV.
- You should add a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements for each role/ qualification. Be concise and specific and keep in mind what employers might be wanting to read.
- Go back in reverse date order, and include a section for other experience which might be relevant.
A skills-based CV may be a better option if you don’t have a ton of experience within the industry you are applying to. Here are some tips for how you can order a skills-based CV:
- Highlight five relevant skills for the job you are applying for, and give examples of how you’ve demonstrated these skills in previous job roles, education, or during other experiences.
- After you have written your skills section, list your work history and qualifications with some brief descriptions.
How to structure a CV
It’s essential you structure your CV so that it is easy for employers to read, and identify the key things about you. Remember, the chances are that employers will be reading through hundreds of CVs, so you’ll want to ensure yours is memorable whilst being easy to read.
In this section, you’ll want to put all your key contact details. This will include your full name, which should ideally be at the top of the page, in clear bold lettering. Other details you need to list below your name include your email address, contact number, and location.
You can also choose to include relevant social media channels or online profiles, such as your LinkedIn profile, Twitter, or your personal website. Additionally, you can include any languages you speak if you are multi-lingual.
Personal statement (optional)
Whilst this isn’t entirely necessary, including a brief personal statement can help give the employer an instant overview of you. Whilst you don’t want to summarise your entire working experience here, it gives you an opportunity to briefly highlight your background and some key skills you possess. If you have just graduated from university, you can include your qualifications and some key skills you mastered during your studies.
Education and qualifications
You can either choose to list your education history and qualifications first or your employment history. It’s best to choose whichever is most relevant for the role you are applying for.
For the education section, list your most recent qualifications first. So, start with your university and your degree, followed by A levels (or equivalent), and finally your GCSEs. If you are struggling for space, summarise your A levels and GCSEs without going into too much detail.
You should list all the institutions you have studied at alongside your qualifications and grades. It’s also a good idea to highlight any relevant modules you may have studied or key pieces of work that have given you knowledge of the job.
In a similar fashion to your educational section, list your employment history starting with your most recent and working back in time. Include any full time, part-time, voluntary work, or internships you might have done in the past.
Detail a few of your key responsibilities and skills acquired during each position. You should also list how long you worked in each role and how long you were working for specific companies.
Main achievements (optional)
Again, this section is only optional, but it can be a good idea to outline any other achievements you have accomplished. Things such as the Duke of Edinburgh award can be listed here, as well as any standout sporting and creative achievements. You can also explain the key skills you used to earn these achievements and make them relatable to the job you are applying for.
Here you can include any other skills you have, such as hard or soft skills that your employer may be interested in. You can also list any online courses you have completed and skills you have developed by doing them.
Hobbies and interests (optional)
If you decide to include a hobbies and interests section, keep it brief as you don’t need to list every single thing that interests you. The trick here is to list interests that may make you stand out, or that may suit the job you are going for. It’s a good idea to try think outside the box here and to lean towards more unique hobbies rather than generic things.
Employers always ask for references if they are going to hire you, so you can be proactive by including them on your CV. You should include two contacts, one being a former employer and one being an academic reference.
Tips to make your CV stand out
It can be difficult to know how to make your CV stand out, especially when the job you are going for has a lot of applicants. There are some simple things you can do though, which a lot of others forget to do, some basic tips include the following:
- Proofread and spell check your entire document before you send it off
- Don’t include a photo (if you are applying for a job within the UK)
- Keep sentences concise, you don’t want to waffle on and bore the employer
- Use a basic font and don’t overcomplicate style-wise
- Don’t include your date of birth
Hopefully, these tips have provided you with some guidance when it comes to working on your CV! Remember, job hunting can be exhausting, but it’s important not to give up hope!